"His highly practical mantra of 'talking to everyone' caused him lapses in judgment. Sharing French wine with Ieng Sary may have kept the Khmer Rouge engaged in Cambodia's peace process longer than they otherwise might have been, but it also led him to pay too little attention to the atrocities they had committed. In Bosnia his sometimes obsequious deference to Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Slobodan Milosevic brought few concessions at all. As he brought Karadzic the latest edition of The New York Review of Books or scoured the shops of Belgrade for the perfect gift for Milosevic, he lost sight of the fact that he had grown silent on matters of principle and oblivious to the ways extremists were exploiting his determined neutrality to advance their ends.
"But he grew on the job. The massacre in Srebrenica and the genocide in Rwanda seemed to jar him out of an earlier naivete. For the rest of his career, although he still engaged with thugs and killers, he was less prone to appease his interlocutors."
Well, one has to suppose that's something, though half an appeaser still is an appeaser. When the person being appeased is a Sary or Karadzic, the consequences are too obvious to belabor.
At another point, Power writes of Vieira de Mello: "If his ever-evolving approach could be summed up, it would be: Talk to rogues, attempt to understand what makes them tick, extract concessions from them whenever possible, but remain clear about who they are and what they have done, as well as what you stand for. Past sins mattered not just intrinsically but because they were predictive of future behaviors."
Right, forewarned is forearmed -- assuming you're prepared to do something.
Vieira de Mello's alleged transformation notwithstanding, Power concedes that the U.N. has "a knack for 'killing the flame' -- the flame of idealism that motivated many to strive to combat injustice and that inspired the vulnerable to believe that help would soon come."
Worse, its bureaucrats' unshakable belief in an entitlement flowing from their sense of superiority to the U.N.'s member states and from their inherent virtue as the only real servants of that flame has obstructed a real discussion of how the nations willing to put boots and guns on the ground might actually fulfill their human obligation to defend the innocent.