March 8, 2005


Harsh Critic of U.N. Named Ambassador: Bush's choice of State Department's John R. Bolton dismays Democrats. Backers say he's a tough envoy who can 'get things done.' (Sonni Efron, March 8, 2005, LA Times)

Bolton's approval seems assured by the Republican majority in the Senate. But with congressional Democrats ex- pressing dismay over his selection, the confirmation hearing may be rancorous. [...]

Bolton's nomination took many on Capitol Hill by surprise. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), who will preside over the confirmation hearing, declined to voice support for Bush's choice. Lugar wants to meet with Bolton "before discussing his support," Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said.

Democrats criticized the choice.

"This is just about the most inexplicable appointment the president could make," said Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.). "If the president is serious about reaching out to the world, why would he choose someone who has expressed such disdain for working with our allies?"

A senior Democratic aide said Rice had telephoned some senators to seek their support, comparing the choice of Bolton to "Nixon going to China" — a reference to the anti-communist president's surprise overture to Beijing in the 1970s.

Conservative Republicans and Israeli officials hailed the nomination. Many conservatives believe the U.N. needs a hard-nosed critic like Bolton to push for financial accountability.

So Karl Rove and George Bush were sitting around the Oval one day, trying to figure out how they could possibly inflict any more damage on the Democrats:

GWB: Imagine if at one stroke we could get them to defend the U.N., side with North Korea, and further alienate Jews?

KR: Hey, boss, how about this one....

A foxy pick: He's as diplomatic as a machine-gun. Yet unilateralist, treaty-busting John Bolton is the pick for US envoy to the UN - a veritable fox in charge of the henhouse. (Jim Lobe, 3/08/05, Asia Times)

In a breathtaking victory for right-wing hawks, US President George W Bush has nominated Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton to become his next ambassador to the United Nations.

Bolton, widely considered the most unilateralist and least diplomatic of senior US officials during Bush's first term, will have to be confirmed by the US Senate, where some Democrats, a few of whom were said to be stunned by the nomination, are expected to put up a fight.

One aide called the nomination "incredible", particularly in light of recent indications, including Bush's talks with European leaders at the end of last month, that he and his new secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, intended to pursue a more multilateralist policy in his second term and was determined to smooth the rougher diplomatic edges of his foreign-policy team. [...]

"This is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse," said Heather Hamilton, vice president of programs for Citizens for Global Solutions, formerly the World Federalist Association (WFA), who called Bolton the "Armageddon nominee".

The Armageddon allusion was to Bolton's long-time loyalty to former ultra-right Senator Jesse Helms who, on retiring from public life, described Bolton as "the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon, if it should be my lot to be on hand for what is forecast to be the final battle between good and evil in this world".

Since 9-11, Mr. Lobe has declared neoconservatism dead approximately 27.6 times.

-Bush Nominates Weapons Expert as Envoy to U.N. (STEVEN R. WEISMAN, 3/08/05, NY Times)

Even within the Bush administration, some said they were surprised that Mr. Bolton, who only last fall angered a room full of diplomats when he spoke disdainfully of the European effort to negotiate with Iran, was picked for such a sensitive job.

While the diplomats and administration insiders who raised questions did so anonymously because of the sensitivity of the nomination, in the Senate, where he will have to be confirmed, Democrats publicly criticized the appointment. Some Republicans predicted that he might have difficulty winning confirmation.

"This is a disappointing choice and one that sends all the wrong signals," said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader.

Mr. Bolton, a former protégé of Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, once said that "if the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference" and that "there's no such thing as the United Nations."

An aide to one ambassador at the United Nations Security Council said his boss considered the nomination "a disaster," but he added: "The real question is what is Bolton's mission. Does he come here to attack the institution, or does he really come here to help the U.N.?"

Another winning argument: he's too mean to Germany, France, and the mullahs...

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 8, 2005 7:48 AM

The oil-for-food and child sex scandals have barely played out, the U.S.'s Mideast strategy appears to be working after a quarter-century of U.N. failures in the region, and now is the time that Kerry and Reid want to draw a line in the sand about Bush's appointment of a hard-liner to serve as ambassador? These guys make Jimmy Carter look insightful when it comes to foreign policy.

Posted by: John at March 8, 2005 8:15 AM

A hard-liner responsible for getting rid of the Zionism is Racism resolution at the UN.

Posted by: oj at March 8, 2005 8:35 AM

But you missed the stunning bit; Senator terry making an insightful observation. of course, Kerry probably thinks the answer is "he's stupid" instead of the correct and obvious answer, "he doesn't" .

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 8, 2005 8:56 AM

Actually, there is some very real precedent from Reagan who appointed Jeanne Kirkpatrick as our UN Ambassador. Her academic treatise contrasting our SOBs (authoritarians) with their SOBs (dictators) was an instructive lesson in distinguishing grey from black. It was also an implied laundry list, first we wash out their genocidal maniacs then we do our own laundry.

Of course, it necessarily follows that once we got rid of their SOBs (ie the Communist dictators) that our authoritarian SOBs were next on the list to go. One hundred years from now the text of any reasonably accurate history will comment on the enormous consistency of America's twentieth century foreign policy in creating conditions that permitted democracy to flourish throughout the world.

That doesn't mean that Wilson and Johnson didn't overreach or that Carter wasn't fatally flawed by his naive beliefs that our SOBs were worse than theirs (or at least more accesible) or that Clinton's Serbian campaign wasn't compromised by his own character flaws. It just means that even the more ineffectual foreign policy of Democratic Presidents weren't inconsistent with long term American interests in furthering democracies everywhere. And, give credit where it's due, the Democrats also had Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy as evidence of their essential capacity for competency and ruthless willingness to use force in creating and defending democracies worldwide.

The wonderful thing is that even if you prefer old fashioned self-interest over idealism as a governing force in foreign affairs, you end up as an advocate of the judicious use of American force to further democracy when conditions permit.
Nixon and Kissinger in Chile or Bush and Rice in Syria, it's all one unifying impulse.

It's very much like the British foreign policy on the continent where they spent hundreds of years breaking up every imperial prospect that threatened to creation an overwhelming correlation of forces that challenged Britain's security. The method Britain used was to further the nationalist impulses of small nations such as Denmark, Portugal and Holland. The Brits didn't really idealize these smaller nations while they used them as a shield but those nations inevitably benefited by their own continued independent existance.

So too when America furthers democracy selling it domestically as idealism while benefiting itself by gaining piotential allies by freeing captive peoples.

Posted by: Ray Clutts at March 8, 2005 8:58 AM

They still don't get it. The president isn't trying to keep the string going. He's sending in the "marines" to shake things up and fix the problems at the UN, not to validate the status quo.

Get rid of the UN and we'll get rid of a lot of terrorists sympathizers out of the country. Send it to the euroweenies.

Posted by: erp at March 8, 2005 10:12 AM

The GOP Senate is not going to reject a presidential appointee in foreign affirs, period. It would be an insult to Rice and the President and no GOPer will risk it, whatever their private ojections.

Kerry needs reminding who won in November.

As I've said before, George Bush is the boldest SOB in politics.

Posted by: Bob at March 8, 2005 10:55 AM

Keep the yappers busy.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 8, 2005 12:17 PM

"if the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference"

If it lost all 45, we could replace it with luxury condos, and make a boatload of money.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 8, 2005 12:51 PM
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