Monday, December 04, 2006

John Bolton Resigns

America's UN Ambassador, John Bolton, was never confirmed by the Senate. He was a slippery recess appointment made by Bush who knew he couldn't ram him through the Senate. Since his recess appointment was expiring, Bolton was up for nomination again but the votes were not there and should not have been there. Besides having an ultraconservative philosophy at odds with American values, John Bolton is an arrogant man and, like others in the Bush Administration, he has done damage to America's foreign policy.

There is a difference between arrogance and confidence. Someone who is arrogant believes everyone should yield to their natural superiority; many arrogant people believe rules do not apply to them and begin bending any existing rules they think are getting in their way. If things go wrong, the arrogant are quick to blame others; they can't possibly be the source of the problem. Someone who is confident believes they have the ability and qualifications to get a job done; they're capable of recognizing mistakes and correcting them. If someone is not merely confident, but truly knows what they're doing, they have little trouble working within the rules (for example, they don't blather about changing the law to bring out the military for a hurricane; they have the competence to utilize fully what resources they have).

Steve Soto of The Left Coaster has this to say about Bolton's resignation today:
There isn't anything wrong with a UN ambassador who is conservative, and thinks that the world body is of limited value and in need of reform. But Bolton's pre-appointment record indicated outright hostility and contempt towards the UN. He himself had a disregard for facts and used national security information to settle political scores and undermine his superiors while working at the State Department. And in the short time while he was at the UN, he seemed to undermine any attempt at collaborative work, thereby diminishing his chances to convince others that the United States was correct in its positions.

This may be exactly what the Cheney White House wanted, but that doesn't warrant keeping Bolton as an ineffective voice for the United States on the world stage.

Americans are finally realizing that what Cheney wants isn't necessarily what's good for America. And a president who repeatedly relies on his gut instincts despite repeated failures leaves much to be desired. Getting back to what I was saying above, one of the things we're learning about the Bush Administration is that arrogant people don't actually work well together.

Here's another perspective from Ian Williams of The Nation:
In a rare midterm election in which foreign policy was a major issue, it is not too much of a stretch to say that American voters put UN Ambassador John Bolton out of office. Bolton's resignation from his unconfirmed recess appointment at the UN removes the residual fear that the Bush team had something up its sleeve to bypass senatorial resistance to his confirmation. The White House had claimed the support of a bipartisan silent majority for his appointment--even though it was vociferous defections from GOP ranks that helped thwart his confirmation.

(snip)

...Bolton's most memorable "achievement" occurred while he was in charge of arms control at the State Department before moving to the UN. He was a major saboteur of Congressional efforts to improve and tighten the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. If these measures had been passed, countries would not have been able, as North Korea did, to drop out of the treaty after reaping its dual-use benefits, and the voluntary protocols on inspection that Iran stopped observing would have been compulsory.

However, his greatest legacy may be his semi-successful attempt to wreck the UN reform proposals last year. By introducing hundreds of unilateral amendments after long months of painstaking negotiations between the members, he certainly managed to destroy the efforts of Kofi Annan to persuade the Third World members that managerial reforms were not some form of American and Western plot. In fact, almost every public statement he made pretty much confirmed their suspicions.

Most Americans support the UN and a foreign policy that emphasizes international cooperation. Like all organizations, the UN needs some reforms, but it's been a mystery why Bush has pursued what, in essence, has been the long-standing anti-UN policies of The John Birch Society, an organization that even in the 1950s was recognized as ultraconservative and extremist. Will we see Bush changing his policies in the weeks to come? We'll see. But don't be surprised if he finally yields to the necessity to change even if he does so with much kicking, teeth-gnashing and screaming.

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