Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Americas vs. Americans

How things change. Today, former Sandinista foreign minister and fierce US critic Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann was unanimously elected to be the next President of the General Assembly. Despite US concerns for a man who called manifest destiny a "demon" ideology, who referred to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as "aggression," and Reagan as a "butcher," the Group of Latin American and Caribbean states, who offered up his candidacy, got him through unopposed, and the US rolled over with very little opposition. They didn't even call for a vote to express their opposition. Brockmann was approved by acclamation.

Even two years ago, this tame reaction would have been unimagineable. If John Bolton was still Ambassador, we members of the press corps would have doubtless born witness to a fiery oratory outside the Security Council today about how this proves the General Assembly is irrelevant... the view that most of the US Mission appears to have but that few care to out-and-out broadcast as publicly as Bolton would. As it was, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad expressed hope that "a page has been turned" and that such behaviour wouldn't repeat itself.

Father Brockmann was more subdued in his press conference today. He said he didn't think the US was evil. Some of his best friends are Americans, he said. (Really.) But he did not take back any of his previous comments, and said that the world is caught in a "quagmire of individualism and selfishness." He also came perilously close to endorsing Barack Obama, quoting his campaign slogan "change we can believe in" as evidence that the US is no longer an international menace.

It's going to be a rough autumn in the GA, is all I can say.

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