...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

September 16, 2006

A Woman For U.N. Sec Gen

I know I've already endorsed Elton John to succeed Kofi Annan as U.N. Secretary General, but there is a new candidate who has sparked my interest.

Latvian President Dr. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga announced her intention yesterday to run for the post. Her competition includes South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon; U.N. undersecretary-general for public affairs Shashi Tharoor of India; Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai; Jordan's U.N. Ambassador Prince Zeid al Hussein; and former U.N. disarmament chief Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka.

Conventional wisdom says that Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga's chances are slim, due to Russian opposition and the informal tradition of rotating the U.N.'s top post between regions. Asia is next in line and therefore many believe Ban Ki-moon to be the front runner.

In Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga's announcement, she addressed the regional rotation issue:

[T]he member states of the UN should be able to select the best candidate for the post of Secretary General in an open, transparent process. We do not accept the principle of regional rotation as the principal and sole factor in the selection of a candidate. While I deeply respect the candidates that have already been nominated, the selection procedure should not restrict the rights and opportunities of other potential candidates. I hope that the choice made by the Security Council and the General Assembly will be based solely on the candidates’ qualifications, personal qualities and vision of the future of the UN.
I agree, especially given what I learned about Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga's qualifications after only a little bit of research.

She's very popular in Latvia, a country that has done amazingly well since declaring independence from the Soviet empire in 1990. As she told the Danish Foreign Policy Society last month:

The transformation of my own country, Latvia, has taken place at every level. We take pride in having one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. Since 2002, Latvia’s GDP growth has averaged at close to 8% (7.7%) per year. In 2005 it reached 10.2%, the highest rate of growth since the restoration of our independence. And during the first quarter of this year, it was registered at a stunning 13.1%, the highest rate in the European Union. Economic forecasts predict that this stable growth will continue in the coming years.
Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga is also proud of Latvia's progress on integration and education of its ethnic minorities.
Latvia has had to work very hard to overcome the tragic legacy of Soviet rule. One of the greatest challenges we have faced is the integration of those persons who settled in our country during the occupation, and their descendants. By the end of July of this year, nearly 114000 persons had naturalized to become citizens of the Republic of Latvia. When we regained our independence in 1991, less than a quarter of those who represent Latvia’s ethnic minorities could speak Latvian. By the year 2000, more than half could, and that percentage continues to rise. We have begun to implement an education reform that balances Latvia’s traditional respect for the rights of minority languages with the need to build a cohesive society. The motto adopted by the EU two years ago is “Unity in Diversity.” Latvia is a multicultural country that adopted one of the first laws guaranteeing education in minority languages close to 100 years ago, in 1919. Our experience with integration can serve as an example at a time when tolerance based in shared values is essential to Europe’s future. Unity and diversity need not necessarily be perceived as contradictory terms.
In regards to international policy, I'm impressed that Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga seems to understand the threat of totalitarian ideologies motivated by racism. In her July speech to a Holocaust scholarship conference in Riga, she alluded to the obvious parallel between the Nazis and today's Islamic fascists:
And this is something that is extremely important for us to study because ideologies that demarcate some human beings under a special label and anybody who belongs to that special label then being marked for extinction, are the very root cause, the very basis of murderous genocides. Elsewhere in the world we see them happening on the basis of tribal belonging, on the basis of religious differences in various parts of the world, in the name of an ideology, in the name of a religion, whatever. It is extremely important for us to understand the principles, by which racism is defined and how is it that not just oppressive regimes and totalitarian governments, but also free movements of volunteers can be seduced into following such ideologies, where the destruction of somebody labelled either as an inferior or as an enemy is part and parcel of one’s being and when the aim is so high to destroy the other that people even come to the point of destroying themselves, where the hatred becomes so deep that they literally are ready to explode themselves in that hatred in the hope of bringing others along.

Those depths of human hatred have not disappeared from the world. They are still everywhere around us. And even when they are not official policies of some totalitarian government, when they become part of seductive ideologies that actually sway young people to join them, we have to be very very concerned and we have to continue working to understand them.

Her philosophy appears somewhat conservative to me, although I am troubled by her belief that the E.U. should adopt a common foreign policy. She favors a more "flexible" approach to labor, which would lower unemployment. And she recognizes that the E.U. is over-legislated and their regulatory scheme needs to be simplified to stimulate business.

Latvian troops are currently in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Kosovo and Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga is considered an ally of the Bush administration. While that's probably enough to doom her candidacy, I can't help wondering what it would be like to have a pro-American Sec Gen for a change (or at least one who is not openly anti-American and anti-semitic).

Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga concluded her speech to the Danish Foreign Policy Society with these words:

Naturally, every nation has its own, national interests. In today’s world, however, relations between nations are not a zero-sum game. It is in every nation’s interest to overcome the mistrust that prevents the effective functioning of multilateral institutions. In today’s world, no nation can stand alone against the challenges of our era. We will only overcome terrorism and other 21st –century threats if we co-operate more closely and reform the structures that make co-operation possible.
I can easily picture a U.N. leader exhorting member states to work together with similar words. But the meaning behind those words changes dramatically depending on whether the speaker is a Kofi Annan type or someone with the type of values I think Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga holds. I'd like to see her win.

Posted by annika, Sep. 16, 2006 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry


thats a lot of blogging on a weekend Annie, you should be watching football.

Posted by: kyle8 on Sep. 16, 2006

i am. Yay Auburn!

Posted by: annika on Sep. 16, 2006

Two things:

STFU MUSSFUCKER! Nobody but nobody gives a flying fuck about AFLAC trivia.

Running the UN is all about being a corrupt third world toad. Being economically viable is an automatic non-starter. She's just not fit for the job.

Posted by: Casca on Sep. 16, 2006

I thought Bill Clinton was campaigning for the job.

Think of all the strange booty he could get in THAT job...

Posted by: shelly on Sep. 17, 2006

There would be no end to the hilarity if Lyin' Bill stepped back up on the world stage.

On another note, Annie must be in an orgasmic haze with Andrew Walters in the Oakland lineup. Funny the difference that one player in a key position can make.

Posted by: Casca on Sep. 17, 2006

I wouldn't know. We got a new cable box from Time Fucking Warner yesterday and the damn thing won't work. I hate Time Fucking Warner in all of it's various manifestations.

Posted by: annika on Sep. 17, 2006

Have the BF climb the pole, and pirate the signal. The service will be the same, but the price will be right.

Actually, you were spared watching the fucking hapless Raiders piss themselves in public. It was an Old School East Coast Thug, meets West Coast Punks. Even with last minute fucktard officiating giving them half the field, and whistling a fumble dead, they STILL couldn't get in the endzone. Walter went in during the 1st quarter, and stayed in the game. As the boys in the box said, "At least he can take a snap".

On a personal note, God bless Art Schell. He's made me richer today.

Posted by: Casca on Sep. 17, 2006

My favorite team won another game today!

Posted by: shelly on Sep. 17, 2006


No posts about the Golden Ones?

C'mon, they found their game this Saturday and you give 'em the silent treatment.

Posted by: shelly on Sep. 17, 2006

Yes, i read on the internets that Cal won. Since i was unable to watch the game without the picture breaking into a million little digital rectangles every two seconds.

Has anyone noticed my new rotating epigram?

Posted by: annie on Sep. 18, 2006

They may have declared independence in 1990, but it was well after we went through this crap in Lithuania that they won it. Really, all of the Baltics won de facto independence in August 1991, in the wake of the coup that ousted Gorby and elevated Yeltsin.

Posted by: John on Sep. 18, 2006