Friday 23 March 2007

Ban Ki-moon ducks for dear life

The natural occurrence of mortars

The UN Secretary General was in no doubt that he was in Baghdad yesterday when during a press conference he was greeted by phenomena that is a natural as the tremors of Tokyo and as constant as night follows day; a mortar bomb attack.

Ever since the photogenic, articulate, decorous and intelligent Sérgio Vieira de Mello was bombed out and killed along with 22 UN staff in August 2003, I have had issues with the UN sitting inside the cauldron of Mesopotamia getting roasted by matters once avoidable.

Unannounced but known

However, it was in some way important for Mr. Ban Ki-moon to be welcomed in this manner, and at least realising that the pejorative "Gringo" Zone with all its boulders and reinforcements can still be under siege.

More interestingly Afghanistan and Iraq probably remain the two countries where important dignitaries cannot pre-announce their arrival, it does not then mean that the insurgents and terrorists cannot read the signs that some Very Irritating Ponce, sorry, I meant VIP, is visiting and in need of a welcoming bang.

No class at all

Then the matter of reflex, class and decorum; I have many times seen instances where in a restaurant or at a banquet table, a chair is being adjusted for the lady to sit down and she reaches down to feel for the chair before sitting down - it betrays a lack of confidence if not class and breeding - no gentleman or servant would allow for the seat not to be where the lady should be sat, those who know just sit, knowing what should be known - tapping my nose.

In Baghdad, one could see Mr. Ban Ki-moon duck with ruffled self-preservation before he recovered his composure, in fact, the way security did not immediately rush to his aid and bundle him out showed just how too ordinary this mortar thing was, that Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki hardly flinched.

Bad briefing and the loss of mien

I would surmise that Mr. Ban Ki-moon was poorly briefed of what to expect in Iraq and hence how to conduct himself in a situation where a typically large firework goes off unexpectedly and diplomacy is losing that stiff-upper lip Englishness where aristocracy continued to dance even when the hall they were in was collapsing upon their heads - at least, finish that piece of music before seeking refuge.

One might just lament that diplomacy has now been pared down to being able to speak many languages with a forked tongue, being able to recognise or exude airs and graces is now only to be seen in the Courts of Louis XVI of old - Alas!.

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