- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2005

John R. Bolton, the nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, laid out his opinions on the world body in “Delusions of Grandeur,” which was published by the Cato Institute in 1997 and contains a classic Bolton essay titled “The Creation, Fall, Rise and Fall of the United Nations.”

“Let us be realistic about the U.N.,” it asserts. “It has served our purposes from time to time; and it is worth keeping alive for future service. But it is not worth the sacrifice of American troops, American freedom of action or American national interests.

“It can be a useful tool in the American foreign policy kit. The U.N. should be used when and where we choose to use it to advance American national interests. Not to validate academic theories and abstract models.”

In that essay, the most serious detailed thinking that Mr. Bolton has published on the United Nations, he advocates five key principles on which the United States should insist in its dealings with that institution.

c”The new secretary-general must deliver on reform.” This remains as relevant now as it was eight years ago. Mr. Bolton still believes that the key to reform lies in breaking down the United Nations’ traditional fiefdoms in the development program, environment program, the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and others, and treating the United Nations as a single system. It also means being realistic about the limits of any one person’s power at the United Nations.

“One should not invest excessive hope in any secretary-general,” Mr. Bolton said. “He is not the president of the world. He is not a diplomat for all seasons. He is not Mr. Friend of the Earth. And most definitely of all, he is not the commander in chief of the World Federalist Army. He is the chief administrative officer.”

• The United Nations should “stick with traditional peacekeeping,” which means following the old rule that permanent members of the Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — should not take part in peacekeeping. Moreover, “what should be relegated to history’s junk pile at the first opportunity are the chimerical Clinton notions of U.N. ‘peace enforcement’ and ‘nation-building’ and ‘enlargement.’ Those unworldly concepts have resulted in American personnel and resources being committed to U.N. operations far removed from vital American interests.”

• “Do not reform the Security Council.” Mr. Bolton wants the current permanent members to keep their veto, a power that he sees as “the greatest single protection the U.S. has at the U.N. … The desire to remold the Security Council now to conform to theoretical models of contemporary global politics should not obscure our present ability to make the council function effectively, at least in certain circumstances.”

• “Management and financial reform remains essential.” Mr. Bolton questions the financial basis of the United Nations, under which each country pays dues that are meant to be assessed roughly in accordance with their wealth.

“Eliminate assessments altogether, moving toward a U.N. system that is funded entirely by purely voluntary contributions from the member governments … [which] would allow each government to judge for itself whether it was getting its money’s worth from the U.N. and each of its component agencies.”

• “Face reality” and accept the United Nations’ limitations and the realities of national interest, and from the American point of view, remember, “The U.N. is only a tool, not a theology. It is one of several options we have and is certainly not invariably the most important one.”

In short, Mr. Bolton’s views on the United Nations are likely to go down well with a great deal of American public opinion and to appeal strongly to Republicans in the Senate, while infuriating the French, the Democrats and lots of people at the United Nations.

His nomination, therefore, makes domestic political sense for the Bush administration.

It convinces the neoconservatives that they still have a voice close to the throne. They have been troubled by the departure of Douglas J. Feith from the Pentagon and were made nervous by that short-lived White House suggestion that Paul Wolfowitz might go to the World Bank, because it means that his tenure at the Pentagon is no longer firm.

It reminds the fractious Republicans of Capitol Hill, who are starting to bicker among themselves as the Democrats rediscover unity of purpose in the defense of Social Security, what Republican solidarity is supposed to mean. They can support Mr. Bolton and bash the Democrats and the United Nations — two of their favorite targets — at the same time.

The Republicans have the votes in the Senate to confirm Mr. Bolton. Unless the Democrats siphon off several Republican moderates like Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, he will be the lucky fellow who occupies that special suite at the Waldorf Towers that is reserved for the American ambassador to the United Nations. But the likelihood is that Mr. Hagel and Mr. Lugar are likely to stand firm.

Indeed, some Democratic senators, knowing how unpopular the United Nations can be with voters back home, are likely to support Mr. Bolton. It was significant that Tim Wirth, the former Democratic senator from Colorado and State Department official who now runs the U.N. Foundation, did not challenge Mr. Bolton’s nomination, but stressed, “The U.N. needs the support of the U.S. both to sustain its mission, and to reform itself for the demands of the 21st century.”

A U.N. spokesman said the world body has “nothing against people who do hold us accountable,” and Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he is “looking forward to working with Mr. Bolton.”

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