Bush should acknowledge party unity on Bolton


Emerald editorial board

April 25, 2005

Last week, President Bush made an interesting request to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the group in charge of confirming his chosen U.N. ambassador, John Bolton: Bush asked the panel to “put aside politics,” indicating his opinion that a rejection of Bolton would simply be a factor of Democrats versus Republicans. However, in the case of Bolton’s confirmation, Bush is seriously mistaken. The problems with Bolton as potential ambassador to the United Nations are myriad, and they are being discussed by both Democrats and Republicans alike.

The first strike against Bolton is his widely published statement in which he was quoted as saying there is no such thing as the United Nations. No wonder members of the committee are reluctant to confirm this man; it’s a dangerous game to hire someone for the purpose of interacting with an organization that, in the person’s mind, may or may not exist. Can our nation expect that Bolton would be experienced or knowledgeable about the inner-workings of the United Nations with respect to his earlier comments on it?

Strike two is the disparity between Bolton’s qualifications and the needs of the job he is slated to fill. Issues of peacekeeping and worldwide diplomacy are especially important to the United States at a time when we have already alienated so many countries with cries of “with us or against us.” As ambassador to the United Nations, Bolton would be filling a primarily diplomatic job, yet Bolton’s personality and work tactics have been descried repeatedly as tough-minded and bullying. There is nothing wrong with politicians who stay firm to their beliefs, but in the case of a U.N. diplomat, it seems obvious that a bully is exactly what the United States does not need handling its international relations. Ex-State Department official Carl Ford has even testified that Bolton was abusive toward his junior staff.

Interestingly, Bush made a valid point when asking that party politics not come into play while the panel makes its decision. Unfortunately for Bush, some members of his own party are just as reluctant as Democrats to approve Bolton. The Senate Foreign Relations committee is made up of eight Democrats and 10 Republicans. As of now, at least one Republican had indicated he may side with Democrats and vote against the nomination of Bolton. After hearing witnesses called by committee Democrats, Republican Senator George Voinovich said he didn’t “feel comfortable about voting for Mr. Bolton.”

If disagreement over President Bush’s nomination of John Bolton has crossed party lines, chances are good there is a real issue here, not just another Republican/Democrat squabble. President Bush should recognize this fact. Instead of asking the parties to put aside politics, Bush needs to take a second glance at the surrounding political world and recognize that Bolton is not the best choice for ambassador to the United Nations. It is a diplomatic organization; if the United States hopes to maintain friendly ties with that organization and the countries involved in it, Bush must choose a different nominee.


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