Sunday, August 23, 2009

Awww, Snap! Leaked U.N. Memo Calls Ban Ki-moon 'Spineless and Charmless'

Katie Paul

If you don't have something nice to say, you probably shouldn't say it at all. And if you're a senior diplomat at the United Nations, you certainly shouldn't write it.

But write it she did. Mona Juul, Norway's No. 2 at the U.N., wrote a confidential internal memo slamming Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's leadership as weak, ineffective, lacking in charisma, and—more often than not—just plain absent. Yesterday, the memo leaked to the Norwegian press. Ms. Juul, on vacation with her husband, was unavailable to mop up the mess.

It's sure to be an unpleasant episode for all involved, but it's about time someone said it. As the memo's juiciest tidbits point out, this opinion has been the word on the street at the U.N. for some time. It's no secret that the previous U.S. administration was more than content to have an ineffective leader steering the U.N. ship. That may not be the case anymore. In the most noteworthy paragraph, Ms. Juul reveals rumors that Washington may not be keen to keep Mr. Ban on for second term. They may run into opposition from China, which is perfectly happy to maintain the organization's status quo. If President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and U.N. Ambassador Rice are serious about engaging with the U.N., this is a development to keep an eye on.

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