The Secretary General in His Labyrinth
March 03, 2015
When Ban Ki-moon was a child, the United Nations saved his village from a war. Can he save the U.N. from irrelevance?
Sudan seems to bring out a perverse diffidence in both the Obama administration and the international community. This is especially clear in their response to a growing body of evidence that atrocities are being committed in South Kordofan, a border state in what is now Northern Sudan. Indeed, the more proof that accumulates about the targeted destruction of the African Nuba people, the less the White House and the U.N. seem inclined either to speak out forcefully or to announce a course of action. U.S.
The independent Republic of South Sudan emerged Saturday from the ravages of half a century of war, deprivation, destruction, and displacement. Its freedom was guaranteed overwhelmingly by a self-determination held last January, and, today, it is impossible to resist the celebratory urges evident in Juba, the new capital. But this birth occurs against an exceedingly grim backdrop that suggests resumed war between Sudan and, now, South Sudan is much closer than diplomats and analysts have allowed themselves to say, or perhaps even think.
Compounding things, the international community has moved ponderously, even lethargically, to aid the survivors. According to Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Saudi Arabia has led all countries in providing aid, with about $112 million, followed by the United States with nearly $76 million, and then the United Kingdom's nearly $65 million. Pakistan's neighbor and regional rival, India, has offered very little, while Pakistan's all-weather friend, China, has ponied up a paltry $9 million thus far. The total sum, according to the NDMA, amounts to only $524.93 million.
Rest Assured, Ladies. Protecting Rights in Afghanistan, Mrs. Clinton Assures, "Is A Personal Commitment of Mine."
July 22, 2010
The Kabul conference has come and gone, a half day fest which put the finishing touches on the plans for Afghani security and how it can be helped by fully 70 governments, all in attendance, and, of course, with the United Nations represented by its secretary general Ban Ki-Moon. On Monday, Mrs. Clinton was in Pakistan; on Tuesday, Kabul; on Wednesday, South Korea, right onto the edge of its demilitarized zone with North Korea. Today, she is in Hanoi and, of course, she has reproached the government of Vietnam for its well-documented contempt for human rights. So we know she travels well.
International Conference in Kabul: Very Important, Ban Ki-Moon and Hillary Clinton Will Be in Attendance.
July 18, 2010
In the British weekend papers which I am reading because I find myself in Spain--the Costa Brava is still a summer outpost of the U.K.--the top story is still Lord Mandelson's tell-most-all book The Third Man, a haunting film title from another war in another time.
Follow the (Iraqi) Leader
May 11, 2010
Imagine a national leader dependent on American support, but who knows that the U.S. Ambassador has threatened that it will be withdrawn; who has heard Senators, and the French foreign minister, call for his removal; and who is referred to throughout the Western press as “weak and unreliable.” That man is not Hamid Karzai, who visits Washington this week. It was Nouri al-Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq, three years ago. Yet Maliki has since transformed himself from reputed weakling to overbearing strong-man, even while being dependent on U.S. support.
Ban Ki-moon is the secretary general of the United Nations. The world is in pretty good shape. This is why he can spend so much of his time relieving the pain of the Arabs of Palestine, who are (if you don’t know already) the only people who suffer from their neighbors. The other Arabs probably suffer from their local overlords. But most of this is kept hush-hush, maybe because Barack Obama wants to have nice relations with them. Mr. Ban certainly wants to have good ties with them.
After the Earthquake: What Should America Really Do About Haiti?
January 22, 2010
At some point quite soon, the thousands of rescue and medical-relief visitors now in Haiti will leave. There will be no additional half-deads showing up on television, although, just as I was writing, I caught special alerts in both Ha’aretz and The Jerusalem Post reporting that today, ten days after the earthquake, an Israeli rescue team dug out a breathing and sentient young man, 22 years old. The already desolate cityscapes and landscapes--which God made more desolate--will leave the inhabitants soul-sick.
Now the Tourists Arrive in Port-au-Prince
January 17, 2010
Today, it was Hillary Clinton who paid the sympathy call to Haiti, or actually to Haiti's president, René Préval. The secretary of state said she would stay at the airport only for a few hours in order not to be a burden in the city, where she uttered the usual platitudes. But the arrival of her airplane was clearly just another intrusion on the desperate work going on, since the Federal Aviation Authority, which is administering the field, had already been closed to inbound flights. This was the worst earthquake in Haiti in fully two centuries.