Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Tacky Back-Tracking At The UN

The press gaggle at the UN was a lot of fun today.

What kicked it off, of course, was Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch Brown's statement, here from the NYT write-up:
In a highly unusual instance of a United Nations official singling out an individual country for criticism, Mr. Malloch Brown said that although the United States was constructively engaged with the United Nations in many areas, the American public was shielded from knowledge of that by Washington's tolerance of what he called "too much unchecked U.N.-bashing and stereotyping."

"Much of the public discourse that reaches the U.S. heartland has been largely abandoned to its loudest detractors such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News," he said.
Here's part of the transcript of the media hounds barking at a UN spokesperson who is holding his ground, but obviously not relishing his job:
Question: Stéphane, the United States today expressed extreme outrage at the Deputy Secretary-General’s statement in which he accuses the United States of undermining the world body. And, it was said that the Secretary-General should repudiate the body, and some sort of action should be taken. Do you have any reaction to that?

Spokesman: First of all, the Secretary-General stands by the statement made by his Deputy, Mark Malloch Brown, and he agrees with the thrust of it. So, there is no question of any action being taken against the Deputy Secretary-General.

Question: When the United Nations is in the throes of a financial crisis and everything else, bringing this issue to a head is going to create chaos.

Spokesman: I think I would encourage everyone to read the speech in full. It should not be interpreted as an anti-US speech. In fact, it is a speech calling for greater United States involvement in the United Nations. It makes clear that the UN cannot work without US engagement and US leadership. And, UN reforms and effective operations cannot happen without the US. And, that is the thrust of the speech. Yes, Nick?

Question: Steph, regardless of whether or not this speech is true, does the Secretary-General consider it somewhat impolitic that Mark Malloch Brown accused the US Government essentially of keeping Middle America in the dark about the good works of the UN –- this stealth diplomacy -- might that not have been the best way to go about criticizing the United States?

: I think, again, it is not a speech criticizing the US. I think, obviously, we can probably do a better job of publicizing our own efforts throughout the globe, including in the United States. But, it is also the responsibility of every Government to make sure its population is well informed. We all have a role to play in this issue.
Calling us a bunch of rubes who are easily duped by a conspiracy between the Prez, Rush and Fox ... well, that's not anti-US is it?

Then it got really interesting. In the midst of this naming-of-names by Molloch Brown, this question popped up:
Question: A two-part question then: does this mean that this sort of unwritten UN rule of senior officials’ not “naming and shaming” countries no longer applies? And if that’s the case, can you tell us the countries whose peacekeepers are being investigated, or against whom claims have found to be substantiated in Liberia?
That was followed by some clumsy dodging in which the spokesman dodged Liberia and referenced groups of countries -- G-77 -- not specific countries. Then the follow-up:
Question: And, the last question -– did Mark Malloch Brown clear his speech with the Secretary-General, specifically, his mentions of “stealth diplomacy” and “keeping the heartland in the dark”?

Spokesman: What I will say again is that the Secretary-General stands by the statement made by the Deputy Secretary-General and agrees with the thrust of it.
So there you have it. The UN's top two are in agreement that there's a conspiracy afoot in the US to keep all us dumb Americans in the dark.

And we are dumb. We continue to fund that hopelessly corrupt and inefficient organization.

Hat-tip: Hugh
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