UNVANQUISHED: A U.S.-U.N. Saga.UNVANQUISHED: A U.S.-U.N. Saga by Boutros Boutros-Ghali Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Arabic: بطرس بطرس غالي Coptic: BOYTPOC BOYTPOC ΓΑΛΗ) (born November 14, 1922) is an Egyptian diplomat who was the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations from Random House, #29.95
I remember thinking during the 1996 presidential campaign how nasty it was that Republican candidate Bob Dole would get up in front of crowds all over the country and mock the name of the Secretary General of the United Nations: "Boootrus, Booo-trus Ghali." The middle-American inclination to make fun of foreign names might be tolerable in high schools or on the lips of late night TV comedians, but from the mouth of a U.S. presidential candidate, it seemed especially unbecoming. It turns out the man who was the object of Bob Dole's derision had the same reaction, in spades. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the sixth Secretary General of the United Nations and the only one to serve a single term, mentions it on page four of his just-published memoir, Unvanquished: A U.S.-U.N. Saga: "His mocking pronunciation of my name ... sounded like a jeering crowd, and his claim that American troops served under my `command' invariably in·var·i·a·ble
Not changing or subject to change; constant.
in·vari·a·bil aroused his audiences."
Boutros-Ghali, the first Arab and the first African to hold the position of Secretary General, did not start his term as an angry man. He came to the United Nations with new and bold ideas about what role it should play in the post-Cold War world. John Major called him a lucky man, and when Boutros-Ghali published An Agenda for Peace in 1992, he was hailed for breathing new life into what many saw as a moribund moribund /mor·i·bund/ (mor´i-bund) in a dying state.
At the point of death; dying.
mor organization. "I could not have asked for a more positive start in my job," he writes. Boutros-Ghali's ideas for coping with the proliferation of regional and civil conflicts erupting e·rupt
v. e·rupt·ed, e·rupt·ing, e·rupts
1. To emerge violently from restraint or limits; explode: My neighbor erupted in anger over the noise.
2. nearly everywhere boiled down to this: preventive deployment The deployment of military forces to deter violence at the interface or zone of potential conflict where tension is rising among parties. Forces may be employed in such a way that they are indistinguishable from a peacekeeping force in terms of equipment, force posture, and activities. of peacekeepers at the "earliest warning of serious trouble" and peace-enforcement" combat-ready units provided by member states" to "fill the gap between traditional U.N. peacekeeping units ... and large-scale operations?" These would be expensive ideas and far more controversial than they originally sounded. They would also eventually spark a suspicion and dislike in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. that no Secretary General of the United Nations had ever experienced, and they would bring Boutros-Ghali down. Boutros-Ghali sent the first contingent of peacekeepers to the former Yugoslavia, and with the support of President Bush, the first peacekeepers into the failed state of Somalia. There were also substantial U.N. initiatives mounted in Cambodia and Haiti in 1992. His face appeared on the cover of Time on January 18, 1993, two days before Bill Clinton was inaugurated as president. With Clinton came the woman who would become Boutros-Ghali's nemesis Nemesis (nĕm`ĭsĭs), in Greek religion and mythology, personification of the gods' retribution for violation of sacred law; the avenger. Sometimes she was said to be the goddess of good and ill fortune. : Madeleine Albright Madeleine Korbel Albright (born May 15 1937) was the first woman to become United States Secretary of State. She was nominated by President Bill Clinton on December 5 1996 and was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate 99-0. She was sworn in on January 23 1997. , the new United States Ambassador to the United Nations The United States Ambassador to the United Nations (full title: Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, and Representative of the United States of America in the Security .
Boutros-Ghali's portrait of Albright is one of the most fascinating and candid aspects of his memoir. He cannot resist taking a swipe from the start, calling her "short and plump" She seemed to "strike attitudes rather than address substantive issues?" In contrast to the difficult diplomatic work of persuasion, he writes, she preferred "to lecture or speak in declarative sentences, or simply to read verbatim from her briefing books."
Boutros-Ghali relates in detail the evolution of the 1993 conflicts in both Bosnia and Somalia, and the exercise is a valuable one. His account demonstrates how apparently natural allies can work at cross-purposes and eventually end up adversaries. At the center of this is the issue of the use of military power to back up diplomacy, a central theme of the Clinton administration's foreign policy. It arose early in Clinton's first term in 1993 over the question of air strikes in Bosnia and the use of force in Somalia. Boutros-Ghali depicts the Clinton foreign policy team as hopelessly confused about the relationship between diplomacy and military force, even eager to use military force that would have endangered U.N. personnel in Bosnia and gone far beyond Security Council resolutions the United States had supported.
