May 21, 2013
CFK at UNO in NYC II
If President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was never going to save a leaderless world, she could have done more to assert her own global engagement over a more personal agenda with her 5th United Nations General Assembly speech yesterday. This speech began promisingly enough on the subject of the world’s biggest crisis today in the Middle East and repudiation of the slaying of United States Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens (even if accompanied by skepticism about the Arab Spring) — however the speech’s beginning is perhaps best understood in terms of its close, which sought an elegant solution to justify constructive engagement with Iran. After being almost as harsh with Iran over the accusations implicating it in the 1994 terrorist bomb destruction of the AMIA Jewish community centre as with Britain for stonewalling Malvinas negotiations (a constant of her UN speeches), CFK concluded that Argentina’s commitment to dialogue in both cases justified Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman meeting his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi. Yet both the tribute to Stevens and the return to tough talk over Iran confirm CFK’s recent pro-US tilt which was a theme of yesterday’s editorial.
In between these two Middle Eastern slices was a giant sandwich in which CFK renewed her conflict with the international financial order for over half an hour — in part well-trodden ground over the last five years (CFK recalled that her maiden UN speech was just after the Lehman Brothers crash in 2008) and in part a highly personalized response to the recent International Monetary Fund ultimatum over the veracity of Argentine statistics. She replied to IMF “red card threats” by calling it worse organized than FIFA and deploring its lack of self-criticism. Along more familiar lines CFK rapped financial capitalism, orthodoxy and austerity with such well-worn phrases as “neo-liberal guinea-pigs of the Washington Consensus” — she blamed the world’s problems on the European Union’s sovereign debt crisis with the emerging markets having to come to the rescue. Argentina’s protectionism (almost as controversial as its inflation denial) was described as purely defensive. Perhaps her most telling point was to define the world’s crisis as political more than economic with no leadership — not that she was talking from any recent Argentine experience.
CFK’s next UN speech will find Argentina on the Security Council — it remains to be seen if her vision then is correspondingly more globalized.