Friday, May 13, 2005
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My computer crashed while I was pecking out a long piece on Bolton, so I'll take that as a sign and keep this short.
I have written a top 10 list of reasons I do not believe Bolton should be confirmed (drafted in early April, before the revelations of intimidation of intelligence analysts) as well as a set of 10 things I believe are at stake in this fight.
Tonight I am going to address just one point: the claim that Bolton is the right man because the UN needs reform. The evidence most often pointed to in support of this contention relates to Bolton's role in securing the repeal of the UN's notorious Zionism is Racism resolution in 2001.
I do not minimize that achievement for a moment. It was extremely tough to accomplish and, as I address in a forthcoming article for Dissent magazine (out this summer), addressing Israel's situation at the UN is a key part of bringing the organization into the twenty-first century.
But the fact that Bolton could successfully quarterback the repeal campaign does not mean he'll be effective in building consensus around reform of the UN or on behalf of U.S. priorities like referring Iran or North Korea to the UN Security Council.
Although the resolution carried significant symbolic weight, the vast majority of UN Member States did not have a lot at stake in Zionism is Racism. It didn't affect their security or economic interests. Accordingly, an appeal to capitals pointing out that the resolution was counterproductive and that repeal was a high priority for the Administration brought about agreement in a matter in relatively short order. This was on the heels of a UN-backed US victory against Iraq in the Gulf War.
Coming to the UN now, Bolton would face a very different situation. Esteem for the US is at an all time low. The issues that have to be tackled - including bringing some integrity to the UN's human rights mechanisms and beefing up the organization's work on terrorism and non-proliferation - go to the core of many countries' immediate self-interests.
Reform of the UN cannot be achieved with a steamroller. I know this because I was hired in 1999 to work on a historic package of financial reforms at the organization, culminating in repayment of most of the back dues America owed to the world body. For details look here.
Getting the deal through required getting other UN members to absorb over $100 million in annual costs for the UN's regular and peacekeeping budget.
When I first began some colleagues advised that we would be able to ram this through simply by asserting that as the UN's largest contributor and most powerful member state, we were demanding the rate cut. That's how we started, in fact, making speeches laying out what we wanted in no uncertain terms.
But that strategy got us nowhere. Getting the reforms we wanted through required consensus among the entire UN membership (189 countries at the time) and the pushier we were about what we wanted, the more dug in they got.
We fairly quickly changed tacks, wrapping our reform proposals in a broader package of financial reforms that we could support through objective reasoning. We then went through an intensive process of negotiation, cajolery, threats, and mathematic calculations to put together a deal that everyone could support. I detail it all here.
The battle was costly and exhausting, and if there had been a short cut we would have taken it. But we got the reforms passed at the end of the day, as a result of patience, flexibility, and a willingness to listen to others and accommodate them insofar as possible without compromising our own core objectives.
Toughness is much needed in a UN ambassador. But its only one part of what it takes to be effective.posted by on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM
The issue is whether Bolton is an appropriate nomination for the Bush administration, not whether he is the right superman to single-handedly straighten out the U.N. President Bush determines what Bolton's tasks are at the U.N., and those might not include reform at all.
My personal opinion is that Bolton's major assignment is damage control - domestic political as well as diplomatic:
(a) administer aversion therapy to whoever the Bush administration decides are the major problem people at the U.N. as a means of somewhat restraining actions/statements there which are deemed inconvenient;
(b) give good sound bites to the Republican base, thereby indirectly helping raise GOP turnout and campaign funds and most importantly;
(c) take the heat off the Bush administration to do something actually effective about the U.N.
I would personally be thrilled if Bush has Bolton actually try to accomplish the latter because I think that is impossible, while an honest try will help convince the wavering that nothing will work and that the U.S. is better off dead and buried like the League of Nations. Which is what I really want.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
Ok, I know this is a total digression from the Bolton issue, but since the author brought it up, I'll go ahead and ask anyway. Why, exactly, is it so odious to draw a parallel between Zionism and racism? I realize the specific UN resolution that lumped them together was surrounded and permeated by virulent anti-Semitism, and as such deserved to be repealed. However, I'm talking about the conceptual parallel in general.
