Senate Narrowly Confirms Bolton to Top Arms Control Post
Bleek, Philipp C., Arms Control Today
BY A VOTE of 57-43, the Senate confirmed controversial nominee John Bolton as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security on May 8. Bolton's confirmation to the most senior administration post specifically tasked with the formulation of arms control policy was opposed by all but seven Democratic senators.
During the confirmation process, Bolton came under fire for views he articulated while serving as senior vice president of the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Bolton has called the United Nations ineffective and been generally dismissive of multilateralism. He has also called for full diplomatic recognition of Taiwan and spoken out against the "illusionary protections of unenforceable treaties," referring to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
At Bolton's March 29 confirmation hearing, Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) stated that the "inflammatory rhetoric" Bolton had displayed gave him "pause over [Bolton's] capacity for handling the job."
Biden said, "I have always voted against nominees who oppose the avowed purpose of the position to which they have been nominated." Senator John Kerry (D-MA) agreed, saying the nominee's views on arms control issues were "inconsistent with the best interests of the United States."
However, Senator Jesse Helms (RNC), then chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, effusively praised Bolton as the "most qualified man for the job" and as "the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon."
Eschewing his past provocative language, Bolton downplayed the concerns raised by Democratic senators at his confirmation hearing and said little of substance on the most controversial issues. …