When I was first visiting Finland in the 1990s, Marti Ahtisaari was the country's president. He lived, as do all Finnish presidents, in the shadow of the mighty U. K. Kekkonen - the country's mythical leader. The most you could say about the man then was that he was a fine president though by no means a Kekkonen.
Later Ahtisaari joined the U.N. and began to attract different attention, angry attention. I recall that every involvement in Israel - Palestine - Lebanon questions brought him a lot of bad press here. He was unyielding, critical, active, not exactly what you'd expect from a U.N. officer. We just wanted them to wear their blue caps and let us run our wars. Marti wasn't into that.
Ahtisaari was not very strongly involved in this region. Yesterday he was awarded the Novel peace prize, namely for achievements made in Kosovo, Namibia and Indonesia. I can only imagine how mean he had to be in those places, in order to reach achievements worthy of such honor. This is the way to make peace.
With your permission, I would like to take this opportunity and endorse a certain ticket in the coming U.S. elections. I'm doing so as an Israeli. In all the years the Republicans have been at the white house, nothing moved in Mid-East politics. The Bush administration "loved" Israel and "supported" Israel. Bullocks. The only way to support Israel is to be tough with it and force it to negotiate and make progress. Anyone who cuddles it will simply stall all potential developments in the region and perpetuate hostilities. The way to run foreign policy is to be tough with everyone equally. The current administration was highly imbalanced in this sense.
This isn't only true to the Neocons. Whenever there is a Democrat in the white house, be it Carter or Clinton, things move here. When the Republicans are in office, all comes to a halt. Sure everything may change, but in truth, I don't expect McCain to have wisely paraphrased Nietzsche's most controversial line: When goeth thee to make peace, do not forget thy whip.
Please, Americans, give us an Ahtisaari, a president who will be unyielding enough to change things for us and for you. Vote Obama/Biden.