UN P-5, France and UK Talk Secret, US Fetes New Diplomat, Russia
Dubious on Yemen, China Flew in 3 Hours
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 19 -- Amid the Haitian
earthquake emergency, attacks
on Kabul, in Yemen and in Darfur,
the US Mission to the UN on Tuesday
night welcomed a diplomat into the fold, on the 42nd floor of the
As U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative Alejandro
Wolff put it in his introduction, Rick Barton has represented the US in
30 countries in
ten years. And on his family vacation, he went to post-Katrina New
Orleans to build homes.
reception, complete with miniature grilled cheese sandwiches and
brownies, began with somber statements for Haiti. In the crowd, many
asked Inner City Press if the coverage of the UN was too negative,
unfair, sensational. CNN's Anderson Cooper showed looters; the
Washington Post's new Turtle swung for the fences dubbing Haiti "Ban's
a UN Foundation
luncheon on Tuesday, Ban Ki-moon took that author to task for several
minutes, publicly. This, apparently, is the new take-charge Ban, more
general than secretary, at least for now. From Haiti via video link
Ban's former spokesman
Michele Montas also said the media is being too negative. Ban envoy Edmond
Mulet called the Press irresponsible.
Missions to the UN of the UK and France take a different approach to
the media. Each has an off the record
briefing scheduled January 20 for selected reporters. The two used to
hold such briefings on different days, but then even the "Western
diplomat" moniker was too transparent.
Now they hide
other, only because few file stories between the UK's early morning
briefing and France's 5 p.m. follow up. Call them the taciturn twins.
One knows what was said but it not supposed to report it. What then is
one the UK
Ambassador should be asked:
is it true, as Middle Eastern sources
say, that the UK is trying in the Security Council to bring up the
conflict in Yemen, specifically targeting Iran's support for some
UK's Lyall Grant and US in Council, Yemen and
secret briefings not shown
account, the Russians balked, saying as Missourians
do, Show me. Or at least wait
until the conference on Yemen in London
on January 27.
January 25 in Montreal, there's a conference on Haiti. France's
Ambassador Araud -- who initially put the date at February 25 -- took
a decidedly different stance on the U.S. in Haiti than did his
foreign minister and Cooperation minister.
questioned U.S. domination, while Araud
stepped back and said, we are grateful, we live here. But what will
he say behind closed doors?
suggesting to Inner City Press that Araud was being diplomatic --
imagine that! -- also lambasted the Obama administration's
resurrection of the Monroe Doctrine. "They have spoken with the
Brazilians and the Canadians," he said, "as if that is
the US hardly
briefs anymore, and the UK and France do so mostly on deepest
background. What has happened, some wonder, to these P-2, P-3, even
P-5? Chinese Ambassador Liu on Tuesday night told Inner City Press that
China had its search and rescue team in the air to Haiti three hours
after the earthquake. He asked, of disaster forecasting, "But why
didn't they have
notice?" Why indeed.
Ironically the Chinese mission can be more open than the UK or
France. With decided irony, a Chinese diplomat told Inner City Press
that the Council first Press Statement on Haiti was only
unobjectionable because of the UN presence there. Otherwise, he said
with a wink, it would be an internal matter.
UN Missions of the UK and France, while espousing free press, play a
more elite game, casting aspersions on background, what some call a
secret club of slander and others call diplomatic. They want their
positions put in a positive light, but provide only selective
Rick Barton, after a stirring speech of the type that perhaps should
have been deployed earlier in Massachusetts, ended with a folksy tale
from his childhood. He lived in Bronxville -- connected he said to
world affairs by one who died with Dag Hammarskjold in his Central
African plane crash -- and visited the UN. His mother ran across First
Avenue, causes taxi after taxi to screech to a stop.
lady," the last cabbie shouted, addressing his mother as he had never
heard before. "Next year, the Olympics!" Barton related this challenge
to his UN work, a marathon of plenary speeches. But that's only the on
the record part. Watch this site.
