There's one reason to be heartened that the General Assembly endorsed by acclamation South Korea Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon to be the eighth secretary-general in the United Nations' 60-year history: It means that, as of Jan. 1, Kofi Annan no longer will be.
Annan has been a disaster during his two five-year terms as the U.N.'s top bureaucrat - an apologist and possible profiteer for corruption within the agency and an excuse-maker for repressive dictatorships around the world. There's just no way Ban could be worse than Annan.
But then, he may not be much better either.
In National Review Online, Mario Loyola of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a former Department of Defense consultant, writes that on the surface the choice of Ban should be good news for the United States; after all, South Korea is a treaty ally of ours.
Yet the alliance has become increasingly uneasy in recent years, with South Korea coming more and more under the sway of China. Regarding North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons in defiance of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and U.N. resolutions, South Korea has been following the "soft line" of communist China instead of the harsh sanctions urged by the United States and Japan.
Although U.S. Ambassador John Bolton publicly applauded the choice of Ban as "the right person to lead the United Nations at this decisive movement in its history," Loyola notes that privately Bolton was troubled that none of the other six candidates for the post - including two favored by the United States - were seriously considered. Yet the candidate favored by China received unanimous approval. Political observers perceive this as China's growing clout on the world stage while U.S. clout wanes.
But even if some of the reservations about Ban turn out to be baseless and he takes on statesmanlike qualities, he's still inheriting a piece of international junk. The United Nations is like a car with no engine or tires.
When it comes to dealing with any global crisis - be it Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Afghansitan or Darfur - the agency goes nowhere and accomplishes little. Ban certainly won't be able to fix that if he follows China's see-no-evil, hear-no-evil and do-no-evil lead.