Friday, December 03, 2004

Danforth Resigns

John C. Danforth, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, resigned his post in a letter to President Bush dated November 20. He became the U.N. ambassador on July 1 when his predecessor, John Negroponte, left to become the United States Ambassador to Iraq immediately after sovereignty was transferred to the Iraqis.

An ordained Episcopal minister who served three terms in the U.S. Senate from Missouri, Danforth was known--both in the Senate and at the United Nations--as a man of unassailable integrity. His long association with the Senate, his tendency to speak bluntly at the U.N. (a tendency often muted by the State Department), and his character invite comparisons to the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who served as U.N. Ambassador from 1975 to 1976.

Moynihan, in his 1980 book A Dangerous Place, an account of his U.N. service, wrote, "The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with not inconsiderable success." Danforth's experience in his tenure was somewhat different. He was given the task of making the United Nations more effective, at least in response to the genocide in Sudan, but met with little success. But not for lack of effort.