Tough-Talking Bolton: Just What the UN Needs

By Prince, Cathryn J. | The Christian Science Monitor, March 1, 2005 | Go to article overview
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Tough-Talking Bolton: Just What the UN Needs


Prince, Cathryn J., The Christian Science Monitor


When President Bush nominated John Bolton to be US ambassador to the United Nations, many diplomats shuddered.

Apparently many of these diplomats, who raised questions about the appointment under cloak of anonymity in news reports, can't believe Mr. Bush would name someone who hasn't shown the UN any respect. Respect needs to be earned. And, since Kofi Annan became Secretary-General, the world body has been a breeding ground for scandal and ineptitude and has not earned that respect.

Mr. Bolton has worked in the State Department for the past 25 years. He has served as under secretary of State for arms control and international security affairs for the past four years. This is necessary expertise, given the state of world affairs.

However, some foreign leaders and some homegrown Democrats, such as Sen. John Kerry, have decided to read the appointment as White House contempt for multilateral organizations.

Yes, Bolton showed great disdain for the international body in 1994 when he told a group at the Federalist Society, "There is no such thing as the United Nations.... If the UN secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."

Perhaps these weren't the most eloquent words ever uttered by a diplomat, but make no mistake, there was truth in them.

On Mr. Annan's watch, peacekeepers have been involved in sexual and physical abuse, as well as sex trafficking of people they were charged with protecting. During Annan's tenure, corruption has festered in the corridors of the international palace, principally in the oil-for-food program in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Inaction in Srebrenica, Rwanda, and now Sudan and Congo have been par for the course.

Yet, despite these displays of ineptitude, much of the world has repeatedly absolved the UN. In fact, many countries have insisted on not taking action on world problems unless the UN first grants its blessing. Countries such as France and Germany are calling for sanctions in order to curb Iran's nuclear capabilities.

As the world now knows, UN-levied sanctions failed miserably at stopping North Korea from acquiring the means to produce nuclear weapons.

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