Meek and Weak

23 جون 2011
Mowahid Hussain Shah
Meek and weak is how the world\\\'s top diplomat, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, is perceived.
The docile Ban is up for re-election in October and, with US support, he should clinch it. It doesn\\\'t matter whether he conveys a chronic sense of inadequacy. All that matters is that the UN has become a doormat for big power politics.
Gone are the days when the UN had an activist Secretary General in Dag Hammarskjold (who served from 1953 to 1961) and was killed in September 1961 in a mysterious air crash, while on a peacekeeping mission in strife-torn Congo.
The last effective UN Chief was Kurt Waldheim from Austria. It was during his tenure (1972-1981) that the Palestinian cause gained salience when he invited PLO head Yasser Arafat to address the UN General Assembly at New York on November 13, 1974 (where I was among the few students who had decided to travel by bus from Washington to greet Arafat). For this \\\'indiscretion\\\', Waldheim was not forgiven. Subsequently, his wartime record was dredged up and he was smeared as a Nazi war criminal - leading in 1987, although he was then President of Austria, to his being barred from entry to the United States.
His successors proved meek and weak. Perez de Cuellar from Peru (in office from 1982-1991) watched helplessly when Desert Storm ravaged Iraq in 1991. Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1992-1996), from Egypt, did little to assuage the genocidal massacres in Rwanda and Bosnia. Kofi Annan (1997-2006) from Ghana was ineffective in preventing the Bush administration from launching the invasion and attack on Iraq in 2003 to allegedly uncover phantom weapons of mass destruction, even though he later told the BBC that the action was illegal and contrary to the UN Charter.
Now, Ban Ki-moon has not moved to vitiate the viciousness of the occupation situations in Palestine and Kashmir or to curb vituperative language against Islam in western circles. Ban was a bystander when Israel was openly flouting the Geneva Conventions by mercilessly pounding Gaza during 2008-9.
The UN Secretary General post is hardly a clerical position without weightage. It offers ample space for leadership.
Great leaders have great impact. Even small nations - not at the center of gravity - become a force to be reckoned with through the transformative effect of charismatic leadership. The examples of Yugoslavia under Tito and of Cuba spearheaded by Castro and Guevara come to mind. Conversely, the shattering of post-Tito Yugoslavia is instructive. Today, Syria\\\'s Bashar al-Assad would be well-advised to heed the fate of Romania\\\'s Nicolae Ceausescu on Christmas 1989.
There is a way to seize the day. It is to rectify the imbalance in global leadership. A collective pressure can be generated through civil society across the Muslim World so that a Muslim country - preferably Indonesia - be inducted into a veto-carrying permanent seat of an expanded UN Security Council.
It is simply unacceptable that the 1.5 billion strong Muslim World does not matter where it must matter.