UN, Rediscovered

The UN is flawed, but the United States can learn to use it better—as long as we hold reasonable expectations.

Issue: Mar-Apr 2007

AFTER SIX years of tempestuous U.S.-UN relations, the next few months could prove a turning point. The proximate cause is the unusual confluence of four events: the ascension of a new UN secretary-general, Ban Ki Moon; the end of John Bolton's stormy ambassadorship and the nomination of his skilled replacement, Zalmay Khalilzad; and the Democratic takeover in Congress. In many ways personnel is destiny, and the new faces could move the relationship from an era of bitterness, suspicion and isolation to one of sustained, positive engagement and realistic expectations.

But a larger, more impersonal reason also contributes. In Washington, there is a greater sense of sobriety about the limits of America's power and influence to act alone-and more appreciation for strong, effective international institutions.

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