Tuesday, January 09, 2007

An old Asia hand to the UN
By Ian Williams

Some of the article covers material that I've already posted. Click for the full article, or just read below for the update.

Asia Times

NEW YORK - Seemingly substantial rumors are sweeping Washington and the UN that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, at President George W Bush's suggestion, is about to appoint Burton Lynn Pascoe, currently US ambassador to Indonesia, as head of the UN's Department of Political Affairs.

At least it won't be former ambassador John Bolton, and at least Pascoe is a foreign service professional deeply aware of the rest of the world. A three-year spell in Taiwan and a knowledge of Mandarin, time in Central Asia and China and you begin to see why Ban could feel he could appoint such a nominee.

Indeed, one cannot help speculating how much toing and froing there was before the White House came up with a candidate so unusually experienced and knowledgeable by this administration's (or indeed others') standards and whose Asian experience would make him acceptable to Ban.

Even so, it does not augur well for the United Nations or the United States to have any American identified with the current White House (or for that matter any previous administration's) heading such a crucial department, especially as one of the leading neo-cons, ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, has been nominated to replace Bolton.

Pascoe is too sophisticated to thank Bush publicly for his appointment, as did Christopher Burnham, the previous under secretary general for management. But one cannot help thinking that he will keep his fingers crossed when he takes the international civil servant's oath.


However, it is still early days. Ban's "mis-speaking" on the UN's attitude to the death penalty over Saddam Hussein's execution was a rite of passage in which he had not yet shed his mental position as South Korea's representative. However, he has a considerably better chance of transitioning into a genuine international civil servant than Pascoe.

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