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John Bolton’s Bold Agenda Doesn’t Win Him Many Friends

After several months on the job, United Nations Ambassador John Bolton’s reformist personality still fuels contempt at the U.N. headquarters in New York.  As Bolton begins his February presidency of the U.N. Security Council, it is no surprise that France is objecting to his proposed reforms regarding how the Security Council does business.

Bolton ended his first presiding meeting by telling his counterparts on the Security Council that better collective decision making is needed, calling for daily meetings at which the Security Council would be briefed on U.N. activities by one of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s top aides.  Bolton stated, “It would be good intellectual discipline to have regular meetings.”

Bolton also called for the diplomats to abandon their prepared statements for the meeting, opting instead for real dialogue and debate.  As an entity unfortunately entrusted with setting global policy, the Security Council should be the political body it is.  The Security Council is not a high school speaking class.

The French ambassador complained that the briefing would have to be written in all six official languages.  Greek Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis opined, “When you try to do something that you have not prepared and just throw it on the table, people are not ready.”  If the U.S. Senate “prepared” intelligence briefings, they would have about two briefings a year.

Russian Ambassador Andrey Denisov complained that the ambassadors are two busy to meet daily; twice a week would have to do.  If the Security Council is in effect the most important body of the U.N., the idea that twice weekly meetings are sufficient is ridiculous.  

What else do ambassadors do besides meet and do nothing about global threats?  Between cocktail hours and spending the money the ambassadors pocketed from Saddam, there is plenty of time to meet each morning for a briefing.  After all, most of Congress and the President are briefed daily.  Which reminds me, I have to run to a meeting.

Written By

Mr. Lewis is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.

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