* * *
UN, It's "All Hail" to US in Haiti, While Elsewhere France
and Brazil Are Critical
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 18 -- As the UN
Security Council emptied out Monday
at noon, sources told Inner City Press that in closed
the U.S. said that to strengthen the mandate of the UN Mission in
Haiti, MINUSTAH, would "send the wrong message... that the
Haitian government is weak."
Alejandro Wolff, who represented the U.S. in the meeting and spoke
afterwards to the Press, said that the U.S. is supporting UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's request for a vote authorizing 2000
more troops and 1500 more police for MINUSTAH.
asked Ambassador Wolff if it is true that the U.S. thinking
strengthening the mandate would send some wrong message. Wolff
replied that the UN, including chief Peacekeeper Alain Leroy, has not
identified any deficiency in the mandate.
Ambassador left the Council, Inner City Press asked her about public
quotes from Brazil that MINUSTAH's mandate should, in fact, be
bolstered. She, however, called the mandate "sufficient."
about any difficulties Brazilian NGOs have had getting
into Haiti through the airport, now run by the U.S., she said there
have been "no such problems."
Gerard Araud, too, was over the top in his praise of the U.S.,
telling the Press that "we are living in the US after all." Inner City
asked if, as reported, France supported Medecins Sans Frontieres
complaints about having planes blocked by the Americans
from the Port
au Prince airport.
French Ambassador Araud, ministers' critiques of
U.S. not shown
quickly answered (video here)
that the Americans are doing a good job, that the
airport is small by international standards, and that "we are living in
the US after all."
fact, French Cooperation
Joyandet made a complaint about the blocking of MSF's plane.
And Araud's boss Bernard Kouchner
has said the airport has become an "annex or Washington," according to
France's Ambassador to Haiti Didier Le Bret.
So what is France's position --
these two statements, or Araud's?
From the French Mission's
transcription, of question dubious, of
answer less so:
Inner City Press:
Médecins sans frontières
complained that its planes couldn’t get in to the airport and
blamed the Americans. Does France confirm that?
Amb. Araud: Of course, no.
I think we are
extremely grateful and personally I said it in the Council, extremely
grateful for what the US government is doing, and especially managing
the airport. You know, frustrations are understandable. You have a
small airport, in international terms, which was devastated by the
earthquake and you have hundred of planes which want to land. So it’s
totally normal that there are delays, but I think that the situation
has dramatically improved. Yesterday, you know, it was possible to
have sixty planes landing and today it will be one hundred planes
landing. But the most important will be to work on the port. We have
to rehabilitate the port where we can bring most of the aid.
Once again, we are living
in the US
after all, and we want to express our gratitude for the mobilization
of the US administration and the US people.
the US Mission's transcript:
City Press: Someone said on this idea of strengthening the mandate
that the U.S. had a concern that this would send a message somehow
that the Government of Haiti was too weak. I just want to know
whether you think there is a danger in that type of message being
sent. And also whether the U.S. will be participating in the UN's
Flash Appeal that was announced on Friday, whether the $100 million
announced by President Obama in any way is related to that or should
be counted towards that.
Ambassador Wolff: I'll get back to
you on the later question, I want to make sure I have the right
information for you, exactly how that $100 million fits into that,
into the Flash Appeal. As to the mandate issue, there is no
indication, indeed neither the Secretary-General nor
Undersecretary-General Le Roy mentioned any deficiency in the current
mandate. And so, if the UN is satisfied and the troop contributors
are satisfied and the force commander is satisfied then we should
focus on what we need to do under the current mandate. Of course, as
you indicate, we will need to look and evaluate over the longer term,
as we assess the long term impact of this tragedy on the country and
on the UN's ability to function, and whether the requirements for the
UN have to be adapted in any way. That is something that we do
with any mandate and we will obviously do it with particular
attention in this case.
Watch this site.
Footnote: Since the Security Council has other
matters on its agenda, Inner City Press tried to ask this month's
Council president, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui, if and when he
expects the Council to address Afghanistan. But having been asked if
the Chinese search and rescue team stopped after finding the Chinese
delegation who'd met with Hedi Annabi, Zhang Yesui just
walked away. Who will replace him as China's Ambassador is not yet