Saturday, May 22, 2004

Updated May 22, 2004 at 3:20 pm

Michael Sneed/Rich Williamson/John Negroponte/The War/George Will/Winston Churchill/Chirac/Judy Baar Topinka

Who is Rich Williamson and will he replace U. N. Ambassador John Negroponte? And, much, much more in this blog entry.

[Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of "Public Affairs," can be reached at]

Michael Sneed, in her Chicago Sun-Times column on May 9, 2004, wrote that Rich Williamson:

(1) is on the short list to become our nation's next U. N. Ambassador.

(2) is considered one of the best and brightest [Sounds like a Kennedy, right? Rich does live near Chris Kennedy] administration officials at the U. N.

(3) has been a loyal deputy to U. N. Ambassador John Negroponte.

and (4), and that Bush is worried about Illinois in the upcoming presidential election, and it wouldn't hurt to have a son of Illinois get such a top job.

In terms of accuracy, how did Sneed do? Well, not so well, as they say on NPR's Saturday morning game shows.

Item 1 is correct. Item 2 is half correct. Item 3 is half correct and item 4 is kind of silly.

On the other hand, two out of four is a pretty good batting average for Sneed, especially when it comes to politics and not aging the ageless.

First, former Ambassador Williamson is on the short list to return to the UN as an ambassador. Sneed did nail this one. When I asked Rich last night, as he was walking into an Illinois GOP fundraiser at the Ritz whether he was going to return to the U. N. to replace Amb. Negroponte, Rich responded, diplomatically, "that is not my decision." My guess is that the list is short, but not yet a list of one. I would also guess that Rich would take the position, if offered, but it is not an easy decision- the job might be for only 6 months, or so, and the move could be quite disruptive to his family and his legal career. On the other hand, I hear the food and treats are usually better at the UN gatherings than the fare offered up by Illinois GOP Chairman Judy Baar Topinka or Mayer Brown Rowe and Maw, even when the Funder is at the Ritz.

Second, Rich is probably considered one of the best and brightest of the pols who have held significant positions at the UN. Sneed did get this part of item 2 correct. However, Sneed implies that Rich Williamson is now at the UN. But when Rich taped my show, "Public Affairs," last fall, he had left his post at the UN at least a few months earlier, and returned to the law firm where he had previously been a partner, the [1307 attorney, 14 office-- including 6 foreign offices] major league(Chicago based--509 attorneys in the Loop) law firm of Mayer Brown Rowe and Maw. So, Sneed is about a year behind the times on that point. And, Sneed (Winnetka) and Williamson (Kenilworth) are almost neighbors-unless Sneed has moved out of my neighborhood without telling me. And, of course, if Sneed has cable, she would have had three, count them, three opportunities to watch my show with Rich Williamson. In Winnetka (and in 9 other Chicago North Shore suburbs) "Public Affairs," airs M, W, and F at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Ch. 19. Perhaps Sneed should become a Berkowitz watcher, in addition to being an Antonio, Ponce and Oprah watcher.

Third, although former Amb. Williamson was loyal to Amb. Negroponte(and probably vice versa), Rich told me that there are five ambassadors to the UN from the US, and that they are equals. So, I don't think Rich was a deputy to Negroponte, as Sneed states. Rich's formal title was U. S. Ambassador and Alternate U. S. Representative to the UN for special Political Affairs. On the other hand, some of the US ambassadors to the UN appear to be "more equal" than others, and Negroponte, perhaps because he was assigned to spend most, if not all, of his time on Iraq (as he will do as the new Ambassador to Iraq) was the "most equal," of the five. But, still, I can only give Sneed half credit on this item.

Fourth, having lost Illinois to Gore in 2000 by 12 points, I am sure Bush is "worried about Illinois," if he gives it any thought at all-- but Sneed's suggestion that appointing Rich Williamson as an Ambassador to the UN will do anything to help Bush win Illinois is, well-- peculiar, at best. Sorry, Michael, no points on this item.

Okay, boys and girls, as a reward to you for reading through the above trivia about a Trevian, I have included, below, some serious stuff about Iraq, as well as a cute story from George Will via Rich Williamson, all from the "Public Affairs," vault, if I can steal a line from Chicago Tonight.
Rich Williamson: ...France wants to create a world where they are the second pole; unfortunately [for France?] their economic, military and cultural reach, their might, their strength don't sustain that.

Jeff Berkowitz: Shouldn't they [the French] be removed from the Security Council, as a permanent member of the Security Council?

Rich Williamson: Well, I think what they [the French] have done-- is they have helped de-legitimize their position on the Security Council. Now, I don't know whether they should be taken off the Security Council, or not. They were added at the end in 1945, at the San Francisco conference. There were initially only four permanent members- France was let on in the end. My friend, George Will, had the comment that, at the time, Winston Churchill said France should be added to help them psychologically, and George Will said, after 50 years of psychoanalysis, that's enough...he [Jacques Chirac] ended up, with Germany and France being more isolated, he [Chirac] will have to live with the ramifications...
Berkowitz: It appears that the Democratic Presidential [primary] candidates would all say that there was insufficient use of diplomacy [by the US before the Iraq War]; they would say that Bush insulted Germany and France and therefore they and other countries didn't join [the Coalition of the Willing], and your response would be?

Williamson: We were seriously disappointed we couldn't get an 18th resolution on Iraq that would have allowed a greater participation, but it is inaccurate to say we didn't have a broad coalition...the war was enormously successful...
Rich Williamson, former Ambassador to the United Nations, interviewed on "Public Affairs." The program was recorded on October 2, 2003 and was cablecast in October, 2003 through-out the City of Chicago(Mondays, 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21) and in 34 Chicago Northshore and Northwest suburbs on Comcast Cable Ch. 19 or Ch. 35 at various times, depending on the location of the suburb.