- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2005

George W. Bush is determined to treat the United Nations as a forum for adults, and some of the wise guys are afraid that asking the delegates to give up their rattles will hurt their feelings.

Shock — and maybe more than a little awe — greeted the nomination of John Bolton to be the new U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Sen. John Kerry, looking for opportunities to apply his “global test” even though George W. Bush is the president of the United States and he’s not, calls the Bolton appointment “baggage we cannot afford.”

Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate who doesn’t seem to like anybody (only last week he sneered at Alan Greenspan as a Washington “hack”), says the appointment is “a disappointing choice and one that sends all the wrong signals.”

Some of our editorialists need a tablet or two of extra-strength Midol and other palliatives for cramps, bloating, headaches, tension, irritability and backache. They’re having hot flashes now that President Bush is sending to New York a man who regards his job as first to look out for American interests.

The New York Times, still in recovery from a full swoon, can’t imagine a real American standing up straight, looking the nation’s enemies in the eye and telling them to stuff it. The editorial page of the old gray lady is particularly upset that Mr. Bolton is skeptical of the International Criminal Court, a transparent creation of the vest-pocket nations of the world with names that sound like an entree in a fish restaurant in Lower Volta (“Burkina Faso is served on a bed of shredded cucumber with a reduction of arugula over toasted risotto”), which would enable the envious and churlish of the world to put American soldiers and maybe even commanders in chief in the dock as war criminals just for doing their assigned jobs.

The International Criminal Court concept, he says, “is based largely on emotional appeals to an abstract ideal of an international judicial system.” It doesn’t make much sense in the real world.

That sounds mild and overly polite but otherwise about right to most of us, who understand that we live in the world as it is and not as it might be, and who appreciate the guarantees of Anglo-Saxon law — innocent until proved guilty first among them — that are usually unknown beyond the English-speaking world. Sad but true.

Mr. Bolton is regarded by apologists for the U.N.’s scandals and shames as an insensitive dude who looks for opportunities to give a sharp elbow to anyone with a grudge against America. He called North Korea “hellish” and Kim Jong-il a “tyrant,” with which most of the Dear Leader’s constituents would concur if they were not afraid of being run feet first through the leaf shredder.

But toadying and groveling is not only demeaning, but ineffective. “A sounder U.S. policy would start by making it clear to the North that we are indifferent to whether we ever have ‘normal’ diplomatic relations with it and that achieving that goal is entirely in their interests, not ours. We should also make clear that diplomatic normalization with the U.S. is only going to come when North Korea becomes a normal country.”

It’s hard to imagine anyone, even the wonks and wonkettes in our most overly refined salons, actually arguing with that. It’s just that they think it’s only proper that there are some true things you can’t say and that you have to say things everyone knows aren’t true. Mr. Bolton once said that the U.N. Security Council ought to have only one permanent member, and this remark irritates certain people not because it’s factually inaccurate, but because it’s an accurate reflection of reality.

This make-believe world is the world that George W. Bush is shaking until every tooth in the delegates’ lounge is rattling like a 10-year-old Ford. Kofi Annan, terrified like most U.N. delegates that he might eventually have to go home, gets along with both democrats and dictators but even he’s getting into the spirit of confronting tyrants. Egged on by George W.’s public defiance of evil, he dispatched an envoy to Damascus to tell Bashar Assad it’s time to get out of Lebanon.

The appointment of John Bolton is of a piece with the shake-up strategy. The message he takes to New York is a simple one: George W. Bush is here, he’s demanding change, and he’s not going away. So get over it.

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.

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