Editor’s Note: The following article appeared early in John Bolton’s temporary appointment to the UN. We thought it was worth reading again as Congress votes on his appointment. The qualities identified at the outset of his service at the United Nations provide a rationale for his permanent appointment.
Just weeks after his appointment as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton has taken pen to paper and inked in almost 800 changes in a document containing nearly 40 pages of business-as-usual proposals for increasing the U.N.’s power to police the world. The document, issued by U.N. General Assembly president, Jean Ping of Gabon, was meant to receive rubberstamp approval from nearly 200 heads of state on their way to New York for the mid-September World Summit.
Bolton’s move is, quite literally, his own declaration of independence, clearly establishing his leadership in countering the Old Guard that has dominated the General Assembly for decades. While Bolton took a rather indirect route in establishing his power at the United Nations, he has, nevertheless, thrown down a gauntlet to those detractors who have called him an “anti-U.N. simpleton.” His wily move is garnering support from those diplomats who have problems with the U.N.’s high-handedness, while the usual suspects are denouncing him as a “saboteur” rather than “an ambassador.”
His surprise move slicing and dicing the 40-page document let Secretary General Kofi Annan and his colleagues know that he will read every word of their tedious rhetoric (about “digital divides” and “foreign colonial occupation”) and none of their utopian goals (like an International Criminal Court or redistribution of wealth) or special lingo of hidden meanings will slip past his eagle eyes.
Bolton will not allow their diversionary tactics (focusing on world problems instead of internal corruption at the U.N.) to shift attention away from the scandals under Annan’s watch. Nor will lofty sentiments and ridiculous theories slip past the intense scrutiny of John Bolton, who intends to see genuine reform replace the self-serving policies that have for so long cloaked the Left’s special agenda at the U.N.
Bolton has a reputation as a “tough-minded diplomat” who knows how to get things done as well as how to stop efforts to contain America’s national sovereignty. Bolton actively opposes all international efforts to limit U.S. power and defense capability. He actively opposed Annan’s efforts to declare the U.N. as the sole legitimate entity for using force in international disputes. Indeed, he has called Annan’s statements “breathtaking” in their audacity. He was an outspoken critic when President Clinton approved the International Criminal Court (ICC). He criticized the ICC’s “fuzzy-minded romanticism” as “not just nae, but dangerous.” He also opposed the former President’s signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (which was later rejected by the Senate, in part because of Bolton’s campaign in opposition).
Bolton strongly opposes unenforceable treaties; he is a sharp-eyed realist who can cut through overblown rhetoric to see stark reality.
In short, Bolton’s approach to diplomacy is embodied in the phrase “peace through strength.” For instance, he recommended that the United States make it clear to North Korea that the U.S. has nothing to gain by establishing “normal” diplomatic relations with that rogue nation.
When he was nominated for the U.N. position, Bolton said, “We seek a stronger, more effective organization, true to the ideals of its founders and agile enough to act in the 21st century.” He added, “It will be a distinct privilege to be an advocate for Americans’ values and interests at the U.N. and in the words of the U.N. Charter, to help maintain international peace and security.”
It’s about time to have an “advocate for Americans’ values and interests at the U.N.” John Bolton’s editing of the proposal for next month’s U.N. summit carries the punch of a major hurricane. He once said that it wouldn’t make a bit of difference if the world lost the top 10 floors of the U.N. Headquarters. Let’s hope that Bolton’s barrage will sweep away the detritus of Mr. Annan’s tenure and establish a new standard for diplomatic discourse at Turtle Bay; certainly his critics will have to work hard to keep up with Ambassador Bolton. He has proved that he has nothing to gain by kowtowing to the U.N. bureaucracy or to rogue nations. His first wallop was a solid blow against the pompous emptiness of the U.N.’s documents and policies. His detractors may not like him, but they will have to take him seriously.
Janice Shaw Crouse has analyzed and written about the United Nations since 1995 when she trained a pro-life and pro-family team to influence the outcome of the Beijing Conference on Women.