Zionism is, by definition, ethnic nationalism. As such, it is no less racist than the various ethnic nationlist movements that we regularly decry throughout the world. It is, in fact, the very kind of ethnic nationalism that the United States specifically turned away from as we created a melting pot to contrast Europe's petty divisions in the 19th and 20th centuries.
So why, then, is it so often taken for granted that equating Zionism with racism is wrong?posted by: Dave on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
Clicking through the "top 10" link recalls another reason that Bolton will be an effective reformer: in the 1990's, he was not squeemish about supporting the use of one of the few levers for reform we have - withholding of dues. It's clear that Bolton has a long track record of fighting for UN reform - and in many cases, successfully so.
Now, of course, if you click through the link, you'll see that Bolton's prior support for using our dues as a lever to force reform is somehow spun by Nossel as a reason NOT to support Bolton. But, of course, to do so, she has to resort to out-and-out lies. She writes "He doesn’t believe in paying U.S. dues to the UN." Utterly, utterly false. He believes in using all the leves at our disposal, including our dues, to force reform at the UN. But this is just another example of how the Bolton opponents - when faced with the absence of legitimate arguments against him - have simply resorted to lying. It really is a shame that we can't have a real discussion about the future of the UN without the left-wingers resorting to such childish tactics as character assassination and lying. But, unfortunately, that is the result of the degree of Bush-hatred the left has succumbed to.posted by: Alex on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
My personal opinion is that Bolton's major assignment is damage control
And Bolton's major effect will be damage creation. If it's damage control the administration wants, I've got a lovely azalea in my backyard that will be better at damage control than John Bolton. Plus it's pretty in the spring. I don't know how good it is at giving sound bites to the Republican base, but I'm sure we could hook it up to a speaker system to broadcast the party line.posted by: Doug on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
Some of the other points are interesting, too.
4. Denying confirmation would signal the world that the foreign policy opposition is alive and kicking. If they see an active progressive opposition, the world will continue to distinguish between their view of this Administration and their view of America at large. With Bush’s reelection and supposed mandate, the separation gets harder -- and more important -- to sustain.
Yeah, this is a reason for 'progressives' to oppose his nomination... but why would anyone else want to?
A question I would very much like to see answered: How does trying to give other nations reasons to distinguish between the Bush administration and America advance the national interest?
I know why it is in the interest of other governments to put off dealing with Bush... why are Americans trying to make it easier for them?posted by: rosignol on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
Fine, if one state that Zionism equal racism, then Arabism is also equal to racism too. It is the same concept. Of course the list would includes half of the UN, any country that is a nation-state. I have no problem with calling half the world racists, they are. But I have a problem with calling only one country racist. It is double standard.posted by: Minh-Duc on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
You should also consider that it is LUDICROUS to assert that Bolton is unqualified to be U.N. Ambassador. Not well qualified is one thing. A claim that he is unqualified is quite another. Making such an assertion has had a disastrous affect on your credibility.
I wasn't certain earlier if your blindness to the bloody obvious was due to overly fervent partisanship or ideology. At this point there is substantial evidence of the latter.
A President is entitled to his choices in major appointments, especially in national security ones, and U.N. Ambassador is one of the latter. The only exceptions are when the appointee is unqualified or has major personal issues (such as then Senator John Tower during the first Bush administration).
Nothing which has come out concerning Bolton remotely indicates either that he is unqualified or has such personal problems. It's all trivial bull****.
And you do not show any conception of a President's primacy in these matters. He determines what our policy towards the UN is. Bolton's job is to carry it out or resign if he disagrees with the policy.
Until we know what policy changes Bolton's appointment might signify, it is fatuous to say that he is unqualified to carry out any conceivable U.N. policy President Bush might have in mind for his second term.