This confusion led rapidly to the breakdown of relations between Boutros-Ghali and the Clintonites. By the end of 1993, things had sunk so low that in a meeting among the Secretary General, Secretary of State Warren Christopher Warren Minor Christopher (born October 27, 1925) is an American diplomat and lawyer. During Bill Clinton's first term as President, Christopher served as the 63rd Secretary of State. , and Albright, the three could not communicate at all on the urgent issues before them: Bosnia, Somalia, and Haiti. One of Boutros-Ghali's aides described this meeting as "worse than a disaster?" None of the three was well-informed about all the complexities in each case (Boutros-Ghali acknowledges his own shortcomings A shortcoming is a character flaw.
Shortcomings may also be:
"`All right,' Christopher said finally, `the U.S. will keep you advised more about our intentions, but the U.S. expects to be respected more by you.' `I respect you one hundred percent,' I said, `but I need to be told more about what you want, what you are doing, and where you want to go.'"
That didn't help. By 1994, Boutros-Ghali writes: "The United States conveyed nothing to me directly. All I knew was what I read in the newspapers?"
As the pressure from the war in Bosnia intensified, Boutros-Ghali saw the U.S. role as increasingly contradictory and problematic. He calls U.S. foreign policy "utterly confused" at the midpoint mid·point
1. Mathematics The point of a line segment or curvilinear arc that divides it into two parts of the same length.
2. A position midway between two extremes. of Clinton's first term. By 1995, the administration was calling for air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs, but he observes that, by opposing the redeployment re·de·ploy
tr.v. re·de·ployed, re·de·ploy·ing, re·de·ploys
1. To move (military forces) from one combat zone to another.
2. of U.N. peace-keepers there, the United States was "making an air assault impossible?" He concludes that U.S. policy was nothing but rhetoric. Finally, Srebrenica put an end to what Boutros-Ghali calls "the two-faced U.S. policy."
Boutros-Ghali's account of the end of his tenure as Secretary General is far more entertaining than we could expect from a diplomat. He recounts many private conversations with Albright and others; it is an inside look at how diplomats treat each other out of the earshot ear·shot
The range within which sound can be heard by the unaided ear; hearing distance: listened until the parade was out of earshot. of microphones. After a particularly sharp rebuke from James Rubin James Philip "Jamie" Rubin (born 1960 in New York City), is a former assistant to President Bill Clinton and a television news journalist and commentator. Career
Rubin, who is Jewish, graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in political science in 1982, and an M.A. , Albright's spokesman at the United Nations and now spokesman for the State Department, Boutros-Ghali told a private meeting of the Security Council that he was shocked by the "vulgarity" of Rubin's statement, which in the text he calls "despicable." A few days later, Boutros-Ghali and Albright lunched side by side and said nothing of it.
There is no doubt from his account that Boutros-Ghali is still smarting from the nasty and vindictive American campaign to prevent his second term as Secretary General. But as he acknowledges from the start, it was his bad luck (John Major's remark notwithstanding) that his re-election bid coincided with an American presidential election campaign (it rarely does). Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher, two diplomats with acute awareness of the requirements of American presidential politics, made sure that Booo-trus, Booo-trus Ghali would not be an issue Bob Dole could exploit.
Albright ultimately succeeded in ousting oust
tr.v. oust·ed, oust·ing, ousts
1. To eject from a position or place; force out: "the American Revolution, which ousted the English" Virginia S. Eifert. Boutros-Ghali by casting an American veto in the Security Council. But the United States paid a price. The veto was over the votes of all fourteen other members of the Security Council. Albright failed to convince a single nation to support the U.S. campaign against Boutros-Ghali. He calls this a "rejection of democracy."
Near the end of Unvanquished, Boutros-Ghali writes that with his departure the United Nations "would be less of a target and less of a scapegoat for the United States. But I feared that it also was likely to become less in every regard." His fears were well founded. U.N. peacekeeping has steadily been curtailed since that time. The United Nations is still a cash-strapped organization. It has less to do with the former Yugoslavia than it did in the early '90s, and as a result of the U.S. bombing in December, the operation of UNSCOM UNSCOM United Nations Special Commission in Iraq--one of the great success stories of the United Nations in the '90s--is now terminally paralyzed par·a·lyze
tr.v. par·a·lyzed, par·a·lyz·ing, par·a·lyz·es
1. To affect with paralysis; cause to be paralytic.
2. To make unable to move or act: paralyzed by fear. .
Only a future president of the United States The head of the Executive Branch, one of the three branches of the federal government.
The U.S. Constitution sets relatively strict requirements about who may serve as president and for how long. may have the courage to return to the serious consideration of whether the United States has the power and the intelligence to use the United Nations and U.N. peacekeeping to its advantage in a world throwing up violent challenges to stability and progress in every quarter.
We cannot expect that consideration from Bill Clinton or Madeleine Albright.
Mike Shuster Mike Shuster is a diplomatic correspondent and a roving foreign correspondent for National Public Radio in the United States. External links