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Ed Webb

Settling for Second Best: In Global Institutions, Mediocrity Is the Way to the Top - SP... - 0 views

  • Barroso no longer has any significant authority -- if, indeed, he ever had any. Why then did EU leaders want this man in the first place, and why do they mock him today, allowing him to flounder, as if his position were merely an afterthought and not a prominent office within the EU, a major economic power with aspirations to be a major political power? The reason is obvious, says a regent from southeastern Europe: The EU is holding on to the man, who is known to be weak, for reasons of convenience, and because the search for an alternative could possibly lead to greater conflicts.

    In truth, politicians like Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy appreciate the downhill gradient between them and the European Commission president. If he were a peer, a man like Frenchman Jacques Delors, who led the Commission from 1985 to 1995 with a mixture of ambition and panache and was justifiably dubbed "Mr. Europe," the EU wouldn't be the kind of organization that large countries can control for their own benefit.

  • It is no comfort that other large organizations that seek to play a role in global politics are taking the same approach. The imbalance between standards and leadership is currently the most glaring at the United Nations, where Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a South Korean, is more of an administrator than a leader. NATO and, similarly, the World Bank, also applied the criterion of inconspicuousness in choosing its current secretary general.
  • The leap from domestic politics to the international level is often enormous, and in many cases the newly elected or appointed chief executives are suddenly confronted with the task of leading giant bureaucracies with an independent streak. Usually, it quickly becomes apparent whether they will live up to the challenge, and will either develop the ambition to take control or submit to the wishes of the larger countries.
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