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Multilateral is French for America-bashing

Some diplomats are annoyed at the United States because we keep using our influence in international affairs. The United States successfully pushed to have Jose Bustani, the head of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Warfare, removed from his post. This comes a week after the United States' successful effort to replace the head of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, thus "prompting concern among some countries about the way Washington is able to influence the fate of international officials who fall foul of its policies." Uh, isn't that the way it's supposed to work? Is the United States supposed to support international officials who don't act in our interests? Well, if you believe the French, the answer is apparently yes:

Some delegates shared Bustani's disquiet. "Multilateralism is based on the independence of international organizations and their leaders," says Anne Gazeau-Secret, the ambassador of France, which abstained in Monday's vote.

If other governments followed the US lead and sought to remove United Nations officials whom they disliked, she worried, "a chain reaction risks leading to the destruction of the multilateral system."

Doesn't that just sum up the attitude of the French so perfectly? Bureaucrats are supposed to be "independent." They're not supposed to be responsive to their constituents. Trying to get them to be accountable would destroy multilateralism.

Incidentally, reading complaints such as the one above, one might get the impression that the United States sent in Navy Seals to arrest Bustani and remove him from office. In fact, the OPCW held a vote, which Bustani lost, 48-7. Uh, that sounds like multilateralism to me. (And the seven who voted in favor of Bustani? In addition to his home country of Brazil, the freedom-loving states of Belarus, China, Cuba, Iran, Mexico, and Russia. Is the United States supposed to be apologetic for disagreeing with this bunch?)

But it gets even more hypocritical: some complained because they alleged that the United States was using money to sway the outcome of the vote. (The U.S. hasn't yet paid half of its 20% share of the organization's $60 million budget.) So, according to the multilaterists, the United States should pay far more than its share but not have any special influence over the workings of the organization. Say, whatever happened to no taxation without representation, anyway?


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 28, 2002 7:24 PM.

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