Which establishes that your attack on Bolton is really about the fact that Bush is President.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
ooog, there is a whopper in my first post. Change the last sentence ending to "... and the U.S. is better off when the U.N. is dead and buried like the League of Nations."posted by: Tom Holsinger on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
Potentially relevant information:posted by: rosignol on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
Dems used Bolton as proxy to attack Bush Foreign Policy because they have no alternative of their own. Kerry's "I'll visit Paris" trumped by Rice visiting Paris. If that's all your foreign policy amounts too, it's easy to trump.
So instead we get the Bolton is a nasty guy arguement because the party has nothing else to say.
Bolton very effective. He got the Zionism = Racism removed... he was effective getting Libya to fess up. The problem is Bolton is effective and it's the policies Dems are opposed too. There just a little ashamed about it and can't frame an alternative.posted by: Bill Baar on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
If you want reform, cut off the money. In the big picture Bolton doesn't matter.
And why not move the headquaters to, say, Paris? Let the bureaucrats sponge off someone else for awhile.posted by: Tom E on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
It wouldn't be nearly as easy for the NSA to bug if it was in Paris. In NYC, (government official) makes a phone call and the relevant telco switch is configured accordingly- you don't even need to install a hardware tap someone might find. In Paris, it wouldn't be nearly as easy... for us, at least.
I have doubts about the usefulness of the UN, to put it mildly. I have no doubts about the usefulness of keeping an eye on what goes on in that place.posted by: rosignol on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
Your making the assumption that "being pushy" is the only tactic Bolton knows and uses.posted by: aaron on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
YOU'RE making the assuption...
Sorry about the poor typing.posted by: aaron on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
Look, let's call this resistance to Bolton going to the UN what it is; A political game, called 'stall and smear'... a game the Democrats have done rather well with over the years. That party trick has lost it's glow, however, in the last few decdes... a point which was revealed in particularly pronounced fashion in 2000 and 2004.
This is not an argument about Bolton's qualifications, since no serious arguments about these have been brought to the table. The biggest argument that the objectors to Bolton can find is that he's got sharp elbows. This has proven ineffective because the majority think the UN has become, alternately, useless, and worse than useless, and who think that sharp elbows are just the thing.
In the end, Bolton's nomination and ultimate confirmation... which, as I gather it, will come after the first of the month, now... comes down to an argument between those who think the United Nations needs reforming... and those who think the United STATES is the one needing the reforms. And the majority... dare I say this... the VAST majority think that the UN is the issue.
Of course he's quoted as saying, "If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a difference."
You can understand, I guess, how someone who thinks the UN is fine, and all is hunky-dory... that the UN is providing a public service.... and the Oil for Food Scanadal was all the fault of the US, would consider that statement to be incendiary. But you'd need to be in a serious state of recto-cranial inversion to say that, much less believe it.
Since I've already brought it up, let's talk about "oil for food" as an example;
Here we have a group of people at Turtle Bay, robbing the starving people of Iraq of on the order of $10 billion, and tossing up roadblocks to upstart nations like he US who come in to among other things, rectify that situation.
Elsewhere, we see millions dying in the Sudan and in Zimbabwe.. and the supposed "Human rights watchdog" does nothing. What can be said of an org where the worst of the worst in terms of human rights violations...China, Cuba, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, and the afore-mentioned Sudan and Zimbabwe, hold postions on the UN's Human Rights commission?
Some watchdog, eh? See also, Weasel, Chicken Coup.
So what are those working against Bolton actually working FOR? Well, I think it clear that they're working to the end that the UN will continue on the path it's been on for the last 40 years. No change. Status quo. The people they're trusted to help won't get any... the people with offices at the UN building will continue to rake in billions to their own pockets, and the US will get the blame for all of it.
Support of this status quo, has become a partisan battle. Shouldn't be, but it is.
