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Thursday, April 15, 2004

Abandoning the UN -- Again

It has been widely reported this week that career diplomat John D. Negroponte, the current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will be leaving his current posting to become the American Ambassador to Iraq.

This is another clear signal that the Bush administration's worldview is topsy-turvy.

In most administrations, the UN role is a Cabinet-level post that would only be vacated by someone moving out of government or up in the hierarchy. Madeline Albright was made Secretary of State in the Clinton administration after serving first as UN Ambassador.

Ask any career US foreign service officer. Would they rather be US ambassador to a specific country or US ambassador to the UN? I'm guessing that well over 90% would say the UN -- and I'm hedging only because (a) the post is political; and (b) some careerists might prefer London or Paris over NY.

Negroponte's leap to Baghdad from NY headquarter says a lot about the Bush administration's priorities. The UN is viewed as a virtual backwater, Iraq is ground zero of "high politics." Winning the peace in Baghdad is central to the administration's strategy in the war on terror -- sort of a perverted Kantian/Wilsonian vision that ostensibly values democracy within states very highly even as it significantly downplays the virtues of multilateralism. In their view, who needs international restraints on power?

To make clear the elevated new status, maybe Bush is going to nickname Negroponte "Viceroy"?

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