15 October 2005

Leave it to the "farcical team" to turn any worthy cause into jobs for the boys. Now that they had almost run the U.N. into the ground, until they were almost forcibly buzzed off, they turned their attention to world civilizations. They couldn't manage the U.N.; now they want to manage the whole world.

First they tried using "Dialogue Among Cultures," a brainchild of former Iranian President Mohammed Khatemi who is a very highly regarded scholar and author of noted articles in theological thought. Using him -- and the noble cause -- as a cover, they contacted eager heads of state to obtain contributions and hold seminars. Even someone like Prince Hassan of Jordan, one of the world's leading advocates of cultural exchange, was unsuspecting -- he was available to lend support. Eventually the venture ran out of steam, particularly as Sayed Khatemi was no more in office to lend a practically helpful hand.

Then earlier this year, as Iqbal Riza, Chef de Cabinet of Secretary General Kofi Annan, was ousted in a prelude to his THIRD INVESTIGATION by the U.N. (1980/81, 1987/89, 2004/5), he took on the Spiritual approach. Taking advantage of a worthy initiative by Spain and Turkey, the prominent Shredder par excellence started operating from an official office in U.N. Plaza. He also started working on his image, assisted by his long time "hit team" partner. Media representatives, like staff representatives, were approached in a drive to promote a humble harmless spiritualist intent only on bridging gaps -- a far cry from the arrogant authoritarian intent on evading staff rules. His approach reminded some who came from formerly colonized countries of "Legion Etrenger" operatives who, despite their record, would accost intellectuals from Algeria, Lebanon, Tunis and Morocco, while telling them in French Potoi: "Moi civilizer vous." Neither the journalists were overwhelmed by the charm offensive, nor were the staff, who in early October openly questioned the Secretary General's decision to maintain Riza as part of his office. But then, Mr. Annan cannot but keep Riza around to maintain his immunity. That has nothing to do with loyalty. More loyal aides, over long and faithful years, were swiftly dumped when necessary. You see, Riza has a very convenient "lapsus memorium" from Rwanda, Sebrenica, Samalia et al through Food-for-Oil. Whatever would keep his mind focused elsewhere (while maintaining his immunity) would be fine.

Meanwhile, the "neo-sophist" Riza is not only sure of running the new venture, he is also tempting other -- decent, unsuspecting individuals -- with potential jobs once the "alliance" takes shape. He recently prompted an official note to member states through their missions in New York to offer contributions to the cause. As a prelude, an official statement was issued attributed to the Secretary General. Reflecting the old canny style, it said that the Secretary General is pleased to announce the composition of the High-level Group for the Alliance of Civilizations. The members have been identified through extensive consultations with specialists in the field of inter-civilization and inter-cultural relations. A few more members may be included later. The Group is expected to hold its first meeting in late November 2005. It will be serviced by the Alliance secretariat, which is currently in the process of being established. The terms of reference, and the list of 18 members of the group, will be made available.

Until the list of distinguished civilizationistas is announced, there is a farcical proposal that it should reflect those from varied cultures whose names were linked with the Annan/Riza era. These would include, in addition to Riza "luimeme," Dileep Nair (for Soul-Searching), Benon Sevan (Food-for-Thought), Ruud Lubbers (Touching your Roots), Yakovlev (Cultural Exchange), Jean-Bernard Merimee (Le Francophone), Jose Maria Figueres (Spiritual Technology), Maurice Strong (Hidden Inspiration) with Kojo Annan as roving promoter. And, as it says in the official note, a few more members may be included later.