In Jerzy Kosinski’s novel and award-winning screenplay, “Being There,” the U.S. president turns to a plain-spoken gardener named Chance for wisdom at a time of economic crisis. The insight Chance offers is as simple as it is reassuring: Growth has its seasons and, as long as the roots of growth are not severed, all will be well.
President Barack Obama would be wise to add a gardener or farmer to his team of advisers. I already know what advice I’d offer if called to serve: Launch a new victory garden campaign starting with one on the White House lawn.
For those for whom “Reggie Bush” and “football” have no immediate connection (or who prefer Chelsea to Barcelona AC Milan), check out this video of soccer football star Didier Drogba, who in addition to a star on the pitch is also an important voice in the global fight against poverty.
As a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Development Program (UNDP), Drogba lends his fame to UNDP’s noble work rebuilding societies after conflict, promoting human rights and gender equality, and helping countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals. You’ll notice that one of the specific threats that Drogba calls attention to in this video is that of cluster bombs — the incredibly destructive munitions that over 100 countries have agreed to ban (but not, unfortunately, the United States).
The threats we face have no respect for borders. No single country, no matter how powerful, can best meet them alone. We believe that international alliances and organizations do not diminish America’s power they help us advance our collective security, economic interests and values. So we will engage. We will listen. We will consult. America needs the world, just as I believe the world needs America. But we say to our friends that the alliances, treaties and international organizations we build must be credible and they must be effective. That requires a common commitment not only to live by the rules, but to enforce them.
That is the bargain we seek.
I guess it’s video day here on UN Dispatch. Steve Clemons sends in an 11 minute video of his interview with former US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzhad. The video was cut right after Khalilzad’s talk at the New America Foundation two weeks ago. (You can read my take on that). Thanks to Steve for passing this along.
Just returning from and event at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC in which Steve Clemons played host/inquisitor/moderator to a discussion with outgoing United States ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad.
Khalilzad reflected that the United Nations was a “net positive” for the United States. He said he came into the job believing that “the United States needs the United Nations and the United Nations needs the United States” and left feeling the exact same way. When asked about his personal diplomatic style he responded that treating colleagues like equals — even those from small nations — can go a long way toward earning the United States the kind of trust and support that is required to effectively advance American interests at the United Nations.
Perhaps the newsiest bit came when Khalilzad addressed the controversy surrounding the United States abstention from the Gaza ceasefire resolution. He said that Rice spent an “unprecedented” three days working on the resolution, and that the United States drafted a big portion of the resolution, which he described as “very reasonable.” He then made two somewhat contradictory points. 1) That there was an imperative to pass a resolution before Friday evening prayers in the Arab world because the United States feared that not doing so could result in violence directed at its embassies in the Middle East. 2) That the ultimate decision to abstain from the resolution was done to give ongoing Franco-Egyptian diplomatic efforts more time.
What’s curious to me, at least, is why the United States would not vote in favor of a resolution that its ambassador considered “very reasonable” and its Secretary of State worked so hard on drafting?
Still, it is hard not to like and respect Ambassador Khalilzad, who brought a level of competency and passion to three critical posts in US government- ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations. He is unsure what his future holds, though he did rule out running for president of his native Afghanistan. He does, however, want to be an advocate for the people of Afghanistan and help that country in anyway he can. He suggested that he may work on projects related to education in Afghanistan. All the power to him.
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.