Barack Obama will make his second address as president to the opening of the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, and engage in the customary ceremonies, social events, and consultations with other heads of government. Twenty months into the tenure of our most multilateral president, what has he accomplished at the U.N.? The short answer: not much.
As with so much of the Obama administration, this U.N. thing isn’t turning out like it was supposed to. Initially, of course, the anticipation in New York was little short of euphoric. The General Assembly’s president, Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, a Marxist priest from Nicaragua, opined: “I didn’t think I would live to see the day when you had such a really reasonable and constructive attitude on the part of [America’s] leadership.” Anticipating the arrival of Susan Rice as Obama’s U.N. ambassador, former deputy secretary general Mark Malloch-Brown said in February 2009: “I detect there is huge excitement about Susan’s arrival, and you know some of the most difficult countries are quite willing to lie on their backs and have their tummies tickled.”