L.B.: Going to the UN

L.B.: Going to the UN January 5, 2007

Left Behind, pp. 239-241

Much of Left Behind is difficult to understand without grasping the authors' bizarre understanding of the role, function and jurisdiction of the United Nations.

I've noted earlier that they seem to view the UN as a kind of federation — not so much like an international version of the United States as like a merely international version of the United Federation of Planets. But that's still not quite right. It's still too democratic. It doesn't quite capture the unidirectional lines of authority they imagine emanating downwards from what they think of as the pinnacle of power.

Their actual view of the UN and its relationship to its member states is more like a feudal model in which the many nations are like quasi-independent baronies and fiefdoms, but in which all are subject to the king. "Secretary General," they believe, is just fancy UN-speak for "High King Over All the World."

Thus, right now, in 2007, they truly believe that Ban Ki-moon outranks, and is more powerful — politically, militarily, internationally — than U.S. President George W. Bush.

Let that sink in for a moment. Here's an article on the new Secretary General: "New UN Chief Focusing on Darfur Crisis." Ban Ki-moon seems sincere in hoping for a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to that crisis, and he seems intent on using the full power of his office toward that aim. The "full power of his office" constituting, essentially, two things: A) talking to people, and B) getting other people to talk to each other.

It's difficult to reconcile LaHaye & Jenkins' view of a uniquely sovereign United Nations with the actual reality of the UN, but L&J's view is not derived from looking at actual reality. Their view, rather, is retroengineered from what they think they know about the future. In the future, they are certain, there will be One World Government ruled by an all-powerful monarch and structured just like the feudal system described above (or rather, not coincidentally, like the Roman Empire under some of its first-century tyrants).

And since they believe the present is made up entirely of a series of small, inexorable steps toward that preordained future, the UN must be a stalking horse for the Antichrist's future OWG.

Keep that view of the UN in mind and it's easier to understand why Buck Williams, who is supposed to be working on a story about the Event — the as-yet-unexplained disappearance of one-third of the world's people including all of its children — and his editor, Steve Plank, decide to drop everything else they're working on, to set aside all thought of those disappearances and their aftermath, and to pick their way (without comment or notice) through the still wreckage-, carcass- and empty-clothes-strewn streets of New York to attend a speech at the United Nations by the president of Romania.

Steve pulled from his breast pocket two sets of press credentials, permitting the bearers to attend Nicolae Carpathia's speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations that very afternoon. Buck's credentials were in the name of George Oreskovich.

That, you may recall, is the pseudonym Buck is using in his half-hearted effort to convince his would-be assassins that they succeeded. He has contributed to the illusion of his death by telephoning his relatives and strolling around JFK Airport and Central Park with his well-known boss. Oh, and he's wearing a baseball cap — one he apparently got from Clark Kent's optometrist.

Steve and Buck then discuss Nicolae Carpathia for a bit, managing for once to do so without comparing him to a young Robert Redford. "He wants to meet you," Steve says, meaning "You, Cameron Williams," which is a bit of a problem, since Cameron Williams is supposedly dead, replaced by "George Oreskovich," whom Sundance has expressed no interest in meeting.

Buck seems dimly aware that keeping his appointment with this rising global celebrity might be a strong hint that he's not actually dead, but he's a bit too addled by egomania to formulate this objection clearly:

"He reads, doesn't he? He's got to think I'm dead."

"I suppose. But he'll remember me from this morning and I'll be able to assure him it will be just as valuable for him to be interviewed by George Oreskovich as by the legendary Cameron Williams."

"Yeah, but Steve, if he's like the other politicians I know, he's hung up on image, on high-profile journalists. Like it or not, that's what I've become. How are you going to get him to settle for an unknown?"

Buck assumes that everyone, even the newly elected president of a newly childless country half a world away, has read about his death. And then, in the middle of this laughably pompous and self-important ode to his own reputation, he chides politicians for being "hung up on image."

This might have worked as a satire on journalists who are so full of themselves they can't see the story. (You know, the kind of people who get so dizzy with their own "high profile" when granted a presidential nickname that it becomes difficult to distinguish them from the male-prostitute shills planted alongside them.) Yet it doesn't seem like that's what L&J intended from this passage. Once again they have presented a portrait of Clouseau while seeming to think they were painting James Bond.

Steve, who agrees with the assumption that every literate human being on the planet would be fully acquainted with every detail of Buck's supposed death because what else could they possibly have to read or think about one week after the Event, comes up with a plan:

"Maybe I'll tell him it's really you. Then, while you're with him, I'll release the report that your obit was wrong and that right now you're doing a cover-story interview with Carpathia."

No need to worry about Buck's life being in danger if his cover is blown. His proximity to this rising star of the UN puts him under the implicit protection of the High King Over All the World, and with the Court of the Emperor itself guaranteeing Buck's safety, he won't have to worry about a conspiracy of assassins who have merely infiltrated the lower echelons of power. They may control the multinational banks and the British and American governments, but such institutions pale in comparison to the all-encompassing might of the United Nations.

That's so staggeringly odd that you may have missed the other astonishing thing we just learned from Steve Plank: the first post-Event issue of Global Weekly will feature on its cover a picture of the president of Romania.

It's probably a good thing that Buck's previously assigned cover story — his Big Picture look at the Event and its possible causes — is getting bumped. After all, instead of working on that story, he flew to England to investigate the death of his emotionally unstable friend Dirk. Buck hasn't taken the first step towards investigating or gathering evidence about the Event, and from what Steve says here, it looks like Global Weekly as a whole has decided to take a pass on the story. That's kind of a bold editorial decision.

Or maybe Buck's Event story just got reassigned to somebody else at the magazine. After all, it's a weekly, and we first met Buck and Steve a week ago. So even though there's been no mention of it, or any indication of their lives being structured around their weekly publication cycle, maybe we're supposed to assume that, despite their apparent preoccupation with all the things we've been reading about them doing instead, Buck and Steve also managed to crank out another timely issue of GW during the past seven days. Maybe we're even supposed to assume they did what any real newsweekly would do and cranked out a special edition as soon as possible after the Event. Maybe they did that while we were reading about Rayford and Chloe.

Because otherwise — and this is the impression one gets from reading only what's on the page and not making any guesses or assumptions beyond that — they missed a publication deadline last week and whatever issues of their magazine still remain on newsstands would be artifacts of the pre-Event world. If that's the case, I suppose, then the good news is that they will only have to deal with about two-thirds as many angry subscribers and advertisers as they had before the disappearances.

Steve doesn't act like the editor in chief for a weekly magazine that just screwed up that badly, but then again he doesn't act like the editor in chief of a weekly magazine at all. He acts like a star-struck TRL fan who has just been given a backstage pass to meet [insert name of current disposable tween heartthrob here, a detail I'd likely get wrong on my own]:

"I was at the press conference, Buck. I met him. … You're going to find this guy the farthest thing you've ever seen from the typical politician. You're going to thank me for getting you the exclusive interview with him."

As they head to the U.N. building, Steve adds, "this is going to be a refreshing change from the doom and gloom we've been writing and reading for days." So maybe Steve has been writing for days about the Event, even though we know Buck hasn't been?

Editing a weekly magazine is like being an NFL coach during football season. Everything you do and think and say should be structured around Game Day. Steve Plank gives the impression that he isn't sure when or where his next game is, or who he's playing against. Maybe we're supposed to assume that he found his way to the stadium in time for his last game, but I have a hard time believing his team won.

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