The Foreign Service Journal, September 2006

When you talk about better national education scores, you don’t start with “I support the Department of Education.” Similarly for the United Nations, it starts with politicians who will assert the U.S. is going to engage with the world to tackle climate change, poverty, immigration and terrorism. Stand up for that agenda consistently and allow the U.N. to ride on its coat-tails as a vital means of getting it done. It also means a sustained inside-the-tent diplomacy at the U.N. No more “take it or leave it,” red-line demands thrown in without debate and engagement. Let me close with a few words on Darfur to make my point. A few weeks ago, my kids were on the Mall in Washington, demanding President Bush do more to end the genocide in Darfur (and Pres. Bush wants to do more). I’d bet some of your kids were there, as well. Perhaps you were, too. And yet what can the U.S. do alone in the heart of Africa, in a region the size of France? A place where the government in Khartoum is convinced Washington wants to extend the hegemo- ny it is thought to have asserted in Iraq and Afghanistan? In essence, the U.S. is stymied before it even “pass- es Go.” It needs the U.N. as a multilateral means to address Sudan’s concerns. It needs the U.N. to secure a wide multicultural array of troop and humanitarian partners. It needs the U.N. to provide the internation- al legitimacy that Iraq has again proved is an indis- pensable component to success on the ground. Yet, the U.N. needs its first parent, the U.S., every bit as much if it is to deploy [forces] credibly in one of the world’s nastiest neighbourhoods. Back in Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s day, building a strong, effective United Nations that could play this kind of role was a bipartisan enterprise, with the likes of Arthur Vandenberg and John Foster Dulles joining Democrats to support the new body. Who are their successors in American politics? Who will campaign in 2008 for a new multilateral national security? F O C U S 60 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