Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Multilateralism in peril...

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Here are some quotes I found on google from John Bolton, who George Bush recently appointed as US ambassador to the UN:

► "If I were redoing the Security Council today, I'd have one permanent member because that's the real reflection of the distribution of power in the world."

► "Diplomacy is not an end in itself if it does not advance U.S. interests."

► "There's no such thing as the United Nations. If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a
bit of difference."

► "Renouncing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court “was the happiest moment of my government service."

I'd also ask you to watch this video. It is from an anti-Bolton website, but, to be honest it is not edited down, and the political point is only made right at the end. It is a fairly accurate representation of Bolton's perspective on the role of the United Nations in the world.

Video: Bolton on the United Nations

It seems clear to me that Bolton's appointment is a statement of intent to undermine any role the United Nations plays that isn't politically compatible with the Bush Administration's world view. This is the man upon whose shoulders rests the initiative to resolve the Israel/Palestine conflict. The initiative to resolve Kashmir and the problems between India and Pakistan (which, incidentally, consolidate the presence of Islamic extremists in the Pakistani intelligence community, and makes it harder for Musharraf to confront terrorism). This is the man who is the US voice for confronting global warming. This is the man who will help chart the course of peace via diplomacy for the civilized world.

My political opposition to everything that John Bolton stands for is a mute point. What I find so sad is the way in which this recess appointment has been deceitfully justified upon the basis that Democrats were simply playing obstructionist politics. Is it really that difficult to fathom that Democrat's objections to Bolton are sincere. John Bolton undermines, with everything he stands for, the notion of a co-operative global community taking steps together to address global problems. He believes that the power of the United States endows it with the supreme responsibility of determining the political direction of the world community. The concept of a global community... the principle of nations coming together to act in the common interests of people everywhere... is now, sadly, in such grave peril. The United Nations has been caricatured into a two dimensional cartoon of fat cat bureacrats lining their pockets with backhanders from tyrannical dictators. The integrity of an institution where Adlai Stevenson confronted the Soviet Union about missiles in Cuba, and earned peace via the support of the international community... the institution where the state of Israel was established after the horror of WW2... has been cast aside as an emotional, abstract ideal.

The problem I have with Bolton right now isn't so much his appointment, it is the way Republican's have manipulated the situation to misrepresent Democratic objections. My belief in the importance of the integrity of our international institutions really does transcend my political affiliations. It's why, after all, I supported the Iraq war.

I'll leave the last word to Republican, Senator Voinovich:
"What message are we sending to the world community when in the same breath we have sought to appoint an ambassador to the United Nations who himself has been accused of being arrogant, of not listening to his friends, of acting unilaterally, of bullying those who do not have the ability to properly defend themselves?"

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Eban Crawford said...

Well, many of us, not just Right wingers find the U.N. a vile and corrupt group. Bolton could be just what is needed to confront this group of jokers. I say could because I am not 100% for his appointment. I am looking forward with interest.

As for the recess appointment, here is the record through Reagan.

--President George W. Bush: 110 recess appointments in 4 1/2 years in office.

--President Bill Clinton: 140 recess appointments in two terms.

--President Bush Senior: 77 recess appointments in his one term.

--President Ronald Reagan: 240 recess appointments in two terms.

Great blogging Graham, I just wanted to play a bit of devil's advocate. Sometimes the answers lie in the gray.

Have a great evening.

Graham said...

That's cool Eban. I like all the questioning possible. I believe in the U.N. mandate. I find the things Bolton said on that video terrifying. He's not discussing kicking the U.N. into gear, he's saying that the US and only the US sets the political agenda for the global community. I just find it so sad. I remember Nov 04' and how sad that day was for me... and I think it was because of things like this.

Yeah, the truth always lies in the gray, complicated inbetween.

Tam_Gu_Ja said...

I disagree with your assessment that the most disturbing aspect is how Republicans have twisted and spun Democratic objections. As an independant who pays attention, I'd call that par for the course on either side. Both parties are more involved in knee-jerk action against each other than true legislating on most days. I think that the scary part is Bolton in the UN. Despite the corruption and gross failures at nation-building, the UN is the only source of many critical efforts, including human rights issues that the US patently ignores. Bolton as a destructive ass-kicker in Korean politics is a good thing- at the UN he is potentially the loss of what little international credibility we have combined with the intent to destroy what good does come out of it all.

Graham said...

