Kofi's heading out the door, and left a little Independence stinkbomb on his way out. There's a lot to ponder here that's best done in something other than in reflexive UN-bashing mode.
The UN way is consensus, getting most everyone to agree to things. That's the environment that Annan has spent his adult life in; he's spent his entire career at the UN. However, there are plenty of issues that we're not going to get consensus on.
Mr Annan also stressed that Washington's current position in the world gives it "a priceless opportunity" to entrench the principles of democracy at a global level.
But he stressed that this was no clash between Western and Eastern civilisations.
"All civilisation is at stake, and we can save it only if all peoples join together in the task."
That's one of the problems with the UN style; all people's aren't interested in helping. Or at least all government's aren't interested. Some are opposed to a broad UNism that appreciates human rights and democracy. Others aren't hostile to those aims, but have other agendas that they want to push along side UNism that come in conflict with Anglospherian visions of the world.
The UN is a "marketplace" of ideas and hegemonies clashing and cooperating in various degrees. Sometimes, there is cooperation if no one's ox is getting gored and getting together has little downside to the major players. However, that seems to be the exception to the rule; getting all five veto-wielding members to agree on something is a rare event.
When such agreement is not feasible, non-UN options wind up occurring. They aren't typically "unilateral" but may not have all the major players in the UN on board.
The speech went down at the Truman presidential library, who is presented as "an early champion of the UN" in contrast to Dubya's independence. One of the UN's early successes on Truman's watch was having the US-led forces helping defend South Korea to be flying the UN banner.
That was largely due to the Russians having boycotted a Security Council meeting. With the China seat being held by Taiwan at the time, there was no Communist veto of aid to South Korea, and the US effort had an UN imprimatur. Had the Soviets been in town, Give 'em Hell Harry may well have been just as independent as Dubya.