Unvanquished: A U.S. - U.N. Saga

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9780375500503: Unvanquished: A U.S. - U.N. Saga

For years the United States has treated the United Nations as an extension of its own foreign policy, while other member states--especially smaller, less influential countries--have looked to the United Nations to represent their collective interests. This conflict escalated in the fall of 1996, when the United States unilaterally decided to deny Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali a second term.
        In this book Boutros-Ghali argues that U.S. policy toward the United Nations threatens the fragile fabric of the international organization. By selectively consulting the Security Council, the United States has frequently condemned the United Nations to the status of scapegoat in international affairs, notably during peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda. Meanwhile, the United Nations's financial crisis persists as the United States fails to pay its bills while seeking to further increase its already considerable influence within the organization.
        In October 1995 President Clinton lavishly praised Boutros-Ghali for his "outstanding leadership," and thanked him for his "vision." Yet, a mere four months later, the Clinton administration decided that Boutros-Ghali would have to go. What happened in that short time to convince the United States that the secretary-general was now a liability? United States domestic electoral politics were decisive: While campaigning for the primaries, Bob Dole was scoring heavily by repeatedly ridiculing Boutros-Ghali. To neutralize Dole's challenge, Clinton denied the controversial secretary-general a second term, vetoing his reelection in the Security Council despite unanimous support from its other members.
        Boutros-Ghali reveals the dramatic conflict and the personalities involved and considers the future of the United Nations in light of American domination.

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Review:

Boutros Boutros-Ghali offers a frank chronicle of his five years as secretary-general of the United Nations. Although Unvanquished describes ambitious activities in the Middle East, the Balkans, Central America, and elsewhere, its title is clearly a pun (capitalize those first two letters and look at it again), and this is a bitter memoir of hardball diplomacy. The central story line features Boutros-Ghali's confrontations with the United States, with a special focus on how the Clinton administration prevented him from serving a second term as secretary-general--a "rejection of democracy," he calls it, because the United States was the only member of the Security Council to vote against him. The serious trouble began as a result of election-year politics in the United States: "the White House apparently felt a growing need to compete with the GOP over which party was more anti-United Nations." Yet it seems clear that trouble was brewing for much longer. Consider how Boutros-Ghali describes his early impression of Madeleine Albright, who was the U.S. representative to the United Nations before she became secretary of state: "I was puzzled, however, by what seemed her desire to strike attitudes rather than address substantive issues.... She seemed to assume that her mere assertion of a U.S. policy should be sufficient to achieve the support of other nations." Boutros-Ghali is fiercely unapologetic, and his narrative is feisty and engaging. --John J. Miller

From the Back Cover:

"One of the many pleasures of the book is the finely drawn portraits of the diverse characters who participated in the peace talks, including Menachem Begin and Moshe Dayan on the Israeli side, and, most importantly, Sadat himself....This fine book ends with a moving account of Boutros-Ghali learning of Sadat's assassination."
--Foreign Affairs

"Boutros's memoir enriches the record of this very important era in the Middle East. It is, like Boutros himself, lucid, intelligent, self-deprecating and, sometimes, even funny. But we still want to read about Boutros's years at the U.N. We can only hope that he will not make us wait much longer."
--Milton Viorst, The Washington Post Book World

"This is an elegant and forceful narrative by a prolific scholar and diplomat par excellence."
--Robert Hazan, Rocky Mountain News

"An important, impassioned but impartial map to the Sisyphean effort, the bold initiatives and the painstakingly slow process of breaking age-old taboos and paving the way for the fragile, and now threatened, peace between Israel and its neighbors."
--Abbas Milani, San Francisco Chronicle

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Boutros Boutros-Ghali
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