December 4, 2006

December 4, 2006 | WebMemo on International Organizations

In Their Own Words: Ambassador Bolton's Record of Effectiveness atthe U.N.

Today, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton announced his resignation as U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. It is highly regrettable that the nation will not have this hard-working diplomat at the head of our U.N. team in the years ahead. As the following quotes by journalists, U.S. and foreign government officials, and policy experts show, Ambassador Bolton has been a "competent" and "eloquent" leader who has successfully and effectively gotten the U.N. to act on serious issues and who, with laser-beam clarity, has demonstrated why the U.N. needs drastic reform. He will be a tough act to follow.

The Media
"Rather than merely erupt at everyone around him, as his adversaries claim, Bolton brokers peace agreements, frustrates despots, fights genocide and steers nuclear weapons from the twitchy fingers of tyrants."
-Deroy Murdock, Scripps Howard News Service, 11/30/06

"Mr. Bolton has been a competent ambassador. He has diligently worked to impose international pressure on North Korea, in an admittedly failed attempt to get that regime to back off from developing nuclear weapons. He has championed the positions of the United States and its allies forcefully without being obnoxious. He has eloquently questioned the moral standing of brutal and staggeringly hypocritical regimes, so well ensconced in the United Nations, that are quick to attack free and democratic countries that promote tolerance, freedom and democracy. And he has stalwartly fought for reform of financial and other corruption at the U.N.-an ethical position that has angered corrupt elements at the U.N. but is crucial to making the organization function more effectively in helping resolve international disputes and providing aid to the needy... In any event, Mr. Bolton should be allowed to serve on."
-Providence Journal,11/29/06

"He offers insight with a moderate tone, and works diligently with other countries in public and behind the scenes to focus on the serious problems, such as the nuclear-weapons programs in North Korea and Iran and the deepening human-rights catastrophe in Darfur."
-Suzanne Fields, The Washington Times,11/27/06

"Bipartisanship means giving Mr. Bolton another fair hearing early next year and then having every senator cast a vote. As a recess appointee, Mr. Bolton showed his critics, as one defender put it, that 'he has no horns.' He did not live up to his combative style. He didn't repeat such old bombastic lines as: 'If the U.N. secretariat building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.'"
-The Hartford Courant, 11/17/06

"In the council, Bolton was key in negotiating two unanimous resolutions on North Korea's nuclear program, put abuses in Myanmar, formerly Burma, on the agenda, was intricately involved in peacekeepers for Lebanon and is praised for his knowledge on nuclear proliferation in current talks on Iran's programs."
-Evelyn Leopold, Reuters, 11/15/06

"Bolton has done an exemplary job at the U.N. He succeeded in getting resolutions to impose sanctions on North Korea; he brokered a Security Council resolution to end the war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon."
-The Chicago Sun Times,11/14/06

"(Bolton) has worked to build consensus on the world's response to North Korea's nuclear test, Iran's nuclear program, the Middle East conflict and genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.…Bolton has played the role of a proper diplomat, but he has also been blunt about the tremendous need for UN reform in the wake of the oil-for-food scandal and the world body's continued coddling of police states on agencies such as the Commission on Human Rights. Bolton should be blunt about UN reform, a message the body doesn't like to hear. Such distinguished past ambassadors as Democratic Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Republican Jeane Kirkpatrick also were criticized for tough talk on occasion, even when their passion proved to be right on point."
-The Chicago Tribune, 11/14/06

"It was Bolton who recently organized the majority coalition that blocked Hugo Chavez's Venezuela from winning a seat on the Security Council. It was Bolton who worked with France to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah (flawed as it was). It was Bolton who took the lead in pressing for comprehensive reform of the U.N.'s rotting institutional infrastructure. It is Bolton who has refused to play the game of diplomatic double-talk, refusing to participate in the new-and already discredited-Human Rights Council, which he memorably called a case of 'putting lipstick on a caterpillar and calling it a butterfly.'"
-The New York Post, 11/13/06

"Mr. Bolton has performed in exemplary fashion as a recess appointee these last two years, winning plaudits from everyone except those who admire Kofi Annan and Hugo Chavez. He has followed State Department orders and argued forcefully for U.S. policy."
-The Wall Street Journal, 11/13/06

