THE SLIPPERY EEL SHOWS HIS SLIDE. During his career as South Korea�s foreign minister, Ban Ki-moon earned a reputation among the Korean press corps for masterfully evading hard-hitting questions. For this, he gained the nickname �slippery eel,� which I�m told is more affectionate than critical.
During Ban�s speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies yesterday, those present saw precisely how he earned that diminutive.
From his perch in the front row, ABC�s Sam Donaldson asked a genuinely tough question about the circumstances under which Ban could sanction pre-emptive military strikes. But rather than answering the question head-on, Ban appeared to be star-struck and brought the room to full-bellied laughter. �Though I have seen quite many times of you,� Ban said with an ear-to-ear grin in almost perfect English. �This is first time for me to engage in direct dialogue. It�s my great pleasure to meet you in person like this.� And with that, Ban skirted the question.
In all seriousness though, since Ban became Secretary General of the United Nations 16 days ago many on the right -- namely AEI Senior Fellow John Bolton and Brett Schaffer of the Heritage Foundation -- have argued that Ban should be �more Secretary than General.� That is, more of a company CEO than a leader who motivates people to confront humanitarian crises around the world. But for Bolton, Schaffer, and others who would prefer a supine United Nations organization, this is just wishful thinking. Kofi Annan forever changed how people perceive of the role of the Secretary General. The fact that Sam Donaldson bothered to ask Ban about the doctrine of preemption (or that Ban�s first minor dust-up came when the press corps asked for his views on capital punishment) shows that, like it or not, people around the world simply expect Ban to be a global champion for human rights and rule of law.
--Mark Leon Goldberg