I agree with you, I'm just frustrated at the way the situation has been contextualized. The objections to Bolton were sincere and justified. And yet this recess appointment isn't really being scrutinized at all. "Those pesky obstructionist Democrats have been foiled," seems to be the common thread of the story.

Anonymous said...

Graham, if you want to post at blogtemps send me an email at enigma@blogtemps.com and I'll send you an invite. Just thought you might want to blog there also or double-post on blogtemps.

Graham said...

Hey Enigma,

Blog Temps is really looking awesome. It's come a long way in a short space of time. I'm very impressed and will start reading it more often.

Thanks for the offer to write but for now at least I just want to write exclusively on my blog. These are just my personal thoughts in my personal space so to speak, and it kinda feels good that way. I might feel differently about it in the future.

Keep up the good work :).

Anonymous said...


Graham said...

As an addendum to this post, I just wanted to give this link:

Astronauts witness environmental damage

I know it sounds so naive and trite, but the need for us to think of ourselves as a planet of nations is ever more pertinent. The recess appointment of Bolton simply states the intention of this administration to obstruct anything they don't agree with, and worse, obstruct any international intiative taken that doesn't originate from their politcal world view.

Jumpin' on the Bandwagon said...

Here is an interesting thought-

What good does it do to send a representative to the U.N. that could not pass the senate and cannot have his tenure extended?

All nations know that Bolton was 'given' the position by the president after failing to earn it the normal way.

The amount of influence the U.S. now has in the U.N. is much diminished.

I think this in itself says a lot about how the Bush administration thinks. I believe it says, "We aren't going to listen to you anymore, so who cares if you listen to us."

Very sad.

Graham said...

I think the Bush administration is reflective of the current state of politics. It doesn't occur to Bush, or most Republicans that people's concerns with Bolton were legitimate, and deserved to be taken seriously. They were merely reduced to obstructive partisanship which is garbage.

Just because Bush has the Presidency, and Republican's have both the Senate and House does not mean that Bush can do what he pleases. Otherwise what's the point of checks and balances at all? The opinions of others, especially when so staunch, don't represent political gridlock, they represent democracy, and they should be taken seriously as a consequence.

Will Roberts encounter the difficulties Bolton did? No way. I'm not saying I agree with his appointment personally, but, his nomination to the Supreme Court, inspite of everything, isn't anywhere near as insane as sending Bolton to the United Nations.

Very few things make me really feel aggrieved politically, but doing this is just plain sad for all of us really. Just watch that video in my post, and you realize that this is part of an objective to nullify the role the United Nations in the world, and in affect, destroy multilateralism. Destroy international efforts that don't originate in the United States. Why does it do this? Because it's our international institutions that really give the rest of the world a powerful voice when there is only one superpower.

08' can't come quick enough.

Argghhh, I wanna pull my hair out!!!

...have a shaved head though :(

insanehippie said...

John Bolton is the best thing to appear in the UN in years if not it's entire lifetime. He is the anti-bureaucrat. John Bolton is definately needed when you have a group overall that is willing to let everything slide, as long as it harms America and the West fighting terrorism, supporting the nation of Israel, and calling nations on their own BS.

"If I were redoing the Security Council today, I'd have one permanent member because that's the real reflection of the distribution of power in the world."
That's correct. America is the world's lone superpower. We didn't get to be the top through debate, compromise and flowery statements. Just as how the West didn't defeat Adolph Hitler's Naziism, and Joe Stalin's brand of vile Communism through treaties and agreements signed at Turtle Bay, New York City.

"Diplomacy is not an end in itself if it does not advance U.S. interests."
Since John Bolton is AMERICA's ambassador to the UN, if he supported anyone else's interests it should be grounds for dismissal. You wouldn't want Great Britains ambassador to constantly bend over backwards for France, Spain, Zimbabwe, Brazil or anyone else for that matter.

"There's no such thing as the United Nations. If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."
I think it would be better to just evict everyone from the UN and tell them to get their own building in Paris or Brussels, or even better, they should should open up a building in Syria or Iran since the UN has such a love affair with the terroristic Middle East.

"Renouncing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court “was the happiest moment of my government service."
The ICC has already been shown that it would be used by tin pot dictators to use its power to convict the West and America for rightfully policing the world. While any attempt to convict the tin pot dictators for sacrificing their own people for a grander palace would be shot down by the same UN.

I'd also ask you to watch this video. It is from an anti-Bolton website, but, to be honest it is not edited down, and the political point is only made right at the end. It is a fairly accurate representation of Bolton's perspective on the role of the United Nations in the world.

