When US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's March 7 announcement that the blunt-spoken
and controversial John Bolton would be the Bush administration's nominee for US
ambassador to the UN, some supported the idea as a much-needed means of shaking
up the status quo.
But far more have come out against the move.
Now, 59 former US diplomats have added their voices to the din by sending a
letter urging the Senate to reject Mr. Bolton's nomination. The letter to Sen.
Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, states that
Bolton "is the wrong man for this position." It also chides Bolton
for his "insistence that the UN is valuable only when it directly serves
the United States."
The Foreign Relations Committee must consider the nomination before it goes
to the full Senate for confirmation. Lugar has scheduled hearings for April
The ex-diplomats have served in both Democratic and Republican administrations.
Those who signed the letter include:
* Arthur A. Hartman, ambassador to France and the Soviet Union under Presidents
Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and assistant secretary of state for European
affairs under President Richard M. Nixon;
* James F. Leonard, deputy ambassador to the United Nations in the administrations
of President Gerald Ford and Carter, Ford's successor;
* Princeton N. Lyman, ambassador to South Africa and Nigeria under Presidents
Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton;
* Monteagle Stearns, ambassador to Greece and Ivory Coast in the Ford, Carter
and Reagan administrations;
* Spurgeon M. Keeny Jr., deputy director of the Arms Control Agency in the
The Associated Press reports that the ex-diplomats said Bolton "had an
'exceptional record' of opposing US efforts to improve national security through
Bolton's bold and often-abrasive style has has earned him many critics over
the years. In a now-famous 1994 speech at the World Federalist Association,
Bolton declared that "there is no such thing as the United Nations."
He added: "If the UN secretary building in New York lost ten stories, it
wouldn't make a bit of difference."
In the wake of the announcement of Bolton's nomination, The New York Times
ran an editorial which let a collection of Bolton's quotes make their case that
Bolton "is a terrible choice at a critical time."
The Times ended the editorial by "wondering what Mr. Bush's next nomination
Donald Rumsfeld to negotiate a new set of Geneva Conventions? Martha Stewart
to run the Securities and Exchange Commission? Kenneth Lay for energy secretary?
In a lengthy profile of Bolton, the left-leaning political newsletter Counterpunch
During his career Bolton has never minced words when it comes to his opinions
about the United Nations. While his straight-shooting has clarified his opinions
on US moral and political supremacy and on what he sees as the dubious legitimacy
of the United Nations, Bolton also sees the United Nations as an institution
that can be manipulated, exploited, and controlled.
But, Bolton also has his admirers, many of whom point out that he follows in
a tradition of blunt US ambassadors to the UN, including Daniel Patrick Moynihan
and Jeanne Kirkpatrick, who, they argue, left the UN a better organization than
it was when they started.
In an opinion piece against the nomination, Peter Beinart, editor of the New
Republic and Washington Post columnist, explains how this tradition appeals
to many on the right.
When Condoleezza Rice announced his nomination, she specifically invoked Moynihan
and Kirkpatrick. Numerous right-leaning commentators have done the same. To
some members of Congress, sending a man who has repeatedly trashed the United
Nations to be America's representative there seems perverse. But for neocons
with a sense of history, that's precisely the point.
One person seemingly delighted with the nomination is conservative columnist
Robert Novak, who wrote that the move "shocked the liberal foreign policy
Bolton's critics in the Foreign Service had hopes he would be swept out of
Foggy Bottom in Bush's second-term changing of the guard. That he instead was
nominated for the world's most visible diplomatic post suggests the President
means business in confronting the UN's corruption. It also confirms that Bush
is properly attuned to his conservative base.
President of neoconservative Center for Security Policy Frank Gaffney Jr. writes
in National Review Online that Bolton will bring the UN just what it needs from
the US: a little "tough love."
... it would appear that the UN's admirers recognize not only that George W.
Bush is determined to shake things up on the East River, but that such a shakeup
is in order. The savvier of them may also appreciate that John Bolton is uniquely
capable of persuading the Republican majority in Congress that such an effort
is worth making – and that it has a reasonable chance of rebuilding the
United Nations into an institution worthy of further, generous American support
and involvement. The price may be a sustained dose of tough love, but it is
one that must be paid.
Business Week reports that Bolton's nomination may not be such a bad thing,
because "he may prefer to try to overhaul rather than keelhaul the UN."
Business Week writes that Bolton "may even help the beleaguered UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan keep his current job."
If confirmed after his Senate hearing on Apr. 7, Bolton may play a constructive
role in a new UN effort to transform itself. Many of the recommendations in
the breathtakingly broad reform package that Annan unveiled on Mar. 21 could
almost have been written by the White House. The UN boss hopes to win approval
for the reforms before his term ends in 2006, perhaps starting as early as this
September. That would bolster his record, which has been marred by such controversies
as the alleged mismanagement of the Iraq Oil-for-Food program.
Some analysts believe the Bush administration's decision to nominate Bolton
may actually be a way to gain more support on the right for a softer, more multilateral
foreign policy approach. The Financial Times suggested that in a May 9 editorial.
Mr. Bolton is hardly likely to re-invent himself as a born-again multilateralist.
But if US policy were to be changed in that direction by the decision-makers
in Washington, it would carry more weight with the UN's many critics on the
Republican right if it came out of the mouth of Mr. Bolton.
Although his nomination is expected to be confirmed, Bolton "will likely
face heated questions from Democratic Party lawmakers in the US Senate hearings,"
reports Voice of America.
Copyright © 2005 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved
for more on John Bolton and an informative video of John Bolton's position
on the UN see this Stop Bolton