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After "My Year With Helen" Scorned Guterres, POLITICO Contrasts Him To Trump, Failures Ignored

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 22 – At the UN, is one-year Secretary General Antonio Guterres a glass half-full or entirely empty? While a recent independent film "My Year With Helen" depicts Guterres' election as a let down, and people from Southern Cameroons, Yemen and elsewhere would have to concur, now Politico Magazine has come in with a positive portrayal, contrasting Guterres to Trump: "The U.N.'s Most Important Peacekeeping Mission: Trump." Has Trump filled Guterres' glass, or given him an excuse? Turmp didn't make Guterres take the golden statue of Cameroon's 37-year dictator Paul Biya, and remain silent as opposition politicians were detained. Trump didn't make Guterres ignore for now the corruption exposed by the November 20, 2017 indictment of Cheikh Gadio and Patrick Ho of the China Energy Fund Committee for bribing UN President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa. None of these are found in the Politico piece, from a field-focused columnist who often nails it, for example as to UN enovy Staffan de Mistura. Maybe Guterres looks better from far away. Throughout 2016 New Zealand documentary maker Gaylene Preston and her crew staked out the UN Security Council along with Inner City Press, awaiting the results of the straw polls to elected Ban Ki-moon's sucessor as UN Secretary General. Preston's focus was Helen Clark, the former New Zealand prime minister then in her second term as Administrator of the UN Development Program. Preston would ask Inner City Press after each poll, What about Helen Clark's chances? Suffice it to say Clark never caught fire as a candidate. Inner City Press told Preston, as did many other interviewees in her documentary “My Year with Helen,” that it might be sexism. But it might be power too - including Samantha Power, the US Ambassador who spoke publicly about gender equality and then in secret cast a ballot Discouraging Helen Clark, and praised Antonio Guterres for his energy (yet to be seen). Samantha Power's hypocrisy is called out in Preston's film, in which New Zealand's Ambassador complains that fully four members of the Council claimed to be the single “No Opinion” vote that Clark received. There was a private screening of My Year With Helen on December 4 at NYU's King Juan Carlos Center, attended by a range of UN staff, a New Zealand designer of a website for the country's proposal new flag, and Ban Ki-moon's archivist, among others. After the screening there was a short Q&A session. Inner City Press used that to point out that Guterres has yet to criticize any of the Permanent Five members of the Council who did not block him as the US, France and China blocked Clark, with Russia casting a “No Opinion.” And that Guterres picked a male from among France's three candidates to head UN Peacekeeping which they own, and accepted males from the UK and Russia for “their” top positions. Then over New Zealand wine the talk turned to the new corruption at the UN, which is extensive, and the upcoming dubious Wall Street fundraiser of the UN Correspondents Association, for which some in attendance had been shaken down, as one put it, for $1200.  The UN needed and needs to be shaken up, and hasn't been. But the film is good, and should be screened not in the UN Censorship Alliance but directly in the UN Security Council, on the roll-down movie screen on which failed envoys like Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed are projected. “My Year With Helen” is well worth seeing.


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