Kofi Annan’s intemperate labelling of an Israeli bombardment that hit a UN post in south Lebanon last week as “apparently deliberate” – before he had even been briefed – is just another straw (Rwanda, Oil-for-Fraud) on the long-ago broken camel’s back of Annan’s credibility. And it firms up an item that should be added to the Conservatives’ majority government checklist: get Brian Mulroney in as Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Mulroney, as has been said only half in jest, has every major dictator on speed dial. He still maintains unsurpassed business and political connections worldwide. As Secretary-General, he would have the respect of the nations who do the heavy lifting and pay the bills, the skills to flatter the nuttier regimes, and the negotiating ability to convince all parties they will get something out of a deal.
If a majority were to be achieved while George W. Bush is still in office, Mulroney’s appointment would likely enjoy the enthusiastic support of the US. The Bushies’ naming of John Bolton as their UN ambassador, and the diplomatic tongue-lashings that Bolton has been delivering at the UN, suggest that the Bush administration does not view the UN as entirely useless, merely misdirected and mismanaged.
By coincidence, Mulroney’s eldest son, Canadian Idol host Ben Mulroney, has just been appointed a national ambassador for UNICEF Canada. Or maybe it’s not a coincidence.
It must be noted that Mulroney’s name has come up for the job before, in October of 1991. This was when Mulroney was barely three years into his second majority mandate, but one year after the GST was implemented and the Meech Lake Accord collapsed. After several days of fevered Toronto Star headlines, Sheila Copps’ demand that he resign, and one round of voting, Mulroney withdrew his name from contention. Boutros-Boutros Ghali of Egypt emerged the winner.
An Angus Reid-Southam News poll taken at that time suggested that 56 per cent of Canadians thought Mulroney should accept the job if it were offered to him, but this may have been more reflective of Mulroney’s unpopularity than Canadians’ enthusiasm for his diplomatic skills. The New Yorker magazine later reported that Mulroney had been actively seeking the job as a suitable exit from politics, but Mulroney denied it.