Chasing the Flame: One Man's Fight to Save the World
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In this perfect match of author and subject, Pulitzer Prize-winner Samantha Power tackles the life of Sergio Vieira de Mello, whose work for the U.N. before his 2003 death in Iraq was emblematic of moral struggle on the global stage. Power has drawn on a staggering breadth of research (including 400 interviews) to show us a heroic figure and the conflicts he waded into, from Cambodia's Khmer Rouge to the slaughter in Bosnia to the war-torn Middle East. The result is a peerless portrait of humanity and pragmatism, as well as a history of our convulsive age.
In his early months in Lebanon, he spent nearly as much time asking General Callaghan questions on military matters as he did dispensing political advice. “It took him a while to understand the nuances associated with military people,” recalls Callaghan. “He had to get oriented around rankings, structures, equipment, deployments, communication systems, and the camaraderie that the military brings to a job.” He pressed Callaghan for tales of previous peacekeeping missions. Callaghan, an animated
Ieng Sary’s cold Thai beer and eating filet mignon like that,” he whispered to Assadi as they departed,“it is easy to forget that the man is a killer.”Whenever Vieira de Mello met with Khmer Rouge officials, he avoided mention of the crimes of the past. As Bos recalls,“Sergio’s focus was always on the future. He was not confrontational and didn’t see the point of asking,‘How much blood do you have on your hands?’” Transitional Authority Without the Authority Vieira de Mello’s inroads earned him
Bosnia saw that the fates of the two missions were intertwined. In Somalia U.S. troops henceforth rarely ventured out of their compounds.“Force protection” became the American mantra. One U.S. officer was quoted in the Washington Post on the eve of his departure.“We’re not cops and we’re having to adopt war-fighting technology for a fugitive hunt in a city of about a million,” he said.7 Bosnia was similar to Somalia,Vieira de Mello understood, in that noncombatants in both places were the prime
obvious.Tasked to deliver food aid but not to fight ethnic cleansing, UNPROFOR had lost both the trust of the Bosnians and the respect of the Serbs. But when the United States brought the weight of NATO to bear on the crisis, it conveyed a resolve that had been absent before.The ghastly carnage of February 5, 1994, had caused the Clinton administration to invest its clout in ending civilian suffering. Diplomacy backed by the threat of force had yielded concessions. As a result, starting on
current fashions and socializing late into the evenings. On the nights he stayed at home, he disappeared into his study, where he immersed himself in a world of books and maps.While he maintained his day job as a diplomat, he managed to write a history of nineteenth-century Brazilian foreign policy, which was published in 1963 and became part of the curriculum for aspiring Brazilian civil servants. He also embarked upon an ambitious history of Latin American navies.5 It was Gilda who kept close