Monday, June 20, 2005

Lightning Bolton

With the Bolton matter apparently coming to a head, there's something I still do not understand. The job of a U.N. ambassador is to represent his nation's interests in matters like Iraq, Iran, North Korea, humanitarian aid, etc. The ambassador does not make policy on his own; he takes orders, is told how to vote, and essentially represents policy made by others.

Yet Bolton's boosters cite repeatedly the "need to reform the U.N." as the main reason Bolton is right for the job; President Bush said it today yet again. Exactly how is "reforming" the institution the job of an ambassador? How would that fall under his purview as representative of this nation? In what way could he "reform" it?

I'm genuinely curious about this. Yes, I know the spin from the White House and its media lackeys is that the U.N. is corrupt, Kofi must go, and so on. But has the White House ever explained its vision of Bolton as reformer, or is this one of those stay-on-message mantras that gets accepted through ceaseless repetition?

I would appreciate hearing from anyone who can explain this to me, spin or no spin.

48 Comments:

Blogger Tayefeth said...

I'm betting that "reform the UN" is Bushite for "sabotage the UN and bring it crashing down in a steaming mess."

6/20/2005 7:32 PM  
Blogger Michael B said...

"... there's something I still do not understand."

Like the captain of the Titanic suggesting, "Somethin' might be wrong down there." Here ya go a tiny pdf, 4th and final page, article by Bolton which effectively sums up much of it.

6/20/2005 8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems Bolton has a "habit" of making his own policies.

6/20/2005 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is something I have been wondering about as well.

6/20/2005 9:56 PM  
Anonymous Stygius said...

It's the perfect question, and very difficult to answer. In expectation of Bolton's appointment, Sec. Rice created the post of UN Reform Adviser. This post reports directly to the Secretary -- not to the UN Ambassador. Currently, Shirin Tahir-Kheli fills the position, and has been busy up in New York for months.

So if the "UN Reform" mantra has any substantive relationship to Bolton's appointment, I'd love to see it. So far there has been none. If anything, Bolton has already been ostracized from the process before he takes his seat, because of Rice's foreknowledge that he would most likely screw it up.

6/20/2005 11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all know that this administration never admits having made a mistake. The
nomination of Bolton is a big mistake but it is not being acknowleged as such. They thought (Bush) that by appointing Bolton as the U.N Ambassador he was going to give a "lesson of good behavior" to the rest of the members, chastise them, intimidate them and so on, so that whenever this administration will ask for another resolution of "a call for war", the rest of the members would have been well malleated, and will fall in line. How naive this thinking is.! So the word "reform" is being used over and over again so that psychologically everyone would think that the U.N. indeed is badly in need of reform and Bolton is the one who would do the hatching job.Of course they do not realize that the U.S. Ambassador will have no more and no less power than any other ambassador of any other country appointed to the U.N. Moreover now, the tentacles of threat are at work, i.e. withholding payment of the dues. Now
I am as baffled as TCR. if in fact we are so disenchanted with the U.N. and the administration will not rest unless they see Kofi Anan out of his job, why
the US insists on being a member of the
U.N.? after all this administration, refused
to be part of the international court, the Kobe accord and several other international accord (do not have all
in mind at the moment}.
So, my question is what would happened
if the US would be out of the U.N.? Is the world will come crashing and everything will fall apart, or are we holding the U.N. hostage because of our $$$$$$$ and for our sole benefit and forsaking the whole world?

6/21/2005 1:18 AM  
Anonymous Shep said...

Don't you think Bush means 'reform' the UN the same way he means 'strengthen' social security, i.e., as a euphemism for 'destroy'?

6/21/2005 2:05 AM  
Blogger hilzoy said...

Actually, I think the idea was just to get him out of State. Rumor has it they tried to foist him off on some other departments first, but no one would touch him. So it was the UN or nothing.

I realize this doesn't answer the question what his supporters who are not in the administration are thinking, but then I'm not sure there's a good answer other than, Bush appointed him and must win, plus he'll be, as I think you said once, a giant raised middle finger to the rest of the world. As indeed he would be.

6/21/2005 2:14 AM  
Anonymous semper fubar said...

He's going to "reform" the UN the same way a bull "reforms" a china shop.

It seems quite clear to me that Bush's insistence about getting Bolton into the UN has something to do with our impending attack on Iran. So to me, the more interesting question is why is Bolton's presence there critical to this next misadventure.

The "reform" part is just a smokescreen for what Bolton's role will be in attacking Iran.

