As Steve Clemons put it, the op-ed by George Voinovich in Thursday’s Washington Post, calling for the confirmation of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the U.N., “blasts the door open“–meaning: this is going to get ugly.
Voinovich wrote: “I cannot imagine a worse message to send to the terrorists — and to other nations deciding whether to engage in this effort — than to drag out a possible renomination process or even replace the person our president has entrusted to lead our nation at the United Nations at a time when we are working on these historic objectives.” –drawing the ire of The Century Foundation‘s Jeffrey Laurenti in a commentary just posted at Mother Jones.
[N]o one expected a renewed effort to legitimize the administration’s brash and polarizing ambassador to be wrapped in the mantle of combating Hezbollah and terrorists everywhere. Once again, its critics underestimated the chutzpah of the administration’s political operatives.
For which chutzpah, see…
In recent years the White House has compiled a notably tawdry track record of squeezing political advantage from death and destruction. The leveling of the World Trade Center by a handful of Saudi nationals armed with boxcutters became, in its skilled hands, the administration’s pretext for renouncing the antiballistic missile treaty, embarking on a crash program of “Star Wars” deployment, and launching an invasion of Iraq. Hurricane Katrina became an opportunity to abrogate union-scale wages on federal projects.
It is fair to say that no one has done more to isolate the United States in world councils than Mr. Bolton, who has virtually alone opposed, time and again, the path-breaking reform initiatives that have passed the U.N. since he arrived. He vociferously opposed the hard-won reform of U.N. human rights machinery, marshalling just three client states to vote with him against the new Human Rights Council.
Strongly indicating that…
Senators of both parties who are concerned about America’s shriveling global leadership should insist on full committee hearings about Mr. Bolton’s performance before allowing this nomination to move to a vote. And they should not shrink from sustained debate if they conclude, as most of the world concluded long ago, that America can do better in New York.
While we’re on the subject, take a look at this MJ piece from a couple of years ago about the Brazilian diplomat Jose Bustani, whose ouster, in 2002, as director of the world’s largest chemical weapons control group was orchestrated by the Bush administration hawks, especially Bolton. The piece quotes one wag as saying putting Bolton in charge of disarmament (at the State Department, where he worked before his recess appointment to the U.N.) was like letting “a pyromaniac have the run of a fireworks factory.” And Bustani has this to say about his dismissal: “I…fell from grace with Washington. And when dealing with people like Bolton, there is no room for dialogue. You just have to go.”