"[P]olls show that fewer than a third of Americans trust the corruption-plagued world body, the budget of which is more than one-fifth paid by U.S. taxpayers. Bolton has been one of the most powerful and articulate voices ever for cleaning up the U.N. Even liberal Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz is a Bolton fan, comparing him to past U.N. ambassadors such as Adlai Stevenson, Arthur Goldberg, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Jeane Kirkpatrick, and upbraiding Senate Democrats for blocking him. So cutting down the man who was our best chance to reform the U.N. has nothing to do with the popular will-and everything to do with Chafee getting the satisfaction of stabbing President Bush and the GOP one last time."
-Investor's Business Daily, 11/13/06

"Whatever the president's real plans are, though, there's no doubt that Bolton has indeed gotten things done and deserves confirmation. Though criticized as lacking in diplomacy, he managed to engineer a compromise in which Panama was elected to the U.N. Security Council. He was praised by the New York Times for his stance on reforming the U.N. Human Rights Commission. He pushed for overall U.N. reform as well, though without much success. He negotiated the expansion of the international Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to include cargo inspections. He recently obtained unanimous U.N. Security Council condemnation of and sanctions for North Korea's nuclear weapons test."
-The Courier (Findlay, Ohio), 11/13/06

"In his 15 months as ambassador, Bolton has negotiated with other members of the Security Council to win unanimous or near-unanimous votes on such divisive issues as North Korea, Lebanon and the Darfur region of Sudan."
-Stevenson Swanson, Chicago Tribune, 10/26/06

"'The time has come for the suffering of the Burmese people to end and for democratic change to begin for the benefit of all the Burmese people and peace and stability in the region.' We didn't lift those lines from a non-government organization. They were delivered by the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, on Friday after a closed session of the Security Council. The meeting marked the first time that the Council officially discussed decades of military repression, persecution of minorities, jailing of democracy advocates, drug and AIDS proliferation, and human trafficking in Burma, one of Asia's poorest nations. ... For anyone who thinks the Bush administration isn't standing up for human rights, Burma presents a good counter case. China and Russia may veto any Security Council resolution, but thanks to concerted U.S. pressure, Turtle Bay is focusing on this benighted nation. Finally."
-The Wall Street Journal, 10/2/06

"That is not surprising considering the vigor with which the ambassador has presented the U.S. positionat the U.N. and the skill with which he has found common ground with other representatives on U.N. policy regarding Darfur, Iran, Burma and Lebanon."
-The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC), 9/27/06

"It could not be more obvious that we need a tough, no-nonsense advocate of U.N. reform and U.S. interests. That is precisely what Bolton has provided, and precisely why he deserves Senate confirmation before his recess appointment expires in January."
-The San Diego Union Tribune, 9/27/06

"U.S. actor George Clooney and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday the world would be blamed for another Rwanda if atrocities were not halted in Sudan's Darfur region…U.S. Ambassador John Bolton invited the celebrities to an unusual session of the 15-member council to highlight the catastrophe amid continuing U.N. frustration about Sudan's refusal to allow U.N. troops to provide safe havens for civilians in Darfur."
-Evelyn Leopold, Reuters, 9/15/06

"Since the U.N. was created in 1945, the United States has had 29 ambassadors. How does Bolton compare?…The Heritage Foundation's expert on the U.N., Nile Gardiner, says Bolton is similar to Kirkpatrick. He's 'dedicated to advancing the U.S. national interest' and 'is respected as a force to be reckoned with inside the U.N. world.'…There's another measure of Bolton's success, the rigorous but fair Voinovich test. That one Bolton has passed. And if he's good enough for Voinovich, he should be good enough for the Senate and the U.N."
-Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard, 9/18/06

"For more than a year Bolton has proven to be a skilled diplomat, a builder of coalitions and at the same time made clear that the U.N. must indeed reform its own operations, especially in the wake of the Oil-for-Food scandal. And his efforts have resulted in some modest successes. But the days ahead are even more critical to the future of that world body and its role in such hot spots as Iran and North Korea, where nuclear programs have set the civilized world on edge, and in the Middle East-where a fragile peace will depend on the constant vigilance of the U.N. Security Council and the ambassador who has so ably represented this nation's interests there."
-Boston Herald, 9/8/06

