It's finally official, Helen Clark's the victim of her own potential success.

She made it clear that the great amorphous body of almost 200 countries, known as the United Nations, was long overdue for reform and, given the chance, she would have done it.

But the old boys who control the thinking of the world decided they wanted to keep their dominance over global affairs and looked for a more malleable man in former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres - who failed on a number of counts to fit the job description we were told they wanted, that is, a female and a Secretary-General from Eastern Europe.

Guterres resigned from his country's leadership in 2001 to prevent, he said, his country falling into an economic swamp which you'd have to say is where the United Nations is at the moment.


Clark is politically astute enough though to know that she was always going to be an outside choice.

The fact that this country was one of the instigators behind the establishment of the United Nations at the end of the World War II, to prevent another one, doesn't count for much.

It's those who were perceived to have won the war - China, Russia, the United States, United Kingdom and France, that became the permanent five on the impotent Security Council that rule the roost.

The fact that this country fought and almost 12,000 died, again, doesn't count for much.

Others who are allowed to sit on the council, as this country is at the moment, simply pay lip service to the fearsome five.

There have been many proposals to extend permanent membership but there's never been a consensus, with one country bickering about another's inclusion, so the war model power structure is likely to remain.

Clark will be disappointed and will now be considering her options with her second four-year term as No 3 at the UN coming to an end next April.

John Key will be disappointed too.

His cheerleading for Clark wasn't totally altruistic, there was a lot of politics in it as well.

He's aware Clark won three elections in this country, meaning her voter support was fairly well established until he came along.

Being supportive of her won't have done him any harm among Clark devotees who will see this not only as an opportunity lost for her but for the United Nations as well.