About four months after John Bolton became America’s United Nations ambassador, I watched him deliver a luncheon address to the Manhattan Institute.
“I wonder if he’ll throw something at the help?” I whispered to another guest.
I was joking, of course, but Bolton’s critics are not. They consider him as diplomatic as a catapult.
“He’s been a very ineffective bully,” Senator Chris Dodd (D., Conn.) said September 6. Senator Barbara Boxer (D., Cal.) recommended that Bolton seek “anger management counseling.” Other Bolton detractors recently decried his “egotistical intolerance.”
In an October 5 pro-Bolton letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R., Ind.), 40 former U.S. ambassadors (including Bruce Gelb, one-time envoy to Belgium, and Richard Burt, America’s past representative in Germany) complained that Bolton’s opponents “cannot refrain from generalized ad hominem attacks and leave out only an all out attack on Ambassador Bolton’s mustache.”
Bolton struck me as surprisingly soft-spoken on two occasions we briefly met. But even if he is a human Vesuvius on duty, he performs vital work and has earned praise from colleagues and admirers overseas. Thus, the Senate should reconfirm him for service beyond his soon-expiring recess appointment.
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.
Bolton, in conjunction with French U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, led the Security Council to approve a unanimous resolution to end last summer’s Hezbollah war on Israel. While America should have encouraged Israel to erase Hezbollah once and for all, Bolton successfully executed his orders to stop the combat and authorize U.N. peacekeepers.
Bolton assembled an international coalition that blocked the bid of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s Marxist strongman, to join the Security Council. This anti-authoritarian alliance survived 47 ballots. An eventual compromise helped moderate, pro-American Panama fill that spot.
Bolton arranged the Security Council’s first deliberations on Burma’s human-rights abuses. “The time has come for the suffering of the Burmese people to end and for democratic change to begin,” Bolton said after the September 29 discussion.
Bolton properly belittled the new Human Rights Council, a forum where Cuba and Zimbabwe lecture civilized nations on how to treat their citizens. He compared this unit’s creation to “putting lipstick on a caterpillar and calling it a butterfly.”
Bolton invited actor George Clooney and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel to brief the Security Council last September on Arab mass-murder of non-Arabs in Darfur, Sudan. “Every day we delay only adds to the suffering of the Sudanese people and extends the genocide,” Bolton said. He engineered the Security Council’s approval of 22,500 U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur. Bolton continues to pressure Sudan’s government to accept these personnel atop the 7,000 African Union soldiers already on site.
Bolton persuaded the Security Council to pass a resolution denouncing Iran’s uranium enrichment program and demanding that Tehran halt its atomic hanky-panky.
Bolton, with the help of China’s and Japan’s ambassadors, negotiated unanimously adopted Security Council resolutions condemning North Korea’s July 4 missile test and penalizing its Columbus Day A-bomb blast.
Bolton has won plaudits from his peers.
“I enjoy working with him,” Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya told reporters November 14. “Professionally, he’s capable. He’s effective, but I don’t want to get into the politics of the U.S.”
“He is having a definite impact,” Romanian Ambassador Mihnea Motoc told the Los Angeles Times’ Maggie Farley. “Others wish they could do things the same way.”
“He has an agenda, and he’s pursuing it with a conviction that is uncommon here,” said Algerian Ambassador Abdallah Baali.
One secret of Bolton’s success may be “shot-clock diplomacy.” On February 22 and November 6, Bolton hosted Security Council field trips to Madison Square Garden to watch the New York Knicks.
“It’s fun for two or three hours,” Ambassador Wang told the Associated Press. “We think of nothing but sport.”
On a more serious note, Bolton, “the bully,” was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Per Ahlmark, Sweden’s former deputy prime minister and previous leader of its Liberal party, proposed Bolton (and journalist Kenneth Timmerman) for challenging Iran’s hunger for nukes. As Ahlmark explained in the February 7 Wall Street Journal, Bolton “has with unusual energy tried to find ways to counter this threat. Friends and foes agree — he never gives up.” In his January 15 official nomination letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Ahlmark added: “The danger is even more catastrophic as Iran is also a leading sponsor of international terrorism.”
Bolton, Ahlmark continued, “is also the father of the Proliferation Security Initiative, an international effort to interdict shipments of WMD components, materials and the ballistic missiles needed to deliver them.” PSI eventually discovered and disbanded rogue Pakistani scientist A. Q. Kahn’s atomic bazaar.
“I do not understand why most Democrats in the current and next Congress seem not to appreciate Bolton’s nomination,” Ahlmark told me. “I hope they will reconsider that after having studied Bolton’s impressive resistance to the Iranian nuclear project.”
No such luck. Democratic senators and GOP turncoat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island continue to block Bolton’s reconfirmation. President Bush should engage this issue fully by flying to the U.N., standing shoulder-to-shoulder with his ambassador, and declaring: “John Bolton has stymied despots, comforted potential genocide victims, and hindered Kim Jong Il’s and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s atomic ambitions. He toils from dawn to dusk to promote international peace and protect America’s national security. The Senate should send this man back to work.”
– Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. He recently collaborated on a Manhattan Institute book project.