Well, notice, please, who it is who are working against Bolton. Career Dimplomats... and One- worlder Soclaist Democrats. People who have, over the years, gained much position and power though the UN. And in the case of the Democrats, people who see their one-world political views only comming to fruition though a central world power like the UN. As a particualrly bald example, notice that Bolton considers the communists in Cuba a terrorist threat to the US, while the Democrats in the Senate want us to normalize realtions with Castro and his band of thugs.
It's not hard at all to see why such people object to Bolton. But my freinds, by their flimsy, paper thin arguments, ye shall know them.
And remember the simple truth....Cockroachs always run from the light.
Blame Bolton for saying some things that people don't like, or blame Bush for not anticipating that there would be partisan contention if he didn't nominate someone his opposition wanted, if you want. But I don't see Bolton or Bush's nomination as big drivers of damaging anti-Americanism. I see the partisan contention as the big provider of the fuel, the rhetorical tools and validation, for anti-Americanism.posted by: aaron on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
The problem here is that I dont know what to believe about Bolton. The Democrats have cried wolf on so many of Bush's appointments and allies that its just hard to take them seriously. Is Bush really constantly appointing 'extremists'? Lets make a little list off the top of my head of Bush people the Dems had big problems with:
Dick Cheney (Halliburton), Don Rumsfeld (cant get along with Pentagon), John Ashcroft (too many to name), Alberto Gonzalez (torture advocate), Paul Wolfowitz (pointman for the neocon cabal), Gale Norton (business loving extremist pollution advocate), Condi Rice (never could figure what the complaints were, except that she was a black woman and not a democrat), John Snow (hates old people), John Bolton (too mean), and a whole bunch of judges with excellent qualifications.
Now maybe some of these were such bad choices they should have been opposed. But all of them? I gotta tell, from what i know of most of these people, they are conservative yes, but not extremists. Lets get down to brass tacks, is the president really throwing the bombthrowers of the reactionary right into positions of power, or have democratics simply decided that mainstream conservatives need not apply? The latter seems a heck of a lot more likely.
gotta tell, from what i know of most of these people, they are conservative yes, but not extremists
Don't you know anyone to the right of Fidel Castro is an extremist? You're clearly not reading your NYT... better get busy. You've got catching up to do.posted by: bithead on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
Lets get down to brass tacks, is the president really throwing the bombthrowers of the reactionary right into positions of power,
No. The reactionary right is Buchanan and his paleocon ilk, and they're not happy with Bush. Wilsonian nation-building has never been their thing, and Bush is doing it in not one, but two countries, and making a joke of 'fiscal conservatism' in the process. As near as I can tell, his only redeeming quality in their eyes is that he irritates the Democrats even more.
or have democratics simply decided that mainstream conservatives need not apply?
Looks to me like Democrats have decided that they're going to fight everything Bush does and hope he becomes the lame duck they want him to be.
You'd think that after 4 years, they'd know better.
You dont think Republicans are going to be in payback mode when the next Dem gets elected?
I think that if Bush turns out to be right on the middle eastern democracy thing, it could be a while before there's a Democrat in the White House for Republicans to pay back...posted by: rosignol on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
Rosignol, you're making the assumption that republicans won't fly off the handle and become more detached and obnoxious than the democrats.posted by: aaron on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
Good point. I see another 3rd party spoiler in the not to distant future.posted by: Mark Buehner on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
The Republicans control majorites in both chambers of Congress, but not by an overwhelming margin, which moderates what they can or can't do. The guys out on the fringes would be making very different demands if there was an 80-seat majority in the House and 60 Republicans in the Senate... as-is, party discipline is what's holding things together, and Bush can't push too hard without risking payback.
I think this is exactly the point of what the Democrats are trying to do- get Bush to lean on Congressional Republicans until they get pissed off and start asserting their independence.posted by: rosignol on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
"Why, exactly, is it so odious to draw a parallel between Zionism and racism?"
Dave, see below, judge for yourself. Many in Europe believe this to an obvious truth. Laura Rozen was recently accused of racism by some of the European readers of the Political Animal blog because she opined and extolled the works of a Jewish author in southern France.
