A Quiet Lunch
Two Mondays ago, at United Nations headquarters in Geneva, some guests had a quiet lunch together. Apparently encouraged by our ambassador there, Maria Nazareth Farani Azevedo, the luncheon sent a signal to the world. But as these signals go in diplomatic circles, it was a calculated risk to assuage old friends and temper new enemies.
This week, on March 18, President Obama will visit Brazil. As an emerging economic powerhouse, grouped together with China, India , and Russia, Brazil’s presence among influence peddlers is increasing. Economically, militarily, and politically. It’s strategic importance is being recalculated by governments everywhere. These shifting winds were captured in an editorial a few days ago in one of Brazil’s leading newspapers: "The government of President Dilma Rousseff no longer advertises in word alone that it's disassociating itself from Lula's complacency: It is confronting atrocities committed by despotic regimes with which Brazil is aligned in a clumsy attempt to parade its anti-Americanism around the world."
The lunch conversation turned to a new beginning. That the luncheon even occurred was unprecedented. In Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad probably felt sick to his stomach. He probably thought of his friend in Libya. Muammar Qaddafi, were he not so preoccupied with preserving his dictatorship in the current uprising, might have had some advice to give the Iranian president. Perhaps something like “power isn’t what it used to be.”
Today in Tokyo, being on the precipice of nuclear meltdown is terrifying the people of the world. As a result, in Washington DC politicians are feeling more heat for failed attempts to prevent nuclear proliferation in nations like North Korea. In Jerusalem, the military options are being put through more preparatory exercises to stop Iran from getting the bomb.
I imagine she looked in the eyes of her luncheon host. Soft spoken but with an irrefutable force, she thanked the ambassador for his “support.” The translators were busy keeping the cadence of the conversation. Your country “needs to support us when there are massacres” she is quoted as saying.Continued on the next page