Kofi Annan’s commencement speech at MIT in 1997

I recently came across the transcript of Kofi Annan’s commencement speech at MIT in 1997. It’s interesting to read his speech, especially this paragraph, in the context of current events. I liked reading this; I feel like it’s more candid than a public speech.

I begin with the struggle between reason and unreason. When the history of the twentieth century is written, this struggle will figure very prominently in it. On the plane of international affairs, the outbursts of unreason in this century surpass in horror and human tragedy any the world has seen in the entire modern era. From Flanders’ fields to the Holocaust and the aggressions that produced World War II; from the killing fields of Cambodia and Rwanda to ethnic cleansing in Bosnia; from the twenty-five million refugees who roam the world today to untold millions, many of them children, who die the slow death of starvation or are maimed for life by land-mines–our century, even this generation, has much to answer for.

Quite a nice summary, isn’t it? He toots his own horn and that of the UN quite a bit, but it’s interesting how he draws a parallel between international relations(“the project of international organization”) and the scientific process.