Basically, Zionism at its heart is a European phenomena, driven by the belief that Western culture with its advanced technology is vastly superior to Arabic culture that was 500 years behind. "Economically superior" was the phrase often used to describe this by Zionists.
Since so much of European culture and recent history is predicated on this concept and on racism in general it is hard to "judge lest ye be judged".
However, when these attitudes directly affect our national security and interests it is hard not to pay attention to its excesses.
Reflections By An
"The same process also affected our uprootedness or ambiguous positioning within Israel itself, where we have been systematically discriminated against by institutions that deployed their energies and material to the consistent advantage of European Jews and to the consistent disadvantage of Oriental Jews. Even our physiognomies betray us, leading to internalized colonialism or physical misperception. Sephardic Oriental women often dye their dark hair blond, while the men have more than once been arrested or beaten when mistaken for Palestinians. What for Ashkenazi immigrants from Russian and Poland was a social aliya (literally "ascent") was for Oriental Sephardic Jews a yerida ("descent"). "
I'm still waiting to hear someone address the obviously unenthusiastic responses to Bolton by Republican Senators. It seems plain that the Democrats are not the only ones expressing concern about Bolton. As long as we're accusing people of "block voting" here's a question: If Republican Senators could cast their confermation votes free from political pressure to toe the party line, how many would vote for Bolton?
Are Democrats trying to wound the President? Of course that's part of it. That's what politics is now, and that's what it was when Clinton was in office. But I do think there is an obvious difference between voting against a candidate outright simply because of their politics, and the Bolton case. Step back from the partisanship, be honest with yourself; this guy just plain sucks.
Zionism is the belief that Jews should form a state. Not necessarily in the Middle East, nor Uganda, nor Madagascar.
How's that racist again?posted by: Cutler on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
Actually scratch it, you're right, Zionism has now taken a new context. It's original context had little to do with the Middle East, the early Zionists neogiated with the British for lands in Uganda for example. However, I see modern dictionaries transpose the Middle Eastern fixation on it. I'd quibble with that revision of history, but I'll grant it.
Still nothing worthy of condemnation by the UN imo, there's nothing special about Jewish nationalism.posted by: Cutler on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
I'm obviously confusing plain Jewish nationalism with Zionism [Mount Zion]. Don't mind me.
Oh well, at least I can admit an error. ;)posted by: Cutler on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
EPMason, I don't know if he sucks or not. I really don't. But I do think that considering the job in question is an executive branch position, it is reasonable for the President to appoint someone who's views are compatible with the President's.
Here's my question for you: If Democratic Senators could cast their confirmation votes free from political pressure to wound the President, how many would vote against Bolton?
As you said, step back from the partisanship, be honest with yourself. This isn't a judge up for a lifetime appointment. What justifies fighting this much to prevent an executive-branch appointment that will last less than 4 years? And if he *is* so bad that fighting this hard is appropriate... why wasn't he fired from the State department years ago?posted by: rosignol on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
I would like to post an extended blog response to the situation based on extended research.
BOLTON = ZIONAZI (neocon) POISON.
I am a retired associate professor of philosophy (SUNY Binghamton), and view the Bolton matter as a geo-metaphysical crisis -- whether America can escape civil war resting on the outcome.
If I am permitted to post (it is an extended piece, just finished), I will cite this site at
This is of over-riding importance.posted by: Sid Thomas on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
Not receiving a reply, I am posting some major content from the OD forum link.
No Bolton. No way in hell.
Bolton = Zionazi (neocon) Poison
--- dedicated by James Baker III and Ed Meese to the service of Zionnuts (worse than Catholic Nazis)
1. BOLTON’S APPOINTMENT WOULD HEIGHTEN NATIONAL INSECURITY
The New York Times’ editors certify that “senate committee hearings exhaustively document” John Bolton’s “habit of trying to force intelligence analysts to conform to his ideological preconceptions and then trying to punish them when they refuse to comply” (May 13). However, rather than spelling out the implications of having someone with these habits addressing the UN for the U.S., the editors segue to an even more eye-popping admission. “That Mr. Bolton did not succeed in taking revenge is no comfort – only a sign that he did not wield as much power as other officials who did manage to skew intelligence reports to suit an ideological agenda.” In other words, they are stipulating “we know that others, as well as himself, fixed intelligence to fit pre-determined policy; he got pinched and they didn’t only because he lacked their power to cover up.”
