Friday, September 29, 2006

Up Next at the United Nations

Today's contribution duplicates what's happening over at the "Washington Post" GlobalChat page. With the scribe having participated in three such discussions to date it would appear the folk back East were not making a mistake or looking for some other highwayscribery. Below are the question asked and the scribe's answer.

LEAD: 15 nations gather this week in New York to conduct a straw vote on who is to be the next U.N. Secretary General. Leading candidates include South Korea's Ban Ki Moon, India's Shashi Tharoor and Jordan's Prince Zeid Raad al-Hussein.

QUESTION: Who is the right successor to Kofi Annan? Should the U.S. support reliable South Korea, rising India or a troubled Middle East?

Answer: How about giving a writer and journalist a chance? Sort of youthful (50), India's Shashi Tharror has penned a number of books both fiction and nonfiction, political and literary. These works mostly deal with his native country, although his last, "Bookless in Baghdad," would suggest he's reaching out. Literature and writing are the tools of nuance and understanding and we could use heavy doses of both in the chest-pounding realm of John Bolton. Tharror's an interesting fellow, cut along the lines of the engaged intellectual who can do two things, as his 18 years working at the United Nations would suggest. Korea's Ban Ki-Moon is a diplomat who has done time in Austria as an ambassador, and in Seoul as a government/foreign minister guy, but his track record, at first blush, gives him the pasty pallor of the career bureaucrat (we emphasize "at first blush"). Jordan's Prince Zeid Raad al-Hussein has spent six years at the United Nations, much less time than Tharror, so he'd
lose out on the experience question. He should also lose out by virtue of the fact he's a prince. Surely the U.N. must respect the inner and baroque workings of tiny and ancient member kingdoms, but should preferably lean toward leaders imbibed with democratic sentiment and knowledge of how open and pluralistic political systems work.

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