A Conservative At The UN
-- When the American Conservative Union (ACU) celebrated its 40th
anniversary last May with a black-tie dinner at Washington's J.W.
Marriott Hotel, the dais was filled with assorted right-wing activists
-- plus one diplomat. It was John Bolton, under secretary of state
for arms control and international security whose nomination last
week as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations shocked the liberal
foreign policy establishment.
The ACU is
respectable enough to have been addressed that evening by President
George W. Bush. But Bolton was the first diplomat ever seated
at the organization's head table. He is the first U.S. senior
diplomat called a "movement conservative" (who, furthermore,
was close to Sen. Jesse Helms). That is why his UN nomination
created consternation on one side of the ideological divide and
delight on the other side.
critics in the Foreign Service had hopes he would be swept out
of Foggy Bottom in Bush's second-term changing of the guard. That
he instead was nominated for the world's most visible diplomatic
post suggests the president means business in confronting the
UN's corruption. It also confirms that Bush is properly attuned
to his conservative base.
It is no
secret that Bolton had his eye on becoming deputy secretary of
state and was strongly supported for that post by conservatives.
But newly installed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wanted
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick as her deputy, and got
him. At that point, conservative leaders who were instrumental
in re-electing Bush informed White House political chief Karl
Rove that a place must be found for Bolton (who was a valuable
Bush lawyer in the 2000 Florida vote count).
spread by Bolton's foes in the State Department is that Rove then
forced Rice into giving Bolton the UN portfolio. The truth is
the reverse of that. It was the secretary of state who first suggested
the new assignment for Bolton. That would put somebody at UN in
the tradition of Pat Moynihan and Jeane Kirkpatrick, who had zero
tolerance for the hypocrisy rampant at the world organization.
with Bush's preceding UN ambassador, former Sen. John Danforth
-- a favorite of the media and the liberal establishment. Danforth's
vote of confidence in UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in the Iraq
oil-for-food scandal was not authorized by then Secretary of State
Colin Powell and in fact ran counter to administration policy.
Before resigning after only seven months on the job, Danforth
told old Senate colleagues that this administration does not take
the UN seriously.
more accurately reflects the administration's mindset than Danforth,
he has not approved of every administration policy. What is inconceivable,
however, is that he would go off on his own as Danforth did.
nomination, commentators incorrectly identified him as a "neo-conservative."
If a neo-conservative (in Irving Kristol's phrase) is "a
liberal mugged by reality," Bolton does not qualify. He came
to Washington 31 years ago, as an intern for Vice President Spiro
T. Agnew out of Yale Law School (where he was a protege of Alexander
Bickel). He was hired by conservative Agnew aide David Keene,
who became Bolton's friend and longtime ACU chairman.
himself apart from other interns in a legendary episode when White
House aide John Ehrlichman gave a farewell speech urging interns
to work on the 1972 re-election campaign. Bolton raised his hand
and asked: "How can I work for Nixon's election when I'm
not even sure I'll vote for him?"
a neo-conservative means embracing a Wilsonian vision of bringing
democracy to the world, Bolton is surely not one. He may be the
last important foe of nation-building inside the administration
and would like to get out of Iraq quickly.
Bolton so unpopular with the Foreign Service is that he agrees
with his diplomatic mentor, James A. Baker III, that the secretary
of state ought to represent the president in the State Department
rather than represent the State Department in the White House.
His long government experience and excellent performance the past
four years in dealing with nuclear proliferation from North Korea
to Iran means nothing to the liberal establishment, which frets
about his presence on the ACU dais.
2005 Creators Syndicate
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