The United Nations -- 60 years old

And Blogger Zombie has photographs and trenchant commentary from the San Francisco celebration:

The United Nations 60th Anniversary Celebration in San Francisco on June 25, 2005
A zombietime exclusive on-site report

On June 26, 1945, The United Nations was founded in San Francisco, when delegates from around the world formally signed the U.N. Charter. Ever since then, the city of San Francisco has hosted 10-year U.N. anniversary celebrations in years that end in "5." I decided to attend this year's shindig, celebrating the U.N.'s 60th birthday.

In most decades, the U.N. birthdays have been major events, with presidents and world leaders showing up to mark the day. Truman was there in 1945; Eisenhower made an appearance in '55; Johnson showed up in '65; and Clinton in '95. (In 1985 Reagan sent Secretary of State George Shultz. 1975 was the exception, when the event was intentionally low-key and President Ford skipped the party entirely.)

So, this year, the event's organizers (the United Nations Association, or UNA) invited President Bush, Secretary of State Rice and many other leading national and international public figures, hoping to create a blockbuster celebration.

Only this time around, something went wrong. The White House seemed to ignore the invitation, and the head of the UNA started to gripe to the press. A weekend of celebrations and speeches was scheduled for June 25th and 26th, and soon it become quite clear that no one of significance was going to show up.

Much to the dismay of the organizers, the nonattendance of any real political celebrities became itself the one newsworthy aspect of the event.
The absence of the world's key players from the recent United Nations 60th anniversary in San Fransisco surprised even the U.N. members themselves. The disinterest came as a stark reminder that the world body is facing a crisis and is in desperate need of reform. There was no Blair, Bush, Chirac or Putin and not even the top UN official, Secretary-General Kofi Annan, bothered to front up. Such indifference has to be an indication of the current lack of enthusiasm of the world's major players for the organization that is theoretically supposed to monitor and guide the course of world affairs. Instead, the various events were attended by a crew of political "has-beens" and second-rank officials.

Considering President Bush's well-known distrust of the U.N., it could be expected that he'd give the anniversary a pass. More painful was the snub from Kofi Annan, who also stayed away and sent an underling in his stead.

But the press missed the biggest insult of them all. Both California Senators -- Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer -- as well as Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, had all been invited, and were all in San Francisco on June 25th (the opening day of the celebration), but they all skipped the U.N. festivities and instead spent the day at a private party held by filmmaker George Lucas just two miles away at the Presidio. (The SF Chronicle's coverage of the Lucas event mentions them by title only, but the Chronicle did provide a photo of Boxer laughing it up with Lucas.)

That's gotta hurt. Especially since these three leading Democrats have been strong pro-U.N. voices in Congress. I guess partying with George Lucas is more important than world peace.

Well darn our irrelevance, full speed ahead -- Zombie has some photos that are not to be missed. Here is one sample:

UN60-high-tea.jpg
During a break for "High Tea," audience members mingled with actors hired for the occasion to dress as if it was 1945. Which was quite telling, actually; just as the modern-day anti-war protesters wish it was 1968 all over again and want to recreate the ambience of that year, U.N.-boosters wish it was 1945 all over again and want to recreate the feeling of that year. This was their one opportunity to turn back the clock, not just fashion-wise but philosophically as well.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on July 10, 2005 11:32 PM.

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