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Saturday, February 25, 2006

One world

Over at Steve Clemons' blog, we find the following entry, which about half way down starts talking about an interesting subject I haven't seen any discussion on elsewhere:

Let's jump out of terror-watch mode for a moment though and consider another interesting race -- that for Secretary General of the United Nations.

Interestingly, a name that appears on every serious list as a potential successor to Kofi Annan, whose term ends on December 31st of this year, is Prince Zeid Raed al-Hussein of Jordan.

Richard Holbrooke identifies Prince Zeid as a "dark horse" candidate for the UN Secretary General job, but he has a major ally working quietly (believe it or not) on his behalf: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.


Reading it all is a good idea; I have no idea who Clemons is (found the site from Talking Points Memo), and, well, in interests of further full disclosure, no idea who several of the other people named in the story are, either. But what I find interesting about it right now is what Clemons says a bit further on:


Zeid is a Muslim and descends from the royal line of princes and kings who claim direct descendency from Muhammad.

I agree with John Bolton that merit should dictate who takes the helm as UN Secretary General, but I find myself also agreeing with him that elevating someone like Zeid to the position of Secretary General might send a number of constructive signals to the Muslim -- that they matter and have leaders engaged in constructive stake-holding in the global system.


John Bolton is, to all reports (and I grant you, everything I've read about him has been through a left wing filter) an avid neocon and one of Bush/Cheney's made men... and he's not renowned as having a particularly subtle diplomatic mind. The idea that he, and the people behind him, are trying to appease the international Muslim community by putting an Islamic Prince from Jordan in charge of the United Nations just rings hollow to me.

On the other hand, Karl Rove is always looking for more red meat to feed to the conservative base, and those whackos already hate the United Nations. Putting a Muslim into the Secretary-General's chair -- especially a titled Prince whose full name includes the magic two syllables, 'Hussein' -- strikes me as a positively wonderful way to whip the mouth breathers out there into a frenzy.

The term of the current U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, ends on December 31, 2006. An open campaign to seat a Muslim Prince of Jordan named (among other things) Hussein as a run up to our mid term elections... I don't know. Seems like an excellent fear mongering prospect to me.

Are the Republicans planning to make withdrawal from the United Nations a key issue in the mid terms?

It's not as far fetched as you might think. Every existent domestic issue is killing them; from disaster relief to the economy to homefront covert surveillance programs gone sour to Medicare D, there's just no relief in sight anywhere for the Tribe of the Elephant. And with the various criminal prosecutions involving Republican lobbyists and Republican elected officials gaining momentum, and continuing to be perceived (despite the conservative propaganda's frenzied efforts otherwise) as a mainly or entirely Republican scandal, the 'Pubs have to be desperately looking for an issue that they can use to both distract and mobilize the electorate. And historically, isolationism has always played well to Americans in times of world crisis; several American Presidents have been elected, or re-elected, on the campaign promise that they would keep us out of a war that was largely perceived by the contemporary American electorate as 'none of our business'.

It's important to understand that if this is the plan, Bush and his party will be careful not to refer to any furor for withdrawal from the U.N. as 'isolationism'. This phrase is, historically, viewed as a pejorative one, generally used by avid militarists to discredit anyone who opposes their proposed policies. Dubya has already laid well precedented groundwork for this use of the term in his latest State of the Union address, warning Americans away from the temptations of isolationism. Yet by manipulating the United Nations selection process for a new Secretary-General, he can have his cake and eat it too -- he can whip up an isolationist frenzy among the half of the voting public the Republicans need by using the spectre of a U.N. run by someone named Prince Hussein to inflame them, and at the same time, he can continue to make the case that whoever is in charge of the United States at any given time must continue to be given free reign to muck around in the internal politics of any other sovereign nation anywhere, using any means to hand, including internationally prohibited projections of naked military might.

I'll be watching with interest to see if and when this starts becoming a talking point on the right.

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