The problem with Boutros-Ghali's criticism, says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell, is less with its content than its provenance. "Boutros-Ghali was so deeply flawed as a secretary general that his own staff despised him," says Dowell. "His imperiousness had alienated them to the point that they were constantly leaking damaging information to the media." Boutros-Ghali's attack, though, points to a shift in the Clinton administration away from its initial emphasis on building consensus in multilateral forums such as the U.N. "Instead of trying to win international support for U.S. policy, Washington began to simply announce it on a take-it-or-leave-it basis," says Dowell. "That has also led to a problem where the State Department tends to regard the U.N. secretary general as simply another tool to implement U.S. policy." To wit, Albright spokesman James Rubin's comment on Boutros-Ghali's charges: "It was always unfortunate that Mr. Boutros-Ghali did not have the skills to successfully manage the most important relationship for any secretary general, which is smooth cooperation with the United States." U.N. insiders would be forgiven for finding that response a tad arrogant from a country that hasn't paid membership dues since the Reagan presidency. Good thing Boutros-Ghali doesn't have many friends.
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. The latest public critic of increasingly under-fire Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is none other than that most unloved of modern-day diplomats -- former U.N. secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali. According to the New York Times, in his new book, "Unvanquished: A U.S.-U.N. Saga," the Egyptian envoy savages Albright's diplomatic abilities. "She seemed to assume," he wrote, "that her mere assertion of a U.S. policy should be sufficient to achieve the support of other nations," and tended to lecture foreign leaders rather than engage in the "difficult diplomatic work of persuading [them] to go along with the positions of her government."