Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Diplomatic to the End

Outgoing Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan spoke today at the Truman Presidential Museum and Library in Independence, Missouri. Here is the text. Read it and I think you will be both enlightened and amused, for Mr. Annan has delivered a masterpiece of diplomacy. (For example, I love how he thanks Senator Hagel, saying, "It is a great honor to be introduced by such a distinguished legislator." You can just hear him saying it.)

Mr. Annan's tone remains calm and thoughtful throughout. He plods carefully through his simple argument. He pauses frequently to thank his hosts and to praise the far-sightedness of the late President Truman. Yet like all great diplomatic addresses, Mr. Annan's prose falls gently on the ears and only then do you feel the serrated edge. Observe, for example, how innocently he backs into a repudiation of Bush's notion that the current "war on terror" is a fight for Western Civilization.

Standing here, I am reminded of Winston Churchill's last visit to the White House, just before Truman left office in 1953. Churchill recalled their only previous meeting, at the Potsdam conference in 1945. "I must confess, sir," he said boldly, "I held you in very low regard then. I loathed your taking the place of Franklin Roosevelt." Then he paused for a moment, and continued: "I misjudged you badly. Since that time, you more than any other man, have saved Western civilisation."

My friends, our challenge today is not to save Western civilisation--or Eastern, for that matter. All civilisation is at stake, and we can save it only if all peoples join together in the task. You Americans did so much, in the last century, to build an effective multilateral system, with the United Nations at its heart. Do you need it less today, and does it need you less, than 60 years ago? Surely not.

At another point, in the context of Security Council reform, he notes the "special responsibility" of the permanent membership (which he says should be enlarged) and muses that,
The Security Council is not just another stage on which to act out national interests. It is the management committee, if you will, of our fledgling collective security system.

As President Truman said, "The responsibility of the great states is to serve and not dominate the peoples of the world." He showed what can be achieved when the US assumes that responsibility. And still today, none of our global institutions can accomplish much when the US remains aloof. But when it is fully engaged, the sky is the limit.

Finally, at the conclusion of his address, Mr. Annan takes a swipe at Bush himself. It is not hard to read.
More than ever today Americans, like the rest of humanity, need a functioning global system through which the world's peoples can face global challenges together. And in order to function, the system still cries out for far-sighted American leadership, in the Truman tradition. I hope and pray that the American leaders of today, and tomorrow, will provide it. Thank you very much.

Ah, I will miss him. If nothing else, Ban Ki-moon's accent is not half so lovely.


Dr. Strangelove said...

In the annals of amusing diplomatic speech, here are some smatterings of several diplomats' comments regarding the departure of John Bolton. My favorite is the one from the Chinese Representative.

"I think Mr. Bolton did the job he was expected to do. He came at a time when we had lots of tough issues from reform to issues on Iran and North Korea. And I think as a representative of the U.S. government, he pressed ahead with the instructions that had he been given and tried to work as effectively as he could with the other ambassadors."
-Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the U.N.

"No comment, he said with a smile."
-Mark Malloch Brown, Deputy Secretary General of the U.N.

"I think he was serious about the American objective here of reforming the United Nations and he pushed hard. But, of course, sometimes in order to achieve the objective, you have to work together with others."
-Wang Guangya, Chinese Permanent Representative to the U.N.

Anonymous said...

IT is sad that the measure of America's greatness is how much destruction a few stupid men of poor character can wreak on the whole world if they are placed in positions of great power. It is also a measure of America's greatness that we will endure it.  

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

Kofi Annnan was quite right that the United States needs to reclaim its place in the multilateral institutions of the world and lead. Perhaps the 2008 election will provide us an opportunity to return to that role. 

// posted by Charlie

Anonymous said...

Multi-lateralism is important. It will never happen if a Republican Party as currently managed is returned to power in 2008. The Christian Theocrats are still in charge of that party. They won't be any more willing to compromise and accomodate reality in 2008 than they have been for the last 5 years.  

// posted by RBR

Anonymous said...

Here is the sad part, it takes a few people to ruin and so many to rebuild.

I liked this line, "Against such threats as these, no nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others."

and "It is necessary because without a measure of solidarity, no society can be truly stable, and no one's prosperity truly secure."

Following this, he mentioned special interests and lobbies. Again, he might as well have told Buch, "class warefare will destroy" be in in America or anywhere else.

And finally, "But that lead can only be maintained if America remains true to its principles, including in the struggle against terrorism. When it appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused."

I wouldn't have chose "confused", I would have chosen "deeply disenchanted" and then mentioned that it gives them free license then to abuse people as well.

If one more person tells me I am too idealistic or that I should suppress my notion of "principles" so that I can achieve a lower blood pressure, I shall refer them to Annan. There is a much bigger picture that we should all consider. Unfortunately, so few are able to see it. 

// posted by USWest