President Bush and many Americans don't like the UN, President Bush was re-elected in 2004, and as President, GWB can appoint anyone he wants. Since the Dems refuse to give him a yes or no vote, President Bush had every right to recess appoint John Bolton. The Dems and some RINO Republicans were too cowardly to allow a vote to take place because they would have lost, so instead they once again threaten to filibuster, and also there are too many cowardly Republicans who should be kicked out of office.

I'm very happy that John Bolton is in office. Give the UN hell, John!


insanehippie said...

Senator Voinovich is the same candyass who cried on the floor of the Senate. The "man" is a disgrace. I'm amazed you're even quoting him. I thought you were better than that.

I'll leave the last word to Republican, Senator Voinovich:

"What message are we sending to the world community when in the same breath we have sought to appoint an ambassador to the United Nations who himself has been accused of being arrogant, of not listening to his friends, of acting unilaterally, of bullying those who do not have the ability to properly defend themselves?"

Every adult has the ability to defend themselves either physically or in debates, if they refuse to do so, that is their own fault, and they should be called for what they are, cowards.

This also applies to grown men who cry on the Senate floor for the nomination of UN Ambassador Bolton.


Sobbing Senator Voinavich should be booted from office for having the emotianal stability of a five year old who didn't get his candy.

NYgirl said...

Graham, darling I adore you, but I have to diagree with you on this one. As Eban said, the UN is pretty darn corrupt & worse, useless. There is a genocide going on right now as I type & all the UN has been doing about it is issuing "strongly worded statments".

Also, the UN has representatives from North Korea, Iran & Zimbabway, palces that are hardly democratic. You can't possibly expect nations ruled by dictators to work to achieve democracy.

The UN puts the fox in charge of the chicken coop, that's my main gripe with it. Sorry for jumping in so late, had full plate to contend with the past few days :)

Graham said...

Hey NY Girl,

Awww :). U don't ever have to qualify anything to disagree with me. I enjoy the debate and am happy to hear different opinions. The U.N. maybe all kinds of things, but it is the institution via which the global community co-exists and co-operates. It is also an institution that is a lot more than the two dimensional charicature it is often reduced to. It is a symptom of peace in our time, nations operating together in their common interests to solve international problems. It is the means by which good can be done in the world. By which Israel was established after WW2, by which the Soviet Union was held to account for the Cuban Missile Crisis, etc

However, I do admit its failings. I wouldn't have supported the Iraq war if I didn't, nor military action in Bosnia, where, due to Russia's insistence on veto'ing in the Security Council, the U.N. was incapable of acting.

These failings don't define the United Nations. The dictatorships, and facists, and communist nations left on this earth don't define the United Nations. What defines the United Nations is that politics, diplomacy, and efforts to relieve the problems of individual human beings are the basis upon which nations come together and interact and move forward as a basic principle.

Whether we like it or not, we do all need each other in the world. Doesn't Iraq prove this?

Hey Jesse,

I'm a little tired after working all night so I'll go over your points properly when I wake up tomorrow. After all, I do enjoy our back and forths :).

I'm not asking Bolton to represent any other nation than the United States. My problem with Bolton stems from his general world view, the Bush Administration world view, one that Bolton has repeatedly articulated: that the international community, i.e. United Nations, should only act, or come together, or initiate policies, if they originate from the United States, or, and worse IMO, fit with what he and his political ilk consider to be in the US's best interests.

As I said in a previous post, our international institutions are the means by which every nation that isn't a superpower can act co-operatively and acquire a voice internationally. Yes, it is a principle that doesn't always equate to practical reality, however, it is the only principle via which anything can happen, anywhere in the world.

I love the United States with all of my soul, but, regardless of its position as a superpower it cannot single handedly deal with the world's problems, nor does it really feel inclined to. Will the U.S. on its own solve global warming, problems in Kashmir, or in Palestine... or terrorism for e.g. Unfortunately, an awful lot of initiative is taken BECAUSE of the vacuum left by this administration, unlike it's predecessor that brough such reknewed vigor to the IC. While Bush almost ignores the fate of Palestine and Israel, the situation in N.Ireland, Kashmir, Global Warming, amongst other issues, the rest of us are still trying to address these problems. And yet, according to Bolton we are wrong to do so, and more so foolish, because without the United States the UN is useless. Ironically, of course, the position Bolton advocates for America's role in the world demands that the UN can function and accomplish a great deal without an active, passionate US presence.

