There is an excellent coffee shop in the basement of the United Nations building in New York. The espresso is served bitter and strong, Italian style. Sandwiches can be bought on hard French baguettes, and the pastries are always fresh. Whenever a meeting lets out in one of the conference rooms adjacent to the shop, diplomats make a beeline to the cash registers. Others light cigarettes: Though the United Nations is in Manhattan, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-smoking crusade has not yet penetrated the complex, which sits on international land; so, beneath conspicuous no-smoking signs, diplomats routinely light up, creating a hazy plume that gives the Vienna Café a decidedly European feel.
At first glance, UN Security Council Resolution 1595 reads like any other bland legal document. But the resolution, which passed unanimously on April 7, is anything but ordinary. Two months earlier, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, along with 22 others, was killed in a car bombing. Hariri was a longtime opponent of Syria's ambitions to make Lebanon into a proxy state, and suspicion concerning his death immediately fell on the Syrian security services. So, for the first time in UN history, a Security Council resolution authorized a special investigator to probe the circumstances of what appeared to be the state-sponsored assassination of a foreign rival.
Joseph Kony is a lot of things to a lot of people. To his followers in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), he is God-like, with mystical powers that render him immortal. To the president of Uganda, he is a murderous gadfly who has been terrorizing the population of the northern provinces for nearly two decades. To the kidnapped children that constitute the rank and file of his army, he is a serial rapist and murderer. And to the U.S. State Department, he is the leader of a terrorist group.
Under normal circumstances, the stalled negotiations over the most significant package of United Nations reforms in 60 years would be front-page news. But as public and media attention is focused on John Roberts, William Rehnquist, and Hurricane Katrina, it is easy to forget that next week the United States will play host to the largest gathering of world leaders in history.
In June, the Web site that served as the public clearinghouse of news and analysis on John Bolton's fledgling United Nations nomination, Steve Clemons' blog www.theWashingtonNote.com, reprinted a satiric cartoon depicting Bolton's first day at the UN. In the drawing, the political cartoonist Jonah Lobe portrayed a mustachioed Bolton clinging to the underside of a large statue of a .45-caliber revolver with its barrel tied in a knot. As visitors to the UN building in New York know, the statue stands at UN Plaza at Turtle Bay as a peace symbol.