Friday, April 8, 2005

Some of us can hardly wait for John Bolton to get to the United Nations, where he promises to be the most candid U.S. emissary since the charming Daniel Patrick Moynihan, or maybe the astute Jeane Kirkpatrick.

Each towered over (and told off) that distinguished den of thieves, tyrants, haters, apologists for terror, and pompous nullities who can speak forever and still say nothing. At the U.N., talk comes by the yard and action by the inch.

It’s about time the United States once again sent the U.N. an ambassador with an attitude. Who better to represent the land of the free and home of the brave at this moment than a walrus-moustached, straight-talking, undiplomatic diplomat?

Here is John Bolton’s concise reply when someone suggested the United States, in accordance with the old carrot-and-stick strategy, offer some inducement to rogue states like North Korea to behave themselves: “I don’t do carrots.” It’s the kind of brief yet comprehensive comment that makes you want to stand up and cheer.

There has seldom been a more accurate appraisal of North Korea’s beloved leader offered by an American diplomat than this one from Ambassador Bolton: “While he lives like royalty in Pyongyang, he keeps hundreds of thousands of his people locked in prison camps with millions more mired in abject poverty. For many in North Korea, life is a hellish nightmare.”

Mr. Bolton was immediately pilloried for his comment — not because it wasn’t true, but because he dared say it aloud.

As his confirmation hearings draw near, John Bolton is about to be attacked not just by the usual, totalitarian suspects but by every appeaser in the West. Because he tells the truth, with the bark off, as we say in these parts.

But we can’t have that if pretenses are to be kept up, dictators appeased and the U.N.’s holy aura preserved inviolate. Some truths must never be spoken. It would be … undiplomatic.

C.S. Lewis said it even before there was a U.N. “The greatest evil,” he observed in “The Screwtape Letters,” is not done “in concentration and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.”

C.S. Lewis could have been describing every diplomat who ever stood quietly by while evil was done, massacres allowed to proceed unchecked, money funneled to terrorist regimes….

Lewis could have been describing the U.N.’s ironically named Commission on Human Rights. Its membership roll reads in large part like a Who’s Who of homicidal tyrannies.

No wonder His Excellency Felipe Perez Roque, foreign minister of Cuba, the Western Hemisphere’s oldest continuous gulag, predicted the human-rights panel will not act against the regime he represents. He may be right. Just look at the commission membership. It includes such stalwart human-rights defenders as Sudan, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Egypt, Swaziland, Bhutan, Communist China and Cuba itself.

Frida Ghitis, who keeps up with these international charades, said it: This human-rights commission has all the moral authority of a crime-fighting committee headed by Jeffrey Dahmer and Charles Manson.

The irony and pity of has become routine, like a long-neglected item that’s always on the U.N.’s agenda but never addressed. It takes a movie like “Hotel Rwanda” to awaken our conscience, even for a couple of hours. After that, it’s back to the usual platitudes and politics at the United Nations.

Maybe if someone someday uttered just one real word in those echoing halls, instead of making another excuse or issuing another defensive press release, light might break through at the U.N., painful as it would be to see what was revealed. But at this point, reality is the last thing one expects from the UnitedNations and its inflated bureaucracy.

For example, it just issued a long, detailed report on the genocide under way in Darfur without once uttering the word “genocide.” The truth would be undiplomatic. As in John Bolton’s concise judgment on the 38-story U.N. building: “If it lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”

Mr. Bolton can’t get there fast enough for some of us.

Paul Greenberg is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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