September 8, 2006

September 8, 2006 | Commentary on Political Thought

What the U.N. needs now

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee soon will vote on President Bush's renomination of John Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, a position he has held for just more than a year as a recess appointment. He has acquitted himself well in the job to date, validating the confidence expressed by Mr. Bush and those of us who have known and admired him for many years.

More to the point, in light of the upcoming Senate deliberations, Mr. Bolton has completely defied the dire predictions of his critics in last year's bruising confirmation fight. They contended he could not work constructively with others, that he was too abrasive and held the U.N. in too low regard to be effective there.

In fact, on issue after issue, John Bolton has represented the United States with great effectiveness. He has engaged respectfully and productively with his counterparts from other countries and the U.N. bureaucracy wherever possible. His leadership has contributed materially to Security Council actions to address such pressing matters as: Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions, North Korea's ballistic missile threat, Sudan's misconduct with respect to its own people and international efforts to protect them and efforts to disarm Hezbollah and bring peace at last to a fully sovereign Lebanon. These accomplishments should be especially impressive to senators who aver great admiration for the United Nations and attach considerable importance to securing multilateral support there.

Mr. Bolton has also been a forceful advocate for American policies in areas where it was right and necessary to disagree with others at the United Nations. For example, he has tirelessly championed real, systemic changes at the U.N. such as transparent reporting so obviously unavailable in the Oil-for-Food program. He made plain the utter inadequacy of "reforms" that gave rise to a new Human Rights Council with such paragons of repression as Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia serving as members in good standing. He has rightly taken to task international bureaucrats unable to conceal their antipathy for the United States government.

Mr. Bolton's representation has arguably been most laudable, however, those many times when he has vigorously defended our ally, Israel, against anti-Semitic attacks, bureaucratic maneuvers and resolutions that are all too common at the U.N. Not since Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Jeane Kirkpatrick has this country's ambassador to the United Nations been more courageous, competent and robust.

In light of this record, it should come as no surprise that Mr. Bolton's critics have been reduced to citing unnamed foreign diplomats who say they do not get along with our U.N. ambassador. But it is hard to believe so frail a contention will be sufficient basis for Republican senators -- in particular, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island -- to vote to reject his renomination.

The one Republican senator who previously opposed the Bolton nomination, Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, has publicly declared, "For the good of our country, the United Nations and the Free World, we must end any ambiguity about whether John Bolton speaks for the United States so that he can work to support our interests at the United Nations during this critical time."

In the final analysis, the decision before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ? and ultimately the full Senate -- comes down to this: The United States' interests at the U.N. will be best served by affirming Ambassador Bolton speaks authoritatively not just for President Bush and his team but for the country as a whole.

John Bolton's past record of achievement and the imperative need for his future success argues for an affirmative Senate vote at the earliest possible moment. 
    
Herbert London is president of the Hudson Institute, Christopher DeMuth is president of the American Enterprise Institute. Also approving and contributing to the article are Frank Gaffney Jr., founder and president of the Center for Security Policy, and 
Edwin Feulner is president of The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org), a Washington-based public policy research institute and co-author of the new book Getting America Right.  The position adopted in this article represents the view of the signatories and not necessarily the institutions they represent.

About the Author

Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D. Founder, Chairman of the Asian Studies Center, and Chung Ju-yung Fellow
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Related Issues: Political Thought

First Appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times