Bolton sunk… for now

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Wow, go see Laura Rozen for the details, but George Voinovich (R-OH) just sided with the Democrats in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to delay a vote on John Bolton’s nomination to the UN ambassadorship for two weeks. Good news. There are a lot of seamy details on Bolton just coming to light, including Bolton’s possible use of NSA intercepts “to wage war against rival officials in the State Department.” Moderate Republicans led by Richard Lugar tried to cut off debate, but Voinovich came out of nowhere to stop them. Again, good news.

From what I gather, Voinovich is something of a moderate on foreign policy, or at least what passes for a moderate in Republican circles. Back in 2003, he publicly encouraged the Bush administration to go to the UN for help with the war in Iraq. And that’s what this is all about. Can moderate Republicans who still believe in multilateralism wrest control of their foreign policy from the likes of John Bolton and his allies, including Dick Cheney? Two of the famous “moderates” on the Senate Committee—Lincoln Chafee and Chuck Hagel—have shown no such desire to confront the Bush administration on this issue. But if they don’t take a stand now, they have no hope whatsoever of pushing Republican foreign policy in a saner direction. (Heck, Chafee didn’t even vote for the president, so why is he voting for the president’s wild-eyed, anything-but-moderate nominee?) Perhaps that’s not what Voinovich’s vote was about, but it’s certainly something he ought to consider.

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