Ismail Lagardien Columnist & essayist

In a great book — The Leopard, a work of fiction by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa that chronicles changes in Sicilian life and society during the Risorgimento — there is a marvellous passage that never seems to go stale. At a decisive point in the story, a young man, Tancredi Falconeri, tells his uncle: “Everything must change so that everything can stay the same.”

In August, there were eight candidates to replace Roberto Azevêdo, who stepped down as secretary-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at end-August. By September, the race had been whittled down to two African women who, it seemed, were falling over themselves to ingratiate themselves with the US. Looking back, it may have been a tactical mistake.

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