UPDATE: Dan McLaughlin writes: "Is there any way to get Havel to come out of retirement to succeed Kofi Annan as head of the UN, please? I mean, if ever there were a guy with the guts and moral clarity to insist that the UN live up to its ideals, it's Havel."
ANOTHER UPDATE: The more I think about it, the more I like the Havel-for-S.G. idea. Here's something Havel wrote recently in the Miami Herald:
Let's not allow ourselves to be manipulated into believing that attempts to change the established order and objective laws do not make sense. Let's try to build a global civil society that insist that politics is not just a technology of power, but must have a moral dimension.
At the same time, politicians in democratic countries need to think seriously about reforms of international institutions to make them capable of real global governance. We could start, for example, with the United Nations, which, in its current form, is a relic of the situation shortly after World War II. It does not reflect the influence of some new regional powers, while immorally equating countries whose representatives are democratically elected and those whose representatives speak only for themselves or their juntas, at best.
We Europeans have one specific task. Industrial civilization, which now spans the whole world, originated in Europe. All of its miracles, as well as its terrifying contradictions, can be explained as consequences of an ethos that is initially European. Therefore, unifying Europe should set an example for the rest of the world regarding how to face the various dangers and horrors that are engulfing us today.
Indeed, such a task, which is closely tied to the success of European integration, would be an authentic fulfillment of the European sense of global responsibility. And it would be a much-better strategy than cheaply blaming America for the contemporary world's various problems.
In retrospect, John Kerry could have picked off hundreds of thousands of votes—maybe in Ohio!—from lukewarm Bush supporters if he'd demanded, perhaps at his Boston convention, that Kofi Annan resign as secretary general of the United Nations. It's not a hard case to make, given the corruption Annan has shoved under the Persian rug in his well-appointed digs, but Kerry, afraid of alienating the world community, kept mum. So did Bush, for that matter, but he already had the upper hand on foreign policy. A smart Kerry adviser would've counseled the candidate to angrily tell his far-left supporters to leave the "No Blood for Oil!" posters at home and replace them with the words "No Food for Oil."
The Wall Street Journal's Claudia Rosett has been dogged on this issue, calling the scandal (Nov. 17) "the biggest fraud in the history of humanitarian relief," and it's only now that attention is being paid to the hearings led by GOP Sen. Norm Coleman and Rep. Henry Hyde, that will likely, even at a glacial pace, cause Annan to retire in disgrace before his term is up. His departure can't come too soon: As the Chicago Tribune editorialized on Nov. 21, Annan was quick to call the U.S. invasion of Iraq "illegal," and condemn the assault on Fallujah, but on the subject of Saddam Hussein funneling billions of dollars intended for humanitarian aid but instead diverted to his military and construction of palaces, the U.N. leader, who increasingly makes Al Sharpton look virtuous, looked the other way.
Kofi out, Havel in. It's an idea whose time has come.