- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2001

Seven Senate Democrats broke party ranks yesterday to confirm John Bolton as the Bush administrations arms-control czar in the most contentious confirmation battle since that of Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Democrats mustered 43 votes against Mr. Bolton, an outspoken critic of past arms-reductions accords, one more than the number who opposed Mr. Ashcroft and the highest negative tally yet against one of President Bushs nominees.
All 50 Senate Republicans voted to confirm Mr. Bolton as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, as did Democratic Sens. John B. Breaux and Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Evan Bayh of Indiana, Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, Zell Miller of Georgia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
Mr. Bolton served in the Reagan administrations Justice Department and in the State Department under Mr. Bushs father.
Conservative lawmakers hailed the Bolton nomination as proof the Bush administration would adopt a new approach to arms control, taking a more skeptical view of multilateral treaties and organizations than the Clinton administration.
Mr. Bolton, who most recently worked at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) as a foreign policy scholar, has the "courage of his convictions," said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican.
Mr. Helms noted that Mr. Boltons nomination had been backed by four previous arms-control agency chiefs and by three former secretaries of state: Henry Kissinger, James A. Baker III and Lawrence Eagleburger.
"I think there are some who dont like this nominee because he will capably implement President Bushs own policies," Mr. Helms said.
But Democrats in the four hours of Senate debate Monday and yesterday said a nominee who hailed the 1999 rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and favors a U.S. missile defense plan even if it conflicts with the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty should not be given the governments most visible arms-control post.
"I see this as a significant step backwards," said Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat.
Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said he did not question Mr. Boltons honesty or intelligence, but contended he was not the right person for the job.
"I have always voted against who oppose the avowed purpose of the position to which they have been nominated," Mr. Biden said.
He criticized Mr. Boltons opposition to the CTBT and questioned the depth of his expertise on arms-control issues.
In his post, Mr. Bolton will be a leading voice in the administration on the coming missile defense debate, on arms proliferation, and on foreign civil and military assistance programs.
Mr. Biden and other critics have pointed to a number of provocative articles and speeches Mr. Bolton authored while in private life. He openly criticized the United Nations, called for the U.S. government to recognize Taiwan and opposed U.S. participation in the proposed international criminal court.
"His penchant for inflammatory rhetoric gives me pause over his capacity for handling this job," Mr. Biden said.
At his March 29 confirmation hearings, Mr. Bolton withstood a sustained grilling by panel Democrats, noting that his skepticism of the test-ban treaty and his support of the missile defense idea were also the positions laid out by the president and Secretary of State Colin Powell.
"I personally consider that sound, verifiable arms-control agreements and energetic nonproliferation strategies can and should be critical elements of American foreign policy," Mr. Bolton told the committee.
Democrats accused the AEI scholar of a "confirmation conversion" soft-pedaling his past views in order to get confirmed. In the end, the nomination was passed on to the Senate by a 10-8 vote early last month, with Mr. Feingold joining the panels nine Republicans in supporting Mr. Bolton.
Mr. Bolton proved a particularly contentious choice because the undersecretarys post has traditionally been seen as the institutional voice within the government pushing multilateral arms-controls deals. Mr. Bush with his choice signaled a sharp departure from the Clinton approach.
John Isaacs, president of the Council for a Livable World, who opposed the nominee, said Mr. Bolton will "stick out like a sore thumb" in his new post, predicting he may soon clash with Mr. Powell over the usefulness of international arms-control accords.
Mr. Isaacs said the 43 votes against the nomination demonstrated that there is "still strong Democratic support for arms control and that might mean some real fights with the administration in the near future."


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