Bolting from Bolton?
Posted by Suzanne Nossel
Alright, Heather, I'll take the bait like a first class fish.
I think its just possible that Secretary Bolton is nearing his Linda Chavez moment.
But for the life of me I cannot understand how you can call the attacks on Bolton ad hominem. A nice definition of ad hominem appears here. The essence is that the attack must be on a basis that is irrelevant to the merits of the attacked's assertion (or, in this case, his candidacy), and must purport to be evidence of the invalidity of the claim (or in this case, the fitness to serve).
Virtually everything (I would say everything, but maybe I'm forgetting something) negative I have heard about Bolton goes directly to his fitness for the job. The website you reference, stopbolton.org focuses on Bolton's disdain for the UN and for international cooperation as grounds for defeating his nomination. You may not agree with the point, but its hard to argue that his attitude toward the UN is irrelevant to his suitability for service there.
All the other arguments against Bolton, including my 10 Reasons Bolton Should Not Be Confirmed, Bolton's indifference to genocide, his lack of respect for independent intelligence and dissenting views, his insubordination, his alleged abusiveness toward junior staffers, and his alleged lack of decorum and willingness to smear others (what am I missing . . .) all go directly to his ability to effectively represent the U.S. at the UN. The job of Ambassador is not one of ideologue, it is one of diplomat, policy shaper and manager (of the 100+ person U.S. Mission). All the charges are germane to one or more of these key roles.
I'm speculating that you might think the stuff on Bolton's treatment of CIA analysts and AID staffers is beside the point. But it really isn't. The UN is an important U.S. intelligence outpost, both formally and informally. While the CIA won't go through the U.S. Ambassador, a lot of intelligence is gathered day-in-and-day out by USUN officers through the relationships they build with foreign counterparts. If Bolton stays true to pattern and misrepresents that information, punishing messengers whose messages he doesn't like, that valuable system will break down, taking our diplomacy along with it.
You ask what Bolton's opponents want in a UN Ambassador. Progressives recognize that President Bush is not going to choose someone who shares our viewpoint on the UN, and we can accept that. But there are certain criteria that an ambassador should meet, regardless of party lines.
How about this for starters - - We need someone:
- With a genuine commitment to reforming the UN by making it more effective;
- Who acknowledges the UN's limitations and failings, but also appreciates its promise;
- Who can build effective working relationships among people with varied backgrounds and interests;
- Who can win international support for U.S. policies through persuasive diplomacy;
- Who is open-minded enough to find creative solutions and ways to break through impasses;
- Who can command the respect of, and elicit good work from, staff;
- Who can be relied upon to faithfully implement the policies of the United States.
From what has been revealed since his nomination, I don't think Bolton meets any of the above criteria. I think Negroponte met all or most of them. There might be a case that the attacks against him based on his work in Honduras were ad hominem (though I'd probably argue not), but I don't see how you can say the same about Bolton.
But the better I get to know you, the smarter I realize you are. I have no doubt there's something I'm missing here - looking forward to reading it.