The race to succeed Kofi Annan as the UN's next Secretary-General is getting more attention. South Korea's Ban Ki-Moon has placed first in two straw polls of the UN Security Council, and at this writing would seem to be the favorite. Ban is a product of Harvard and a career diplomat and he has received good grades for his part in the North Korea nuclear negotiations. But late-entry candidates are getting in the race, indicating that the permanent members of the Security Council haven't yet settled on a choice to send to the General Assembly.
Shashi Tharoor – the Indian who wants to be chief of the United Nations – is hot on Ban Ki-Moon's tail. Tharoor now serves as Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information at the UN and was Kofi's chief spin master during the Oil-for-Food scandal. He has finished second to Ban in both Council straw polls.
After receiving the nomination of the Indian government this summer, Tharoor has been hopping the globe, lamenting the fact that "this used to be a job for which people didn't have to campaign." The ultimate UN insider, Tharoor longs for the days when "the Security Council discussed names behind closed doors."
Tharoor bleeds powder blue, having spent his whole career on the international public dole. If elected Secretary-General – and a recent Security Council straw poll shows him with the requisite support – Tharoor will continue Kofi Annan's legacy of building the UN into a global bureaucracy. The UN, Tharoor demands, must be built into "an effective house of global governance for the twenty-first century." Tharoor's determination to have the UN govern the globe makes him a candidate worthy of a U.S. veto.
Tharoor is a master at spin. As part of the disgraced team that allowed some of the worst scandals in UN history, Tharoor recently told a reporter that "the UN is not in need of reform because it has failed, but because it has succeeded in a whole host of endeavors, enough to be investing in."
Despite the fact that the UN is a closed and secretive institution, Tharoor told BBC reporter Jeremy Paxman that "we [at the United Nations] tend to work in a very open and transparent way." Then, during the same interview, Tharoor answered the reporter's questions with statements like, "I'm not at liberty to tell you that"; "I'm not going to go into that level of detail"; "no, I really can't tell you"; and "that is not something that I can really go into in any detail right now." Open and transparent indeed.
Thomas P. Kilgannon is the president of Freedom
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