The Foreign Service Journal, September 2006

56 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 0 6 hank you for allowing me to speak to you today on power and global leadership. I often get asked to talk about leadership, but rarely about power. I wonder why. With that thought as my starting point, I am going to give what might be regarded as a rather un-U.N. speech. Some of the themes — that the United Nations is mis- understood and does much more than its critics allow — are probably not surprising. But my underlying message, which is a warning about the serious consequences of a decades-long tendency by U.S. administrations of both parties to engage only fitfully with the U.N., is not one a sitting United Nations official would normally make to an audience like this. But I feel it is a message that urgently needs to be aired. And as someone who has spent most of his adult life in this country, only a part of it at the U.N., I hope you will take it in the spirit in which it is meant: as a sincere and constructive critique of U.S. policy toward the U.N. by a friend and admirer. Because the fact is that the pre- vailing practice of seeking to use the U.N. almost by stealth as a diplomatic tool, while failing to stand up for it against its domestic critics, is simply not sustainable. You will lose the U.N., one way or another. Founders’ Vision Multilateral compromise has always been difficult to justify in the American political debate: [it has] too many speeches, too many constraints, too few results. Yet it was not meant to be so. The all-moral-idealism-no-power institution was the League of Nations. The U.N. was explicitly designed — through U.S. leadership and the ultimate coalition of the willing, its World War II allies — as a very different creature, an antidote to the League’s failure. At the U.N.’s core was to be an enforceable concept of collec- tive security protected by the victors of that war, com- bined with much more practical efforts to promote global values such as human rights and democracy. Underpinning this new approach was a judgment that no president since [Harry] Truman has felt able to repeat: that for the world’s one superpower — arguably more super in 1946 than 2006 —managing global secu- rity and development issues through the network of a United Nations was worth the effort. Yes, it meant the give-and-take of multilateral bargaining, but any dilu- tion of American positions was more than made up for by the added clout of action that enjoyed global support. F O C U S O N U.N. R E F O R M A S INCERE C RITIQUE OF A MERICA ’ S U.N. P OLICY T HE DECADES - LONG TENDENCY BY ADMINISTRATIONS OF BOTH PARTIES TO ENGAGE ONLY FITFULLY WITH THE U.N. IS HAVING SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES . B Y M ARK M ALLOCH B ROWN T United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown delivered this address on June 6 in New York City to the annual conference of The Security and Peace Initiative, “Power and Super-Power: Global Leadership in the Twenty-First Century.” The confer- ence was jointly sponsored by The Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress.