Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Bolton

The Senate of the United States failed to confirm John Bolton for the post of United Nations ambassador. President George W. Bush gave him the job just the same in a recess appointment. The leaders of the Democratic Party, Senators Harry Reid, Edward Kennedy, Charles Schumer, John Kerry, and Christopher Dodd, speaking for the large part of their party, described Bolton as “a flawed and weakened candidate” and “damaged goods.” Further illustrating the talking-points-memo mentality, they each managed to refer to the appointment as an “abuse of power” by the President.

“And now,” as Paul Harvey is wont to say, “for the rest of the story.” Before I get to the good stuff, let me dispense with the obvious and easy elements of this sordid tale. Nominee John Bolton had majority support and a simple majority is, and has always been, the deciding factor in appointment confirmations. The Senate Democrats filibustered this nominee. Let’s just forget, for the sake of argument, whether the filibuster was legitimate or not. When Harry Reid stands before the cameras and microphones to say that Bolton is “flawed and weakened” it is only because he lead the minority opposition to his confirmation and would not allow a vote to be taken. When Christopher “waitress sandwich” Dodd calls Bolton “damaged goods,” well, we have to consider the source. When Edward “Chappaquidick” Kennedy is sober enough to string three words like “abuse of power” together without slurring, that’s quite a moment. It’s a pity that John Kerry flunked poli-sci, or he could explain to Chuckie about Article I Section 3 and Article II Section 2 of the Constitution [for recent public school graduates, those are the parts granting the President the power to make recess appointments]. The proper response to the Democratic Senators is scorn and laughter. It IS an appropriate use of Presidential authority to fill the ambassadorship to the UN and to select the man of his choice. It WAS an unconscionable failure of the Democratic Senators to not do their job and vote especially for pure political gain. Furthermore, by appointing the man of his choice, President Bush has shown to the world at large and the other UN ambassadors specifically, that John Bolton is his man and speaks for him. No greater credibility could an Ambassador to the United Nations have.

What do you really know about John Bolton? Certainly you know that subordinates who don’t perform have been “taken to the woodshed” by him. There is the disproved rumor that he tried to force intelligence data to be skewed. There is also the oft repeated comment he made about the UN leadership: “If you lopped off the top ten stories of the UN, no one would notice.” Considering the performance of the United Nations, especially recently, what’s so wrong about that statement? The job of the United Nations is to promote peace and stability throughout the world. However, it was NATO that went to work in Bosnia while the UN looked the other way. Was it peace or stability that the UN was working on in Rawanda? How about that UN response in Darfur? The UN did a bang-up job in Mogadishu, Somalia. The Ivory Coast. Cyprus. Haiti. Those UN Peace keepers raping boys and girls in third world countries are sure working for their “piece.” The Oil-for-Food fiasco. Quite simply, the United Nations is a great concept in theory, but a really bad idea in practice: it is a truly democratic body where dictatorships are on an even footing with democracies and despots are given equal voice with elected governments. You might be surprised at how few free countries there are in the world and each of them is represented equally with the United States in the UN forum. It was only a few years ago, in May 2001, that the US was voted off of the UN Human Rights Commission while countries like Russia, India, Cuba, Syria, and even Iraq have been on it and even have held its chair! And in case you’ve forgotten, Kofi Annan and the governments of France, Russia, and China, (3 of the five permanent members of the Security Council) were all bribed (with UN Oil-for-Food money) to obstruct sanctions and vote against military intervention in Iraq.

Hoshyar Zebari addressed the Security Council on December 16, 2003 to say: “this Security Council was divided between those who wanted to appease Saddam Hussein and those who wanted to hold him accountable. The United Nations as an organization failed to help rescue the Iraqi people from a murderous tyranny that lasted over thirty-five years, and today we are unearthing thousands of victims in horrifying testament to that failure. The United Nations must not fail the Iraqi people again.” Zebari should know, he was a guerrilla fighter during Kurdish rebellions against Saddam Hussein and is now the Iraqi Foreign Minister. Left to its own devices the UN will not change, but a man like John Bolton could be a catalyst for change there.

There are things about Bolton that the Democratic Senators did not want the voters of the United States to know, things that many of the governments represented in the UN do know and respect. After the shooting war with the Hussein regime had started in March 2003, the Iraqis bought six GPS Jammers from our allies, the Russians. The jammers scrambled GPS signals thereby defeating our smart-bombs. It took over 3 weeks to locate and destroy them during which time our pilots and Iraqi civilians were exposed to greater danger. As Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, John Bolton dealt with the Russians on the issue of the GPS Jammers and their other on going sanction-violating arms dealings with Saddam Hussein. In his no-nonsense (you could say brusque or abrupt) manner, Bolton faced down repeated Russian obfuscations and excuses, force-fed them the clear evidence of their dealings and got them to back off.

The State Department operates as a liason between the United States and other countries. This often creates a dichotomy for State Department officials: on the one hand, their mandate is to facilitate relations with other countries, while on the other, that mandate comes from the people of the United States. Its a little bit silly, but most citizens of the United States expect the State Department to work for them, not for the other countries. John Bolton is like most citizens and this caused friction with many career State Department employees - some of whom ran into conflicts with him over it and went on to testify against his nomination. One of those “conflicts” arose when the East Asia division of the State Department recommended more concessions for North Korea on its nuclear arms program and John Bolton, in his scrappy way, dug in against them and called for a hard-line with Pyongyang. Bolton had this foolish idea that the communists threatening our destruction couldn’t be trusted, especially after they did so well with the criminally foolish Carter/Clinton Agreed Framework of 1994.

Another quirky contest arose between the career State Department types and John Bolton when he wanted to speak out about Syria’s illegal weapons programs and its sanction-violating aid to Iraq. State didn’t want to jeopardize a burgeoning relationship with Damascus and tried to gag Bolton. Rather than play the game, Bolton went to speak to the House International Relations subcommittee: “Syria allowed military equipment to flow into Iraq on the eve of and during the war...Syria permitted volunteers to pass into Iraq to attack and kill our service members during the war, and is still doing so...its behavior during Operation Iraqi Freedom underscores the importance of taking seriously reports and information on Syria’s weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities.” So much for Syrian co-operation, yet many happen to believe that recognizing the enemy is better than being stabbed in the back. Syrian “volunteers” didn’t jibe with the Senate Democrats’ description of the terrorists as insurgents and Iraqi freedom fighters, so they avoided all mention of Bolton’s testimony from less than two years previous.

Someone said: “While Iran has consistently denied any program to build nuclear weapons, the IAEA has amassed an enormous amount of evidence to the contrary that makes this denial increasingly implausible. In what can only be an attempt to build a capacity to develop nuclear weapons, Iran has enriched uranium...and produced and reprocessed plutonium. It attempted to cover its tracks by repeatedly and over many years neglecting to report it’s activities, and in many instances providing false declarations to the IAEA...the real issue now is whether the Board of Governors will remain together in its insistence that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is illegitimate, or whether Iranian efforts to split the Board through economic incentives and aggressive propaganda will succeed.” Can you imagine such language - strong and resolute - at the United Nations? That statement came from John Bolton and he will take that clear-speaking attitude and put it where it might do some good. It is well beyond time that the thugs of the world were clearly identified and held under the spotlight.

The Proliferation Security Initiative is a new and innovative program involving many nations to take the fight to the proliferators of weapons. It involves actively interdicting and combating the weapons transfers as they happen. After decades of detente and discussion, sanctions and appeasement, it is a bold move and long overdue. The man responsible for the Proliferation Security Initiative is John Bolton. This is the fractious, arrogant, uncompromising individual that the Senate Democrats say is “damaged goods” and a “flawed and weakened candidate,” totally unacceptable for the post of Ambassador to the United Nations. To them, I say, “feh!” The monolithic USSR that Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Jeane Kirkpatrick had to contend with and maneuver around in the UN no longer exists. Today’s UN is a more hands-on place. Rather than one large opponent pulling the strings of many little ones, there are many little opponents trying to puff themselves up to superpower status. What is needed is a roll-up-his-sleeves get-his-hands-dirty ambassador, someone who’s not afraid to speak up and speak out, to call a tyrant a tyrant.

Any real review of his record shows John Bolton is such a man. Had the Senate Democrats been more attuned to the needs of the country and less attuned to the demands of their funders in the political action groups, the Moveon.orgs, the NARALs, the likes of Ralph Neas and George Soros, they would have confirmed John Bolton or at least let him come to a vote. Having cleared the confirmation committee, Bolton was due a vote and it was purely partisan politics, the need to deny George W. Bush any successes, that stood in the way. In the end, the Democrats will have to answer for their obstructions at the ballot box soon enough and John Bolton goes to the UN anyway.

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