- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 15, 2003

This year’s CARE Ball was, as always, a black-tie affair that began with dinners at various ambassadors’ residences around town (this time there were 30, ranging from Lesotho to Syria to France), followed by dessert and dancing at the Organization of American States.

Peter Bell, president of CARE USA, said he had dined Friday night at the home of Jordanian Ambassador Karim Kawar, where the guests had “very serious conversations about the Middle East.” Maybe that’s no surprise, because the group included veteran ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (who was scheduled to leave for Baghdad the next day).

At another dinner, New Zealand Ambassador John Wood felt obliged to explain why his country didn’t support the war in Iraq as his 18 guests enjoyed New Zealand lamb on asparagus and fine New Zealand wines: “We thought the diplomatic process was starting to work.”

Mr. Wood knows a bit about Middle Eastern politics, having served as his country’s envoy to Iran in the late 1980s, when an Iraqi Scud missile hit his embassy in Tehran. “I’ve been following Saddam Hussein’s career with interest ever since,” he noted wryly.

Once united at the Organization of American States, Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering, Rep. Edward J. Markey, Sen. John B. Breaux, Colombian Ambassador Luis Alberto Moreno, former Rep.Robert Livingston and other VIP guests sampled desserts that included tiny cannoli, truffles and chocolate-dipped fruits. Many were too stuffed from dinner to partake heavily despite the fact that the ambassadors’ chefs had been requested to remove sweets from their menus by ball co-chairwomen Lois Breaux, Mary Jo Myers and Assistant Surgeon General Susan Blumenthal. Sooner or later, nearly everyone was dancing it off to the band’s motley mix of Motown standards and prehistoric disco hits such as the Village People’s “YMCA.” (Credit Mr. Donaldson for being one of the more enthusiastic dancers on the floor.)

Organizers hoped to raise $400,000 for special projects in key areas of the world, especially in such priority countries as Iraq, where one of CARE’s buildings was looted recently in the disturbances following the breakdown in civil authority there. CARE, a nongovernmental charity founded in 1945 to assist survivors of World War II, has 70 staff members in Baghdad who are concentrating on the need for clean drinking water and increased security for hospitals and schools.

Christina Ianzito

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