Friday, January 07, 2005
The High Priest Vulture Elite
"Warning to Potential Readers of this Posting: The Chief Diplomad is just back from the office. It's 4 am. Mosquitoes are everywhere. The internet is painfully slow. Your "friendly" Chief Diplomad's plan to move on to another set of duties, for now, has fallen by the roadside. He must remain in the current job. The local Guardian correspondent has called the Embassy; he is doing a negative story on the US relief effort based on "information" provided by the UN at a press conference. The Diplomad is in a dark, dark mood. So, of course, just as anyone else would do in such circumstances, The Diplomad writes about the UN. End of Warning.
Many years ago, as we prepared our return to a tough posting in the Far Abroad after leave in the States, our son asked, "Do we have to go back to the 'turd' world?" That phrase, "redolent" with the wisdom possessed only by children, has stayed with me over these passing years. My son was right about the 'turd' world. What tips you off that you have arrived in a poor country, a truly, genuinely dirt-poor corner of the Far Abroad, is the smell. As you leave the airport, you notice a special "exotic" odor of rotting vegetation, garbage, and feces combined with a slight whiff of smoke. Once you're there a bit, you no longer notice. When you leave and come back, it slams you all over again. The kid was right: we had been and still do live in the "Turd World."
This Embassy has been running 24/7 since the December 26 earthquake and tsunami. Along with my colleagues, I've spent the past several days dealing non-stop with various aspects of the relief effort in this tsunami-affected country. That work, unfortunately, has brought ever-increasing contact with the growing UN presence in this capital; in fact, we've found that to avoid running into the UN, we must go out to where the quake and tsunami actually hit. As we come up on two weeks since the disaster struck, the UN is still not to be seen where it counts -- except when holding well-staged press events. Ah, yes, but the luxury hotels are full of UN assessment teams and visiting big shots from New York, Geneva, and Vienna. The city sees a steady procession of UN Mercedes sedans and top-of-the-line SUV's -- a fully decked out Toyota Landcruiser is the UN vehicle of choice; it doesn't seem that concerns about "global warming" and preserving your tax dollars run too deep among the UNocrats.
Sitting VERY late for two consecutive nights in interminable meetings with UN reps, hearing them go on about "taking the lead coordination role," pledges, and the impending arrival of this or that UN big shot or assessment/coordination team, for the millionth time I realized that if not for Australia and America almost nobody in the tsunami-affected areas would have survived more than a few days. If we had waited for the UNocrats to get their act coordinated, the already massive death toll would have become astronomical. But, fortunately, thanks to "retrograde racist war-mongers " such as John Howard and George W. Bush, as we sat in air conditioned meeting rooms with these UNocrats, young Australians and Americans were at that moment "coordinating" without the UN and saving the lives of tens-of-thousands of people.
Seeing these UNocrats perched at the table, whispering to each other, back-slapping, shaking hands, they seemed like a periodic reunion of old cynical Mafia chieftains or mercenaries who run into each other in different hot spots, as they move from one slaughter to another, "How are you? Haven't seen you since Bosnia . . .." As the hours wore on, however, and I nervously doodled in my note pad, shifted in my chair, looked at my watch, and thought about all the real work I had to do that evening, I decided that, no, labeling them mafiosos or mercenaries was much too kind. They seemed more to be the progeny resulting from a mating between a mad oracle and a giant carrion-eater. They were akin to some sort of ancient mythical Greco-Roman-Aztec-Wes Craven-Egyptian-bird-god that demands constant sacrifice and feeding, and speaks in riddles which only it can solve. Yes, I decided, the UNocrats are great hideous vultures, roused from their caves in the European Alps and in the cement canyons and peaks of Manhattan by the stench of death. They leisurely take flight toward that odor; circle, and then swoop down, screeching UNintelligble nonsense. They arrive and immediately force others, e.g., the American taxpayer, to build them new exclusive nests in the midst of poverty, and make themselves fat on the flesh of the dead. My friends, allow The Diplomad to present to you The High Priest Vulture Elite (HPVE).
These genuinely repulsive, arrogant creatures survive only because the world's rich countries, the non-Turd World, allow them, too. We in the First World find it politically impossible to reveal their pronouncements as the cant they are. For many in Europe and among the New York Times crowd, helping maintain these mad vultures substitutes for genuine action, "The UN is on the job!" In addition, for many senior bureaucrats and minor politicians, there is always the hope that if they play the game right, they, too, can join the High Priest Vulture Elite: We see the ranks of the HPVE full of Scandinavians and leftist Americans, and the occasional pompous Euro-Brazilian, all of whom parlayed mediocre domestic careers of lip-biting humanitarian symbolism into well-paying tax-free sinecures in the HPVE.
Who are the victims? Well, of course, the tax payers of the First World come immediately to mind. But really, after all, for us it's just money. Money comes and goes. The big victims of the HPVE are the world's poor countries who pay with the lives of their children; who get diverted by HPVE mumbo jumbo and its promises of aid and technical assistance from taking actions to develop their own countries and fend off the HPVE.
This is not complete, but the hour is late (please forgive spelling/grammatical errors.) Let me post this now. The Diplomad will get some sleep, then -- as time allows --continue examining the HPVE in subsequent postings, in particular, how the Third World appears gradually to be waking up to the fact that the HPVE exists only to exist."