Modern history provides examples of what occurs when determined visionaries work together to confront hate-filled tyrannies and intolerance. Recent examples include the Roosevelt-Churchill alliance against Nazism, Reagan-Thatcher efforts to win the Cold War with the fall of the Soviet empire, and the current global coalition against terrorism.
Presently, the United States, our partners throughout the world, and the U.S. Senate are well positioned to write another page in the history of cooperative global change: Not since 1945 has there been a more promising time than the present to make the United Nations into the useful organization that was desired by the framers of its charter.
There is a historic opportunity for change today because determined visionaries–President Bush, Secretary of State Rice, and U.N. ambassador-designate John Bolton–are prepared to work with Congress and the United Nations to achieve it.
From the wreckage of the scandalous Oil-for-Food Program, Secretary-General Annan has emerged with a defensible U.N. reform proposal. Though far from ideal from the U.S. perspective, the secretary-general’s approach to (among other things) peacekeeping, terrorism, and shocking U.N. precedents that allow dictators to chair U.N. bodies merits serious consideration. Reform is vitally important, and John Bolton, the current undersecretary of state for arms control, is the right man to lead U.S. efforts to consider such reforms.
John Bolton’s distinguished service on the frontline of U.S. foreign policy confirms an observation made by former Secretary of State Colin Powell: “Diplomacy is not a priesthood.” Bolton is not a member of our distinguished foreign service, but he stands head and shoulders above nearly all living Americans in his grasp of law, international relations, and national security.
Bolton’s knowledge of the United Nations system is encyclopedic. Those who attack his nomination by selectively citing his past remarks about that troubled organization are overwhelmed by evidence confirming his mastery of diplomacy and U.N. affairs.
Critics of Bolton’s nomination to be U.N. ambassador must also ignore overwhelming proof of his vision. Two areas in particular–North Korea and counter-proliferation–demonstrate how Bolton’s influence on U.S. policy promises enormous dividends.
The elimination of North Korea’s nuclear threat still requires much hard work, but it is clear that the half-century stalemate that allowed Pyongyang to steal or develop nuclear-arms technology is over. Growing pressure on the dictatorship, and Bolton’s role at the State Department in creating it, are confirmed by the torrent of personal invective directed at him from Pyongyang.
Bolton also helped break a long international silence about the suffering of the North Korean people. For too long, savage conditions condemned by food-aid workers and glimpsed by other visitors to the North received scant attention around the world. By magnifying the human dimension of the North Korean problem, Bolton’s work may hasten the day when the abhorrent human-rights violations in North Korea will end.
On counter-proliferation, Bolton’s efforts gave life and meaning to the president’s Proliferation Security Initiative. Under Bolton’s leadership a dangerous gap in counter-proliferation enforcement on the seas has been filled by international cooperation and information-sharing.
In 1945, when it reported the U.N. Charter to the Senate for ratification, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote that “…neither this Charter nor any other document or formula that might be devised can prevent war… The establishment of the United Nations will at best be a beginning toward the creation of those conditions of stability throughout the world which will foster peace and security.” (I would add human freedom.)
As we know, the United Nations has fallen short of these expectations. But a better, more accountable United Nations may better serve U.S. interests. Thus, the Bolton nomination offers the Senate an opportunity to play a historic role in bringing sensible reform to the U.N. It is worth the effort. John Bolton is the perfect person to advocate our principles. He will not be seduced by empty, meaningless, courteous pontifications of international bureaucracies.
I don’t think American taxpayers are half as concerned about Bolton’s past e-mails and personnel decisions at the State Department as the Senate Democrats proved to be on the first day of his confirmation hearing. I think the American people are pondering more important questions. They are wondering what’s going on with the tax dollars they are putting into the U.N. They’re wondering whether the U.N. is helpful in the advancement of freedom and justice. And they’re wondering whether it can be made into a relevant organization again.
John Bolton will bring much-needed reform and accountability to a U.N. that is in dire need of such to regain credibility. Bolton is a superb diplomat, a man of vision, and an integral part of an administration team that has proved its readiness to foster positive global change. The Senate should confirm him as U.N. ambassador without delay, and move quickly to work with him on meaningful U.N. reform.
–George Allen (R.) is a United States senator from Virginia.