Tuesday, March 8, 2005

A Little Present for the UN's Punchbowl

The lefties are all a-twitter about President Bush’s latest appointment – that of John Bolton to be Ambassador to the United Nations. Former presidential candidate and senator John Kerry (D. France) reminds us why we sent him back to the minor leagues last November by telling us the appointment’s “…just about the most inexplicable appointment the President could make to represent the United States to the world community.” Gee, Monseigneur le Senateur, guess he doesn’t pass the “global test” eh ?

The appointment is “inexplicable” to lefties like Kerry because, unlike that gentleman, Mr. Bolton has been on the right – that is, American – side of all the major foreign policy issues of the day since Vietnam. According to Fred Kaplan over at Slate, the President’s message to the UN is to “drop dead.” Mr. Kaplan characterizes Mr. Bolton, (presently the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security), as Vice-President Cheney’s “agent” at the State Department “…monitoring, opposing, and, to the extent possible, thwarting from within the moderating influence of Secretary Colin Powell and his crew of pin-striped diplomats.” Well, thank God: the State Department’s institutional first impulse is always to surrender everything, like the pigs negotiating with the cook on the size of the cauldron.

Mr. Kaplan’s analysis is worth reading, and, in general, spot on, if you buy the whole concept behind the UN. The difference between Mr. Kaplan's view and my own is that I think the UN, as an institution, is positively dangerous to American interests. The UN is a forum that gives disproportionate power to small states, that allows them to use the media and other institutions of great powers as fulcrums against the interests of those same countries: in effect, using the weight of the US against itself. The US is far better served by the traditional system of bilateral relations among states.
Mr. Kaplan, a believer in the UN, and international law as it has developed since 1918, thinks Mr. Bolton’s appointment is a disaster, because, inter alia, Mr. Bolton “virulently opposes the institution to which he’ll be posted” and because Mr. Bolton opposed the ABM treaty, the nuclear test ban and “any accord that limited anything the United States might someday want to do.” Maybe this last is why El Jefe sees the same set of facts as Mr. Kaplan and thinks not disaster, but “jim crackin dandy.”

As I’ve said before, It is quite enough, thank you, that we pay for the United Nations -- it’s absurd that we should actually have to pay attention to it. Mr. Bolton’s appointment, in the Wall Street Journal’s phrase is a little “tough love” for the UN. Not before time.

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