These are amazing admissions. The fact that they are not taken to add up to a thunderous disqualification, of him and them as well, indicates confusion, cowardice, cronyism or, at worst, conspiracy. :
2. THE SPECIFIC THREAT RAISED WOULD BE BIO-CHEMICAL (POISON) ATTACK
Several circumstances link Bolton to heightening threat of bio-chemical -- generically referred to here as poison – attack.
First, Wednesday, as the Senate sub-committee on foreign relations was set to vote next day, a stray plane wandered accidentally, it was said, into Washington D.C. airspace, with federal buildings clamorously evacuated. Michael Chertoff, newly appointed head of Homelad Security appeared in charge of national security (the President’s phone was unplugged, it was announded.) Asked why the disruptive and clamorous evacuation was order if it was determined early on the tiny Cessna airplane was merely off course, a spokesman replied it was a post 911 precaution in case it was carrying biological or chemical weapons, which took time to determine.
One kind of data Bolton is certified to have skewed was poison threats by Cuba. This shows willingness to act with the paranoids – arming delusionally arming enemies in order to defend heroically against them. Fingers like his on the trigger Wednesday might well cause massive irreparable damage.
In connection with the disastrous Cuba Bay of Pigs fiasco, it has just come to light that the CIA had, in fact, drawn up a 911- type scenario to justify attacking.
For those unfamiliar with it, here is an example of a pre-9/11 plan to
The fact that such a criminal enormity as this could occur, as a kind of thinking, or mentality, staggering any sane imagination.
This is easily recognized as the last step in a psychological process deteriorating to pure psychosis. Such a mentality has gone beyond the point of being able to stop itself, but must interpret every attempt to confront it as “evil”, “treason”, proceeding from “terrorist enemy”. They must bully or cajole whoever is reluctant to go along – or else provoke them to attack, providing them with an excuse to kill. And that is how they think to get by; indeed, how they MUST think to get by, now, having come so far and put all their historical chips in the pot.
James Baker III and Ed Meese III, in a New York Times op-ed article, refer to Bolton’s success in getting the UN General Assembly to reverse its “Zionism was a form of racism” dictum as “the clear articulation of the philosophical position of the United States.” (May 11. ’05)
TO THE CONTRARY !! BE IT KNOWN FROM THENCEFORTH FORWARD
THAT: NO SUCH THING AS “THE PHILOSOPHICAL POSITION OF THE UNITED STATES” RELATING TO ZIONISM, OR FOREIGN POLICIES TOWARD ZIONIST ISRAEL EXISTS.
THAT: IF THERE WERE, IT WOULD BE THE OPPOSITE OF THEIR POSITION, IF RATIONAL (see below)
THAT: THE FACT THAT BAKER AND MEESE PUBLICALY STIPULATE TO THIS FALSEHOOD, SENDS A SIGNAL THAT BOLTON WILL PRESS POLICY BASED ON THIS LOATHSOM PHILOSOPHICAL ABSURDITY ON THE UN.
And THAT is unacceptable. In fact, since it amounts to hi-jacking the government, turning its offices over to the use of a foreign power and ideology, it is grounds for charging all who are connected with his promotion with high treason.
The alternative, now that what and who he represents has become known, is to accept as an accomplished fact a situation was, and is, knowingly devised to manipulate, deceive, contradict every value bred into the America spirit; and intimidate with threats of violence whoever speaks the truth. .
4. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR BOLTON TO REPRESENT AMERICA.
posted by: Sid Thomas on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
(yes, it is relevant to the thread)posted by: rosignol on 05.13.05 at 12:02 AM [permalink]
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