"As his critics would have it, Mr. Bolton's mission to the U.N. was supposed to be an act of diplomatic sabotage by the Administration. Instead, his tenure has been among the most constructive of any U.S. ambassador since Jeane Kirkpatrick and Daniel Patrick Moynihan."
-The Wall Street Journal, 9/7/06

"Bolton is the most qualified, most capable fellow the U.S. has ever sent to the UN in large part because he is willing to defend American interests against our fiercest antagonists and refuses to be used as a doormat for the international riff-raff in Turtle Bay…He has been a champion for a true human rights apparatus at the UN. He has tried valiantly to get the UN to focus on the problems of international terrorism. The man should be given a megaphone, a medal and confirmation by the Senate.
-Thomas P. Kilgannon, Human Events, 9/5/06

"For too long, it could be said the world did little or nothing as an epic human tragedy unfolded in the Darfur region of Sudan-hundreds of thousands of souls slaughtered, millions more driven from their lands. Only the other day, chiefly by reason of U.S. Ambassador John Bolton's campaign for action, did the United Nations Security Council vote to send peacekeepers to Darfur."
-New York Daily News, 9/2/06

"Sudan officially opposes the resolution. But, after months of discussion, 'It is time for action,' U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told the Security Council on Monday. He's right. The world should know which nations support a robust peacekeeping force for Darfur, and which ones are opposed."
-The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC), 8/31/06

"The proposal that U.S. Ambassador John Bolton and his British counterpart have been working on would provide up to 17,300 troops for Darfur…The Bush administration, admirably, has worked hard on the diplomatic front to end the stalemate. Ambassador Bolton has been a tireless advocate for action."
-The Miami Herald, 8/31/06

"…Mr. Bolton has actually played well since he came to the U.N. last summer, brokering important agreements that strengthened both the American position and that of its allies... [S]tart with Mr. Bolton's negotiating achievements. The troubles between Israel and Hezbollah notwithstanding, the biggest threats to world peace are North Korea and Iran. Just last week Mr. Bolton successfully lobbied both China and Russia to back Security Council Resolution 1695, condemning North Korea's recent launch of ballistic missiles. This week, he is spending a good share of his time brokering a similar resolution in regard to Iran. ….Those who say that Mr. Bolton's personality often gets in the way should note that he did this job almost without notice. The big flaw in the anti-Bolton argument is the premise that a softer ambassador is better. This idea comes out of the Cold War. …Confirming Mr. Bolton would be an act of wisdom, if only because he understands that the U.N. is no kindergarten."
-Amity Shlaes, Bloomberg News, in The New York Sun, 7/26/06

"Bolton has strongly supported reform at the United Nations. He has rightly insisted that crucial reforms should not be picked apart or watered down into meaninglessness. And he is right now to insist that there can be no yielding on the core point of shifting basic management authority from the General Assembly to the secretary general."
-New York Times, 4/26/06

"I think to begin we have to give credit to John Bolton for what he is trying to achieve. He is trying to move forward the reform process. He wants to create a credible Human Rights Commission. He wants to give more flexibility to the U.N. secretariat in its work, and all of that is a good idea. It's supported by Kofi Annan. Even the Europeans agree with that…
-Philippe Bolopion, Le Monde, responding to a question from Richard Roth, CNN Anchor of "Diplomatic License," 12/2/05

Richard Roth, later in the same show:

"Well, on a final note, John Bolton did have some success. After he demanded a Security Council briefing on Myanmar, a country that's never been on the agenda there, China finally said yes and sometime in the future, maybe it will be Kofi Annan, Myanmar will be discussed informally, only at the Security Council."

