Bush Did Right to Bet on Bolton

Three cheers for George W. Bush. In appointing John Bolton as the next UN ambassador, Bush has tapped the right man at the right time. Though the nomination upsets Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.) and other leaders of the French Interests Section on Capitol Hill, Bolton will act as a check against a secretary-general who is no friend of the American people and an institution that is no ally of the United States. Bolton’s critics immediately attacked him. Susan Rice of the Brookings Institution called him “combative” and “notoriously abrasive.” The Philadelphia Daily News analogized his appointment with that of “David Duke running the NAACP.” The ad hominems are all too predictable, casting Bolton as an unrefined and incapable of rubbing elbows with the distinguished “excellencies” in Turtle Bay. Hogwash. Bolton is a seasoned diplomat with a long record of effectively advocating America’s interests. As undersecretary of state for arms control, he was responsible for reducing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and convincing Libya to give up its WMDs. Bolton also served as the assistant secretary of State for international organizations in the first Bush Administration and was instrumental in repealing the infamous 1975 UN resolution that equated Zionism with racism. Admittedly, Bolton is candid and colorful. His “greatest hits” include his description of the sovereignty-siphoning International Criminal Court (ICC) as “a product of fuzzy-minded romanticism.” After Bolton informed the UN that the United States was withdrawing its support for the ICC, he described it as the “happiest moment of my government service.” In 1994, he observed that if the UN building in New York “lost 10 of its stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.” His opponents recycle these “Boltonisms” as if they were obvious heresies of decided diplomacy, but refuse to address the substance of his arguments. And therein is the point: President Bush has been skeptical of the United Nations since he took office and rightly so. The UN is incompetent and ineffective, and in nominating Bolton, the President is putting the United Nations on trial. The UN bureaucracy is infested with incompetence and corruption (as evidenced in the oil-for-food scandal), pedophile peacekeepers and allegations of embezzlement at the World Meteorological Organization. It is also a political body in which member states mock the ideals of the institution by elevating terrorists and dictators to positions of prestige on the Security Council and the UN Human Rights Commission. As a key component of the liberal establishment, the United Nations is needed by Democrats to continue attacking the President’s foreign policy. But they can’t defend the indefensible. This is why leading Democrats such as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) are assailing Bolton’s nomination as one that “sends all the wrong signals” to their pals in Brussels and Berlin. Kerry questions why Bush would nominate “someone who has expressed such disdain for working with our allies.” But Bolton has done no such thing. He has suggested that the bloated UN bureaucracy can be reduced. He has protected American military personnel from politicized international tribunals. And he has questioned the wisdom of allowing a corrupt institution to administer a “global test” to the one country that has done more for international peace and security than any other. He has also said that “American leadership is critical to the success of the UN,” and given the trouble facing the United Nations, that leadership is needed now more than any time since its founding. When confirmed as UN ambassador, Bolton will either help reform the world body into an effective instrument for advancing peace and human rights, or his tenure will expose the UN as beyond reform, making it unworthy of American participation.