Writing in the National Review Online, Mario Loyala suggests that South Korea’s policy toward the North means that the new Secretary General will be an agent of Chinese interests at the UN. His argument is basically this: because Beijing and Seoul have strategies for confronting North Korea that are more similar to each other than to America’s own strategy for dealing with the regime, South Korea’s foreign minister-turned-next Secretary General will stand up for Chinese interests as a whole at the UN. This is a quite a sweeping assertion, particularly as it is based on an extrapolation from precisely one circumstance in which the foreign policy interests of these two countries temporarily align.For example, Loyala seems to think that South Korea’s policy toward the North will somehow affect how the new Secretary General approaches humanitarian intervention in places like Darfur.
“Another Kofi Anna [sic] tradition that his successor is unlikely to uphold is his readiness to discard the U.N. Charter’s cardinal principle of non-intervention ‘in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.’ How Ban handles the Darfur situation will be a sign of things to come. In a misguided search for energy security, China has been militarily and financially supporting unsavory regimes in oil-rich countries like Sudan, where the political risk is prohibitive to private commercial investment. Accordingly, in its Security Council votes, China has proved among the strongest opponents of humanitarian intervention in situations like Darfur. Indeed, on the basis of ‘non-intervention,’ China itself resists calls for human rights reform. It is hard to imagine that Ban will break with his long-standing support for China on these issues. The U.N.’s recent success in the field of humanitarian intervention – however limited – is likely to be an early casualty of the Ban secretariat. (emphasis mine)
It is quite a logical leap to assume that South Korean hesitancy toward ‘intervening’ in North Korea means that the next Secretary General will have cold feet in places like Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, and elsewhere. I also find it hard to believe that South Korea’s reluctance for a military option for North Korea is somehow based on a principled notion of state sovereignty which is tightly held by South Korea and its former foreign minister. Loyala’s claim that humanitarian interventions around the world will suffer because of South Korean policy toward the North seems to have been plucked from thin air. It is little more than a scurrilous attack on the incoming Secretary General.