To the dismay of Democrats, 67 US diplomats and other UN supporters for his harsh objections of the international body, the nomination hearings for John Bolton will be coming to a close this week with a high likelihood that he will be the next US ambassador to the United Nations.
Many of his past public statements seem to support their ire. In a 1994 speech at the liberal World Federalist Association, Bolton declared that "there is no such thing as the United Nations. There is only the international community, which can only be led by the only remaining superpower, which is the United States." To further his point, Bolton said. "If the UN secretary building in New York lost ten stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."
Four years later he was a co-signer of a letter from the Project for the New American Century to President Clinton which included that "American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council."
He has also been criticized by many foreign ministries, in particular Iran, for having a "rude, blunt and undiplomatic" temperament.
With all this said, it makes one wonder why he would even want the job.
Apparently all the Bush cronies are putting their full support behind the career State Department official. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described Bolton as a "tough-minded diplomat" with a "proven track record of multilateral" as she announced his nomination as the new UN ambassador. "The president and I have asked John to do this work because he knows how to get things done," said Rice.
Even the Democrat-in-hiding Rhode Island Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee said that he was impressed with Bolton's performance at the hearings and is ready to put his stamp of approval "unless something surprising shows up" before the vote.
Though I am not usually a Bush supporter, do you just maybe think he is making a bigger point about the UN. The UN is in severe need for reform. Between Oil-For-Food, all those sex scandals and slowness to act upon impending crisis (ie Rwanda), I would like to believe that no matter where you are on the political spectrum, Kofi Annan and the rest of the international body are in need of a serious makeover.
Something like the "Rude, Blunt Eye for the UN Guy.
Whether you like it or not, it is true that the United States pretty much runs the organization, with a financial tithing of 20% towards all UN functioning. Since the US does play a hugh role, maybe it should take some responsibility to reform it, with the help of other countries of course. I don't know if it should be John Bolton, but it should be somebody who is going to be blunt and upfront about the problems at the UN and provide possible ways to solve them. Maybe if Bolton could water down some of his harshness and be more open to multilaterial cooperation, the UN could take charge again and just maybe the US would have better standing on the world stage.
In today's New York Times
, Kofi Annan is finally coming clean about some of the UN's mishaps, both past, present and maybe future. "Last summer, the Security Council, the United States and the European Union all said Darfur was their top priority, said Annan, "But it was only last month that the Security Council agreed to impose sanctions on people who commit violations of international law in Darfur and, in a historic first, to refer the situation in Darfur to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, thus taking a critical step toward ending the prevailing climate of impunity. Last week I handed the prosecutor the sealed list of those identified by the Commission of Inquiry."
He further states that the UN needs to do a better job by giving aid and protection equally. Otherwise "giving aid without protection is like putting a Band-Aid on an open wound," said Annan.
I also agreed with Phyllis Bennis' recent statement on the Democracy Now program about UN peacekeepers. "[The UN] really needs is a standing international U-run military force, which trains its own soldiers in international standards, not recruiting soldiers out of national armies in which all over the world, including our own, issues of abuse, sexual abuse, etc., are rampant," said Bennis, "The UN has no authority over those peacekeepers. The most it can do is to send them home and request that their own governments hold them accountable.
Human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International recently applauded Annan for recommending that UN member states replace the 53-member U High Commission on Human Rights with a new, standing Human Rights Council composed of member states with a solid record of commitment to the highest human rights standards.
While it is definite that Bolton will be the UN ambassador, unless something surprising shows up of course, maybe this is a good time for him and the Secretary General to try to come together and help this important institution.