Foreign Officials

"I enjoy working with him. Professionally, he's capable. He's effective..."-
-Wang Guangya, China's Permanent Representative to the UN, 11/15/06

Let us focus on the good guys.… It's time to express admiration of personalities who have not been cheated by the Iranians. That's why I have nominated two Americans for the Nobel peace prize for 2006. …John Bolton, former undersecretary of state, has with unusual energy tried to find ways to counter this threat. Friends and foes agree-he never gives up. He has repeatedly underlined the threat of Iran pursuing two paths to nuclear weapons: One is the use of highly enriched uranium, achieved by thousands of centrifuges, which Iran has developed and tested. A large buried facility at Natanz is intended to house up to 50,000 centrifuges. Iran resumed activities there just four weeks ago (in direct defiance of the IAEA). The second is through plutonium. Mr. Bolton knows that a heavy-water production plant and the Bushehr light-water reactor can be exploited as cover for sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities. He says another 'unmistakable indicator' of nuclear intentions is Iran's habit of "repeatedly lying to and providing false reports to the IAEA.' The danger is even more serious as Iran is a leading sponsor of terrorism. Mr. Bolton, now U.S. ambassador to the U.N., is also a father of the Proliferation Security Initiative, an international effort to interdict shipments of WMD components, materials and the ballistic missiles needed to deliver them. Thanks to this PSI, the U.S. and others managed to seize centrifuge components en route to Libya in 2003. This led to the breakup of the network of A.Q. Khan, mastermind of the proliferation business in recent years."
-The Hon. Per Ahlmark, former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, 2/7/06, in nominating Ambassador Bolton for the Nobel Peace Prize

"After four months as ambassador, Bolton is still shoveling hard. Most of his fellow diplomats agree that the blunt-spoken envoy is indeed unconventional. Some call him 'a bully,' and others say he is 'brilliant.' But opinion is divided about whether he is effective - if he is cleaning up the mess, or adding to it. 'He is having a definite impact, said Ambassador Mihnea Motoc of Romania, a temporary member of the Security Council. 'Others wish they could do things the same way.'"
Ambassador Mihnea Motoc, Romania, in Maggie Farley, Los Angeles Times, 12/27/05

Current and Former U.S. Officials

"Thanks to the leadership of Secretary Rice and Ambassador Bolton at the United Nations, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that will help bring an end to the violence and create a foundation for a sustainable peace."
-President George W. Bush, Radio Address, 8/19/06

"John Bolton, in his tenure at the United Nations, has shepherded through two U.N. Security Council resolutions with regard to North Korea. He has been working aggressively and actively with our allieson the issue of Iran. He has put together a U.N. Security Council resolution on Lebanon. And I think he has demonstrated an ability to work effectively with other members and other U.N. delegations to move forward and show a leadership role in important business."
-Tony Snow, White House Spokesman, 11/10/06

"John Bolton has had a long period of time in New York and we hope people will step back and look at that record and we think it is a strong record. John has done a terrific job. He has gotten out of the United Nations some very important resolutions on some of the most important issues for our national security…two tough resolutions on North Korea, which many people thought we could not get. We have a very strong resolution in terms of Lebanon at a critical time. John is terrific; he has been a champion of reform and an advocate of American values."
Stephen Hadley, National Security Advisor, 11/9/06

"Based on his capabilities - and now based on his performance - I believe Bolton is well-qualified. ...I think he's been a good negotiator and a good spokesman. He deserves to have a vote. I think he deserves to be confirmed." 
-Senator Joe Lieberman, New York Daily News, 10/17/06

"I would say that this is an argument to get John Bolton confirmed as our UN ambassador. He's smart, he's tough, he would respond to these guys. And he could talk back to these two-bit dictators who have the airfare to New York. And I hope my Democrat friends will stop holding up the nomination of John Bolton."
-Senator John McCain, CBS News "Face the Nation," 9/24/06

"Ambassador Bolton's leadership was vital as he helped to spearhead the Security Council's adoption of Resolution 1701 which ended the current fighting in southern Lebanon."
-Secretary Condoleezza Rice, letter to Senator Chaffee, 9/13/06

"My observations are that while Bolton is not perfect, he has demonstrated his ability, especially in recent months, to work with others and follow the president's lead by working multilaterally. In recent weeks I have watched him react to the challenges involving North Korea, Iran and now the Middle East, speaking on behalf of the United States. I believe Bolton has been tempered and focused on speaking for the administration. He has referred regularly to 'my instructions' from Washington, while also displaying his own clear and strong grasp of the issues and the way forward within the Security Council. He has stood many times side by side with his colleagues from Japan, Britain, Canada and other countries, showing a commitment to cooperation within the United Nations.... Should the president choose to renominate him, 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. For me or my colleagues in the Senate to now question a possible renomination would jeopardize our influence in the United Nations and encourage those who oppose the United States to make Bolton the issue, thereby undermining our policies and agenda."
-Senator George Voinovich, op ed, Washington Post, 7/20/06


