Page 61 - FSJ_11_2012

This is a SEO version of FSJ_11_2012. Click here to view full version

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
NOVEMBER 2012
61
General Assembly. But since his confrmation was still pending
in the Senate, his status was still unofcial. As a result, he was
assigned to the periphery of the U.S. delegation in the General
Assembly hall for the session.
Henry Gets Nixed
Kissinger ended up seated next to one of the congressmen
in the delegation, the Honorable Robert Nix of Pennsylva-
nia. An elderly African-American gentleman and a longtime
member of the House, Representative Nix was chairman of the
Africa Subcommittee.
Te United States delegation was seated alphabetically right
next to the folks from Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), and
their sign was not far from Nix’s elbow. Kissinger leaned over
to Nix as the assembly was coming to order and inquired in a
friendly fashion: “How are things going in your country?”
Highly insulted, Rep. Nix walked out and could not be found
later for the delegation photograph or to accept Kissinger’s
apology. I had not been invited to the opening session and was
in my ofce when frantic calls began coming in from the State
Department. After a long search, I fnally found Nix at the fancy
Beekman Towers apartment the U.S. mission had rented for
him.
“Tell ’em to go to hell,” he growled. Te much-delayed photo
op went on without him. Although he continued to occupy the
Beekman apartment from time to time and take the New York
per diem, Nix never showed at another U.N. meeting or social
function for the entire four months.
Social Lubricants to the Rescue
Te plus side of Nix’s absence was his willingness to let me
draw upon his $800 representation allowance. Bradford Morse,
a former Massachusetts congressman who then headed the
United Nations Development Program, proposed that the U.S.
congressional contingent host an event for parliamentarians in
the various delegations. John Buchanan, a Republican con-
gressman from Alabama who was taking his responsibilities
seriously as a delegate, was willing, so we arranged a catered
lunch in one of the U.N. headquarters dining rooms.
Tere was just one hitch: alcohol. Buchanan was a Baptist
minister and, at least theoretically, a teetotaler. But once I
pointed out that a glass of wine was traditional and appropriate
for toasts and the like at international gatherings, he agreed to
its being served, albeit a bit reluctantly.
Te response to our invitation was huge. It seemed that
virtually every country in the world had at least one parlia-
mentarian delegate, at least one delegate who had once been
a parliamentarian, or—perhaps my imagination—people who
would like to be thought of as parliamentarians and thereby
nab a free lunch.
Te banquet table seemed to stretch the length of the build-
ing. “It will take a while to prepare meals for this many people.
Tere will be a short delay until we can serve,” the maitre d’
whispered to me. “Can we serve some cocktails before lunch?”
I went to Buchanan with the problem, and he promptly
tossed the decision back to me. Faced with managing a thirsty
horde of milling delegates, the answer was easy. “Serve ’em up,”
I told the maitre d’. Te short delay turned into over an hour—a
period during which the alcohol fowed like water, with notable
efects on our guests.
During the meal the Dutch delegate—a stocky gentleman
who had lost an arm in World War II—rose majestically and
roared, “I propose a toast.” Everyone raised a glass and a long
silence ensued. “I drunk,” the Dutchman concluded. “I sit
down.”
Shortly after that a gentleman from Niger, elegantly dressed
in an embroidered gown and wearing a tall conical hat, slid out
of his seat and disappeared under the table. As I left, clutching
a bill that was more than double the estimate, Brad Morse, our
guest of honor, was waltzing enthusiastically with a gray-haired
waitress.
A Classy Establishment
Lest it be thought that the United Nations is solely a gather-
ing place for party animals, I should note that some serious
things were happening there, as well. Te 1973 October War
broke out in the Middle East during the session, and the U.N.
Security Council began to meet at all hours to negotiate a
ceasefre. And as if that weren’t enough drama, this occurred
When I was momentarily
left alone as the sole American
representative at a meeting,
the mission dispatched a
23-year-old secretary to
replace me in the U.S. chair.