Ban Ki-Moon, South Korea’s Foreign Minister, chief promoter of appeasement of the North, and occasional provider of adult supervision to Roh Moo-Hyun’s government, is making official what has been known for months: he wants to be U.N. Secretary General. He would succeed Kofi Annan, who presided over the Oil-for-Food scandal, a procurement scandal, sexual abuse scandals, and several partially successful genocides without being driven out of office in shame (as if).
Expect the Bush Administration to work quietly, behind the scenes, to block Ban’s ascendancy–particularly if it wants to preserve the option of U.N. action regarding North Korea, something Ban would inevitably oppose. More broadly, Ban represents a continuation of the same mindset that has badly eroded the U.N.’s effectiveness and its reputation.
If only we could talk Vaclav Havel into running . . . .
Update: The Joongang Ilbo discusses the story in somewhat more depth, and let’s all join in wishing Mr. Ban luck on this endeavor:
Shortly after the announcement, Mr. Ban told reporters that he was seeking international and domestic support for his bid, and had called officials in Tokyo to that end. “I am thankful that Japan has said that the next secretary general should come from the Asian region,” he said. “I hope Japan will look at this in light of a future-oriented South Korea-Japan relationship.” Seoul has opposed Japan’s bid to become a permanent UN Security Council member, citing a lack of reflection by Japan on its imperial past.
It’s got to be difficult to ask for Japan’s support while still appealing to nationalist sentiment at home. There’s also plenty of competition for Ban:
Seoul is not the only nation to be doing some private arm-twisting. Other possible candidates, either officially announced or disclosed in leaks to the media, include the Thai deputy prime minister, Surakiart Sathirathai; the foreign minister of East Timor, Jose Ramos-Horta, who also has a Nobel peace prize on his resume; Jordan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zeid Raed Hussein; the Turkish head of the UN Development Program, Kemal Dervis, and Jayanta Dhanapals of Sri Lanka, who has served in the past as the UN’s chief disarmament official and his country’s ambassador to the United States. Poland’s former president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate.
John Bolton hasn’t expressed views on any particular candidate, although he’s declared his agnosticism about the idea that the interests of regional balance require the next GS to come from Asia. Could that suggest that the U.S. isn’t terribly fond of any of the Asian candidates?