"Fifty-seven percent say the U.N. should be 'scrapped altogether' if it isn't reformed fast; 62 percent say it's ineffective in stopping wars; 70 percent want the U.S. contribution slashed; and only 34 percent say it promotes America's security interests…'It's an indictment of the way the U.N. runs,' says Luntz, 'and a huge endorsement of Bolton's reforms.'"
-Frank Luntz, Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research, in Paul Bedard, U.S. News and World Report, 9/10/06

"Bolton has been the most forthright opponent of extremism within our diplomatic corps. He struck a blow against the use of the United Nations as a venue that gave birth to such philosophical doctrines as the noxious 'Zionism is Racism' Resolution."
-Ed Lasky, The American Thinker, 11/11/06

"He's shown that he can be a really effective diplomat. And I hope the administration now takes the wraps off and lets him be the dynamic advocate of American positions that Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Jeane Kirkpatrick were and that he always has been."
-Joshua Muravchik, American Enterprise Institute, in Chicago Tribune, 10/26/06

"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."
-Herbert London, Christopher DeMuth, Frank Gaffney Jr. and Edwin J. Feulner, op ed, TheWashington Times, 9/7/06

"In some ways, he seems to have been more an ambassador to the Security Council than to the United Nations as a whole and I think he has done very well there."
-Ed Luck, Columbia University, in Reuters, 11/15/06

"In the midst of this display of visceral hatred of the Jewish state and the Jewish people, inimical to everything the UN was created to oppose, came a singularly powerful voice for reason, dignity and honesty - Ambassador John Bolton. The crowd assembled in the General Assembly hall was hostile to the man and to the country he represents. But Ambassador Bolton took the podium and spoke with no rancor and no double-talk. Here is part of what he said: 'This problem of endemic to the culture of the United Nations. It is a decades-old, systemic problem that transcends the whole panoply of UN organizations and agencies.... The consequences of this persistent, unconstructive, biased approach are painfully clear - not one single Palestinian is helped and the United Nations continues to be discredited by its inability to confront...the Israel-Palestinian conflict in a serious, responsible manner.' Nobody clapped - in contrast to the applause which the same crowd had lavished on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez when he referred to President Bush this past September as the devil. John Bolton, however, wasn't looking for accolades. In a room where the US has one vote among 192 states, he simply spoke truth to power. 'We believe that the United Nations is ill served when its members seek to transform the organization into a forum that is little more than a self-serving and polemical attack against Israel or the United States.' The strength of his conviction and the veracity of his message reverberated around the room. Ambassador Bolton used his role to explain what America stands for and what it does not. This is exactly what makes an ambassador great, and United States UN Ambassador Bolton one of the greatest."
-Anne Bayefsky, Hudson Institute, 11/20/06

"In one short but eventful year, Ambassador Bolton has already acted in a bold and effective manner reminiscent of former U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick and Patrick Moynihan. Both of them also frequently spoke with a candor and honesty that the United Nations desperately needs to hear. With the multiple crises enveloping the United Nations only bold and decisive American leadership can both protect our own interests and rein in the terrorist turmoil."
-Jeffrey Gayner, Americans for Sovereignty, op ed, The Washington Times, 9/4/06

"When the final resolution was adopted by the Security Council, I understood how extraordinarily effective John Bolton, our U.N. delegate, had been, supported by our only major ally there, Great Britain… The final resolution, while undoubtedly watered down from the initial American proposal, nevertheless could yield positive results if the international military forces in conjunction with the Lebanese army disarm Hezbollah in southern Lebanon from the Israeli border to the Litani River."
-Ed Koch, Real Clear, 8/17/06

Janice A. Smith is Special Assistant to the Vice President in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

Janice A. Smith Special Projects Manager
Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy

Related Issues: International Organizations