By Monitor THE appointment of Bill Clinton as a UN special envoy to countries affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami is obviously welcome but at the same time rather unusual.

Much has been made of the need to keep the rebuilding of the economies of the affected countries in the public eye once the immediate swell of world concern has declined and Mr Clinton is the kind of person who naturally attracts media attention whatever he does or wherever he goes.

On the other hand, he will achieve relatively little unless he has an administrative structure beneath him to follow through on the initiatives he thinks are necessary; the announcement of his appointment made no mention of this.

It is intriguing to speculate on whether Mr Clinton's acceptance of this role might have anything to do with his interest in a more permanent assignment with the United Nations. Secretary General, perhaps? Kofi Annan's second term in the office has only about a year to run and it is extremely unlikely that he will want another term even if he were offered it. The UN would certainly benefit from a high profile Secretary General but whether President Bush would be willing to see his predecessor in the White House in the job is a very open question indeed.

Another fascinating thought presents itself. Commentators in the United States are saying that Hillary Clinton is showing every sign of wanting to fight for the Democratic nomination at the 2008 Presidential campaign. Hillary in the White House and Bill at UN Headquarters? Not even a Hollywood scriptwriter would dare to write such an unlikely scenario. And if it ever came close to reality France, Russia and China could be counted on to veto it.