It isn't a matter of corrupt bureacrats. It is the message that has been sent to the rest of the world that their voice is ultimately irrelevant, that their position in the global community is irrelevant... Like I said, the situation just makes me sad and look forward with even greater anticipation for 2008.

In regards to people in the Congress throwing tantrums it isn't the point. The point is that this recess appointment doesn't do justice to sincere and passionate objections to Bolton being US Ambassador on both sides of the aisle. There is nothing cowardly about articulating the kinds of concerns I have, and many others have, about the viability of multilaterilism, and the importance of it as a force for peace. You may disagree with it, as I disagree with your position, but it isn't cowardly for people to do their duty and scrutinize this appointment. If anything is cowardly, it is to simply disregard those objections as partisan obstructionism, which they were not, smear them publically as party politics, and appoint Bolton dismissive of the entire process.

I guess I did answer your points in the end, anyway, lol :)

Take care Jessie

NYgirl said...

Thanks Graham :-)I most certainly agree that we do need each other & work together. However, I'm not sure how helpful the "dictator faction" is in terms of helping to bring democracy to the world & addressing things like Dafar & Zimbabwe & North Korea.

I suppose the gist of our disagreement is who defines the UN: the democracies or the dictatorships. Perhaps I am being overly misanthropic, but I believe that all too often, the dictators do define it.

Personally I would not object to an international organization made up of democracies, it is the presence of dictatorships, in key positions in the UN no less, that I object to & as the present composition of the UN is such, I do believe it should be dismantled.

Stacy said...

Putting Bolton in as UN ambassador was a big f*** you to the world. It will be amazing how much damage he can do to our already weakened credibility. After all, he helped orchestrate all the lies prior to the Iraq war and I think the UN will remember they were lied to about the necessity for war.

Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

Hey I 'm glad to see you have a political blog as well. I just noticed this when I clicked the link on the comment you left. It is hard to find blogs from people around my own age that are liberal in nature yet open to discourse. I read a few of them and I post on a few regularly though so I'm going to add this to my list.

The Bolten thing: The UN is corrupt beyond recognition to it's origin but adding Bolten to it at this time was a very large "fuck you" to the rest of the world and piled upon all the other FU'S that we have put out there over the last few years it was a questionable move. Bolten is very frightening, at least from my perspective, at this time.

I do however take issue at times with the rest of the globe and feel they also have to get look past their disdain for the US and some of our foreign policies in order to get one with it. We can be blamed for a lot of things but we can not be blamed for everything and they have to start taking responsibility. Thus far the responsibility is perceived as ours alone.

To not scrutinize is the easy way out.

Graham said...

I passionately agree with you lots about the kind of anti-american sentiment that predominates people's perspectives of the United States. We are all responsible... I just believe that the world can take more responsibility to address some of the problems we face if we fundamentally respect and cherish our international institutions, while recognizing their faults and seeking to correct them... instead of merely dismissing them as an irrelevancy.

Thanks for posting, Alice :). You have a cool blog.

Royce Ogle said...

By definition the job of Ambassador requires that the Ambassador seek to further the best interests of the soverign he or she represents,in this case, President George W. Bush and the United States of America.

Doom and gloom, things are terrible, the sky is falling, is the sorrowful cry of liberals. I'll bet you a cup of java, Bolton will prove to be good at his task and will be confirmed in '07.

History shows clearly that things are not usually as bad as Chris Matthews says.

Execellent writing Graham.

Graham said...

I definately agree that it is the role of an ambassador to further the interests of the particular nation that he represents. My objection to Bolton isn't because of his political designs... for being for pre-emptive military action, for wanting to fight the war on terror aggressively, or being for the Iraq war for instance (I agree with all those things).

My personal objection to Bolton is that he has sought in the past to undermine the role played by other nations representing the interests of their nations... by repeatedly stating their role is an irrelevance so long as their world view is not in keeping with his, or the administration. My objection is also to the fact that it is his intention to undermine co-operative intiatives to address global problems. Yes, it is the duty of all to reflect their nation's interests, but, there are instances where it is in all of our interests to work together to achieve something. For instance, global warming.

I also don't like the politics involved, dismissing people's concerns about Bolton as obstructionism on the part of congressional Democrats. That is disengenuous and demeans, whether you disagree with them or not, sincerely held beliefs that Bolton's appointment further damages the ability of the world to act together, multi-laterally. Hence, the tears of Senator Voinovich that Jesse reffered to above, which I have a great deal of empathy for.

Thanks for the compliment, Royce.