May 23, 2005
Throughout my time in the Senate, I have been hesitant to push my views on my colleagues. However, I feel compelled to share my deep concerns with the nomination of John Bolton to be Ambassador to the United Nations. I strongly feel that the importance of this nomination to our foreign policy requires us to set aside our partisan agenda and let our consciences and our shared commitment to our nation’s best interests guide us.
At a time when the United States strives to fight terrorism globally, to build a stable and free Iraq, to find a peaceful resolution to the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, to spread democracy in the place of oppressive regimes, and to enact needed reforms at the United Nations, it is imperative that we have the support of our friends and allies internationally. These strong international relationships must be built upon robust and effective public diplomacy.
I applaud our President for understanding this and for his leadership on U.S. public diplomacy. He and Secretary Rice have taken important steps to reach out to the international community and strengthen relationships. Additionally, I applaud the President’s decision to appoint Karen Hughes to enhance U.S. public diplomacy at the State Department, and recently to get even the First Lady involved in these important efforts to promote public diplomacy.
However, it is my concern that John Bolton’s nomination sends a negative message to the world community and contradicts the President’s efforts. In these dangerous times, we cannot afford to put at risk our nation’s ability to successfully wage and win the war on terror with a controversial and ineffective Ambassador to the United Nations. I worry that Mr. Bolton could make it more difficult for us to achieve the important U.N. reforms needed to restore the strength of the institution. I strongly believe that we need to reform the U.N., make it a viable institution for world security, and remove its anti-Israel bias. However, I question John Bolton’s ability to get this job done.
I know that you are very busy, but I would appreciate it if you would review my edited statement before the Foreign Relations Committee as to why I think we can do much better than John Bolton at the United Nations. In my closing words, I stated the following:
“Mr. Chairman, I am not so arrogant to think that I should impose my judgment and perspective of the U.S. position in the world community on the rest of my colleagues. We owe it to the President to give Mr. Bolton an up or down vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate. My hope is that, on a bipartisan basis, we send Mr. Bolton’s nomination to the floor without recommendation and let the Senate work its will. I would plead with my colleagues in the Senate, if this nomination gets to the floor, to consider the decision and its consequences carefully, to read all of the pertinent material, and to ask themselves several pertinent questions: Is John Bolton the best possible person to serve as the lead diplomat at the United Nations? Will he be able to pursue the needed reforms at the U.N., despite his damaged credibility? Will he share information with the right individuals and will he solicit information from the right individuals, including his subordinates, so that he can make the most informed decisions? Is he capable of advancing the President and Secretary of State’s efforts to advance our public diplomacy? Does he have the character, leadership, interpersonal skills, self discipline, common decency, and understanding of the chain of command to lead his team to victory? Will he recognize and seize opportunities to repair and strengthen relationships, promote peace, and uphold democracy - as a team – with our fellow nations?”
If you have any comments or questions in regard to my deep concerns about this appointment, I would welcome them.
George V. Voinovich
United States Senate