- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 3, 2006

When the United States Senate returns from its August recess, one of its earliest and easiest decisions should be the confirmation of John Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Although already serving for over a year as a recess appointment of President Bush, only a vote of confirmation by the Senate will allow him to remain at the United Nations beyond January 2007. While his Senate critics prevented a confirmation vote a year ago, they should no longer deny him this vote after his forceful and effective defense of U.S. interests in the U.N. on issues ranging from Korea, Iran, and U.N. reform to the crisis in the Middle East.

Through Mr. Bolton’s hard work a unanimous resolution ended hostilities in the Middle East and provided the possibility of a sustainable peace. Rather than seek an immediate and unconditional cease-fire, as many argued as soon as hostilities broke out, Ambassador Bolton pressed his U.N. colleagues to answer the tough question: “how do you negotiate and maintain a cease-fire with a terrorist organization [that]… does not even recognize the right of Israel to exist?”

Mr. Bolton forced the United Nations to confront its own failure in Lebanon that provided the catalyst for the recent conflict: U.N. resolution 1559 that supposedly provided for Hezbollah’s disarmament. But instead the U.N. resolution, the Lebanese Army and the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon all stood idly by while Iran and Syria moved massive military supplies (including 10,000 rockets) into southern Lebanon to build up the Hezbollah military machine.

The new international military force may finally provide the means to disarm the terrorists. This may be the last chance for the United Nations to prove it has any relevance whatsoever in effectively dealing with real threats to peace.

Confronting the crisis in the Middle East has been characteristic of how Mr. Bolton has tackled tough problems at the United Nations for the last 12 months.

On North Korean missile tests, Mr. Bolton effectively used his extensive background as a State Department arms control diplomat to get concrete sanctions imposed on the renegade regime of Kim Jong-il. Overcoming initial objections of both China and Russia, Mr. Bolton secured the unanimous passage of Security Council Resolution 1695, which demanded North Korea suspend all activities related to its missile program. This also required countries to cease all trade with North Korea in goods and technology that could contribute to its missile program.

Mr. Bolton contrasted this action with what he called the “weak and feckless press statement” the U.N. issued in response to previous ballistic missile tests by North Korea in 1998. As in Lebanon, the United Nations had facilitated a much more dangerous crisis by failing earlier to deal resolutely with aggressive actions.

Similarly, years of bureaucratic bungling at the U.N. in dealing with the Iranian development of nuclear weapons has been replaced with vigorous American leadership on the issue. For three years, Iran had failed to comply with Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and its International Atomic Energy Agency Safeguards Agreement. As with other global threats that the U.N. had consistently ignored, Mr. Bolton pointedly warned the United Nations: “The longer we wait to confront the threat Iran poses, the harder and more intractable it will become to solve.”

With the support of the United States, and sustained cooperation of key European allies, the Security Council passed a resolution condemning the nuclear activities of Iran and demanded they both suspend nuclear enrichment activities and cease construction of a heavy water reactor. With Iran’s flat rejection on Aug. 22 of the U.N. demands, the time has come to act on Mr. Bolton’s previous warning to the Tehran regime that international sanctions should be invoked.

Mr. Bolton has waged a lonelier campaign against corrupt institutions at the United Nations, such as the Commission on Human Rights and its pale imitation replacement, the new Human Rights Council. As Mr. Bolton noted, the change in name, some cosmetic changes in its composition and the reduction of members from 53 to 47 did not constitute meaningful reform. Thus the United States voted against it because, according to Mr. Bolton, “We did not have confidence… that the Human Rights Council would be better than its predecessor.”

His skepticism was fully vindicated when the new council was created and, like the previous commission, included such violators of human rights as China and Cuba. The failure of Iran to secure a seat on the council was hailed as a notable achievement. Given the council’s composition, it was not surprising that the first emergency meeting it held dealt solely with alleged human-rights violations by Israel in the war in the Middle East. No mention was made in its report of the activities of Hezbollah terrorists that had launched thousands of rockets in indiscriminate attacks on Israeli towns and cities.

Mr. Bolton has boldly led the way to institute basic structural reforms of the United Nations and establish a transparent and accountable institution, especially in the wake of the massive oil-for-food scandal and the gross incompetence and inefficiencies that riddle the entire structure of the United Nations.

The U.N. has finally established an Ethics Office and drastically lowered the allowable gift limit U.N. members can accept. More broadly, new financial disclosure requirements have been adopted and U.N. personnel have greater protection than before if they report misconduct within the institution.

Through the concerted leadership of Mr. Bolton some positive changes have taken place at the United Nations. Most importantly it has been forced by the United States to deal with real problems in the world posed by Iran, North Korea and global terrorism.

In one short but eventful year, Ambassador Bolton has already acted in a bold and effective manner reminiscent of former U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick and Patrick Moynihan. Both of them also frequently spoke with a candor and honesty that the United Nations desperately needs to hear. With the multiple crises enveloping the United Nations only bold and decisive American leadership can both protect our own interests and rein in the terrorist turmoil.

A vote to confirm Mr. Bolton will both endorse strong American leadership at the U.N. and also give the U.N. a final chance to rescue itself from its well-deserved reputation for corruption, incompetence and irrelevance.

Jeffrey Gayner is chairman of Americans for Sovereignty, former international affairs counselor of the Heritage Foundation and served in the U.S. Information Agency during the Reagan Administration.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide