05/05/05 — Too brash? Senate should approve tough-talking diplomat

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Too brash? Senate should approve tough-talking diplomat

President Bush sees serious problems in the United Nations and he thinks it needs to be reformed. He believes the best person to represent the United States in the U.N. is John Bolton.

Bolton is a tough-talking critic of the U.N. His opinion is underpinned by a career that has provided him with a clear perspective of the world body.

He currently is undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. He has been assistant secretary for international organization affairs. He has also been assistant administrator and general counsel for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

It is a career that has qualified Bolton uniquely for the position of ambassador to the United Nations.

Moreover, his opinion of the U.N. is perfectly in line with the president’s. Both of them, like many other Americans, are frustrated by the way things have been going in the United Nations in recent years. Key among their frustrations are the corruption in the Oil for Food program and the sex scandal involving U.N. officials in destitute countries.

Those are key concerns, but they are only starters. Bolton’s severe criticism of the U.N. has been justified.

The president has a right — a responsibility, actually — to select the ambassador that he feels can best represent our interests in the U.N. Unfortunately, liberal senators are doing their best to derail Bolton.

The Senate has a responsibility to advise and consent in Bolton’s appointment, but what is happening with this nomination is more than advice and consent. It is more like character assassination committed with the intent of embarrassing the administration.

There is no question of Bolton’s qualifications. His opponents are now focusing on what they call his “temperament.” He is sometimes unkind toward people who work under him, they say, and his language is sometimes undiplomatic.

In the workplace department, his chief accuser is anti-Bush activist Melody Townsel. She worked with Bolton at a company with which Bolton was involved between stints of government service. Her accusations have been contradicted by the president of the company, who happens to be a donor to the Democratic Party.

As for Bolton’s brashness, his opponents cite, among other things, his reference to Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s tyrannical dictator, as a tyrannical dictator. Many people believe that, in the world of diplomacy, the fact that a person is a tyrannical dictator should be softpedaled. It would be refreshing to have an ambassador as frank-speaking as John Bolton.

But that is not why his nomination should be confirmed. It should be confirmed because he is qualified and he is the person that the president wants for the job.

Published in Editorials on May 5, 2005 12:05 PM