Politics & Policy

Confirm Bolton

America needs John Bolton because the U.N. has to change.

John Bolton is exactly the right choice for our ambassador to the United Nations at this critical time in our nation’s history. He should be confirmed by the U.S. Senate without further delay.

At a time when Americans are facing serious threats to our security, the U.N. remains an uncertain instrument to help protect the safety of the American people and the safety and dignity of peoples worldwide.

America needs John Bolton because the U.N. has to change.

For those who are unconvinced that the U.N. is in need of a dramatic overhaul, consider the current situation.

Today, the civilized world is in the fourth year of a global war against committed ideological enemies bent on using terror. Thousands of innocents have been murdered and maimed in New York, Washington, Madrid, Beslan, Bali, Jerusalem, Baghdad, Istanbul, and many other cities. Ayman Al-Zawahir is explicit about al Qaeda’s “right to kill four million Americans—two million of them children–and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands.”

Yet, four years after 9/11, the U.N. General Assembly still has not reached agreement on something as basic to the war on terror as a comprehensive definition of terrorism.

At the same time, genocide continues unstopped in the Darfur region of Sudan ten years after the world vowed that Rwanda would be the last genocide.

Yet, Sudan is currently serving its second term on the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the very body whose responsibility it is to tell the world truths about governments that rape, torture, and murder their citizens. In today’s U.N., regimes with appalling, even monstrous, human-rights records–Sudan, Syria, Zimbabwe, Libya, and Cuba, to name a few–have been seated there.

If that were not enough, extraordinary institutional mismanagement is uncovered on an almost monthly basis at the U.N. Corruption in the Oil-for-Food Program in Iraq, sex crimes against innocent civilians involving U.N. peacekeepers in the Congo, internal sexual-harassment allegations at the U.N., and mass murder and an unacknowledged genocide in Darfur are evidence of a U.N. in need of dramatic reforms.

In light of these successive failures of an institution of which the United States contributes 22 percent of the budget, the American people should expect that the Senate would confirm someone who is dedicated to America’s interests and actually willing to fight for changes that will make the institution stronger, accountable, transparent, and more effective.

So what are some senators saying in opposition to John Bolton’s nomination? They are essentially saying that he is too blunt, too tough, and too demanding and that this combination of traits makes him ill-suited for the role of America’s chief diplomat at the U.N. because it may undermine our ability to foster international cooperation there.

Yet, if these attributes negatively affected Bolton’s ability to work with other countries, then why did Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praise his role in helping to “build a coalition of more than 60 countries to help combat the spread of WMD through the President’s Proliferation Security Initiative” and his “key diplomatic role in our sensitive negotiations with Libya when that nation made the wise choice to give up its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction?”

If Bolton were too blunt, too tough, and too demanding to be able to build international cooperation in support of American interests, then how was it that he successfully led the repeal in 1991 of the U.N.’s infamous “Zionism is Racism” resolution? It was an accomplishment that had escaped the talents of American diplomats for 15 years.

John Bolton will be unafraid to speak directly and clearly about America’s values and interests. Of course this will be seen by some as too blunt and too demanding. Yet, John Bolton is not likely to be seduced by the salons on Embassy Row. John Bolton’s opponents seem to be afraid that he will speak plainly about American values and interests within the hallways of the U.N., yet America’s U.N. ambassador must do exactly that, especially today.

In the world of high-stakes diplomacy, ambiguity is dangerous. This may seem obvious but for the United States to be effective in the world, it has to understand and communicate its interests clearly. John Bolton will not disguise or camouflage the president’s interests. With John Bolton, there will be no question where the United States stands, which will of course threaten the defenders of the status quo in the U.N.

Bolton, who has been working U.N. issues for many years, is a bold figure who has the intelligence, courage, and determination to try to make a real difference and would therefore be exactly the right U.N. ambassador at this time for American interests. He has been confirmed for senior government positions four times before. He has served in those posts with distinction during three administrations, untainted by even a hint of scandal.

If the American people are ever going to have any sense of reliance on the U.N., it will be because of straightforward and tough reformers like John Bolton demanding profound change.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”


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