Bush is going to get his win-win on this one. He'll get his guy in on a recess appointment, he'll get to paint the Democrats as "obstructionists", he won't have to release the information the Senators wanted (which clearly must contain somehting pretty damaging) and the republican senators don't have to attach their names to this noxious appointment. Actually, I guess that's a win-win-win-win-win for the Republicans.

6/21/2005 7:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bolton will be good for republican political theater. The administration doesn't see the U.N. as worth spit, so they send some nutjob up as ambassador to make speeches attacking the U.N. for the consumption of the U.S. right wing, who will be delighted to "see someone tell off those corrupt U.N. bureaucrats once and for all."

The explanation for everything this administration can usually be found in domestic politics.

6/21/2005 8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like others upthread - reform the UN means blow it up. The GOP as a party - has been fairly hostile to the UN and has constantly yelled corruption, ineffectivness, etc. You haven't heard a plan because there isn't one - much like Iraq and Social Security.

I remember in the 80's the US (meaning the GOP, and specifically Helms I think) holding up US dues because of contraception/family planning in 3rd world countries. It was an excuse then and corruption is an excuse now.

If the GOP can't have a UN as a mouth pice and arm of US government (and only US government) then they don't want it.

6/21/2005 9:06 AM  
Blogger Tayefeth said...

If Bolton is so concerned about the accountability of UN functionaries, you'd think he'd object to being appointed ambassador, rather than elected.

6/21/2005 9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But has the White House ever explained its vision of Bolton as reformer, or is this one of those stay-on-message mantras that gets accepted through ceaseless repetition?

I haven't seen anywhere where the White House explained it.

Rice wants Bolton out of State because of his antics under Powell, but they can't fire him because he's close to another VIP (I forget which), so Bush decided to stick him in the UN. As others have noted, they get to give the UN a big F-U with this nomination.

Maybe also a bit of a diversionary tactic? Get Dems and the media all in an uproar for a few months about this loser Bolton, meanwhile other more important stuff goes unnoticed?

6/21/2005 9:43 AM  
Anonymous kindness said...

Bolton is Cheney's boy through the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). They are one of the neocon groups that's out to re-write the world to their liking. Here's the rougues gallery for the PNAC .

Neocons aren't conservatives, just cons. The only thing different from them & their street counterparts is the size of the scam.

6/21/2005 10:43 AM  
Blogger owenz said...

Saying Bolton will "reform the UN" sounds good politically. That's about it. Personally, I think his nomination is yet another dumb move for the Administration.

When Bolton reaches the UN, he will begin saying stupid things that the White House will have to back pedal from almost immediately. He will be boorish and abrasive - and more importantly, he'll be ineffective. In a word, he will be embarassing. And Bush has gone to bat for him.

Rove is no longer the wonderboy of politics. Most of the "bold steps" the White House takes these days seem to work out badly and this will just be another example.

In reality, Bolton was probably a far more destructive force in the State Department than he will be at the UN, where he'll be loud with a limited influence. He'll be insulting and bad at his job, I think it's safe to say that most diplomats will take his words with a grain of salt. As damaging as he's likely to be, it's probably better to have him pulling stunts out in the open rather than behind the scenes at State.

6/21/2005 2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Washington Post article, Policy Shifts Felt After Bolton's Departure From State Dept., might help.

If Bolton was so bad in his previous job, why nominate him. Why not just fire him? Perhaps Bolton has something on Bush or someone else in the administration and if they fired him he would squeal.

From the article:
"...Bolton's departure is a welcome relief and an opportunity to restore a more pragmatic approach to international relations." Boy, that sounds like someone you'd nominate to a diplomatic position. Not! But maybe the administration hates the UN that much.

6/21/2005 4:41 PM  
Blogger owenz said...

Anon - this Administration has a long history of hiring and promoting those who fail. That's why George Tenet got an award after he retired and virtually every military official responsible for Abu Ghraib has been promoted (so long as they aided in the cover up).

I think the easiest explanation is that the White House values loyalty over ability. By placing flawed officials in positions they'd ordinarily never hold, the Administration ensures it will maintain control over that position. Placing independent, credible officials in those positions would run the risk of producing another Richard Clarke or Paul O'Neill.

Bolton knows his role. He will never turn against Bush, no matter what happens.

6/22/2005 8:44 AM  
Anonymous exclab said...

Bolton is one of the head banger crew - Cheney, Rumsfeld, GW et al. who have yet to produce evidence of the great brains they are supposed to have. You can see the shake out now. Powell and Wolfowitz and lately Rice, have shown talent and ability while the head bangers, even when considering their entire carrers show no promise of any kind. Cheney is the real oddity. What has this man done to earn his reputation?

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