Weekly Top 10 List - Top 10 Reasons Why John Bolton Should Not Be Confirmed As U.S. Ambassador to the UN
Posted by Suzanne Nossel
Bolton’s confirmation hearings start Thursday, and its not too late to weigh in, particularly with Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. While the chances of flipping any conservatives on the SFRC to vote against Bolton are slim, Chafee is thought to be the best prospect. For more on Bolton check out the Arsenal archive, the CAP website, and especially the washingtonnote.com which is on the forefront of this battle.
Top 10 Reasons:
10. He hates the UN. He’s said that the U.S. should be the only country on the UNSC, that the UN building could be shaved of 10 stories without it making a difference, etc. Check here for direct quotes.
9. He doesn’t believe in paying U.S. dues to the UN. And has said so. A big part of the job of UN envoy is working with the Hill to get U.S. contributions paid. Withholding dues in the ‘80s and ‘90s led to a diplomatic debacle that took years to put right. We don’t have the time, energy or goodwill to waste on such battles.
8. He won’t enjoy the support of U.S. diplomats around the world. 60+ ex-diplomats have signed a letter opposing Bolton. Current envoys feel the same way. But Bolton will need the embassies to back him in capitals to succeed in pushing through U.S. proposals (see Retail Diplomacy). Personal views about Bolton will undercut this support.
7. He and the Secretary of State are not on the same page. Insiders seem unanimous that Bolton was foisted on Rice. This is a recipe for tension between USUN and the Seventh Floor, a fissure that other countries will try to exploit.
6. His statements on China are reckless. He clearly enjoys the role of provocateur vis-à-vis China and Taiwan. At a sensitive point in relations, we cannot afford to have a flamethrower in the mix.
5. The damage will not be confined to the UN. Bolton is not a team player. He has a track record of breaking rules and exceeding his mandate (including by setting an unauthorized deadline for Russian acceptance of US conditions for remaining in the ABM treaty). The UN post touches on a wide range of issues, and is notoriously difficult for the State Department to control.
4. Denying confirmation would signal the world that the foreign policy opposition is alive and kicking. If they see an active progressive opposition, the world will continue to distinguish between their view of this Administration and their view of America at large. With Bush’s reelection and supposed mandate, the separation gets harder -- and more important -- to sustain.
3. He will not change his spots. Some, including progressives, have argued that Bolton may change his ways once at the UN. But this is the man with whom Jesse Helms wants to stand at Armageddon. Can you imagine, if the roles were reversed, conservatives giving the “benefit of the doubt” for a nominee they saw as weak on security (“well, once he gets to the Pentagon, that may toughen him up”).
2. He is a proven opponent of arms control. Bolton has blocked a slew of arms control agreements, from the CTBT to a small arms accord and a biological weapons agreement. With proliferation, terrorism and the combination thereof topping of the list of threats against the U.S., arms control belongs at the forefront of U.S. national security strategy. Bolton will stand in the way of that.
1. He will be ineffective in representing U.S. interests. And this is most important of all. Promoting U.S. interests at the UN is an art and a science. A hammer is an essential part of UN diplomacy. But Bolton is missing the rest of the toolbox. See my article on Retail Diplomacy (PDF) for more on how the US can get its way at the UN through crafty diplomacy.