The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled this morning to consider yet again one of President Bush’s most inspired nominations — the appointment of John Bolton to the post of U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Would-be Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut has announced this will be a “bruising fight.”
Last year’s committee deliberations about the Bolton nomination were marked by smears, innuendo, press leaks and outright attempts at character assassination against this honorable and highly competent public servant — much of which was orchestrated by Mr. Dodd and his staff. If anybody is bruised this time around it, however, is likely to be Mr. Bolton’s detractors.
After all, John Bolton has been the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for almost a year, albeit not on a “permanent” basis. Thanks to a Democrat-led filibuster of Mr. Bolton’s original nomination — which enjoyed the support of a single Foreign Relations Committee Republican, Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, President Bush was obliged to use a recess appointment to put in place the man he wanted to represent us at Turtle Bay. All other things being equal, that representation will come to an end when Congress adjourns later this year.
Fortunately, based on a year of observing Mr. Bolton’s effectiveness as a diplomat and his considerable success in advancing America’s interests at the United Nations, Mr. Voinovich has publicly announced he will support the ambassador’s renomination. Since the ambassador’s laudable record has, presumably, given the rest of the committee’s Republicans no reason to change their previous support, Mr. Bolton should be assured the majority required to secure a favorable vote by that panel. He then should also be able to secure confirmation by the full Senate.
These realities, of course, will not necessarily prevent those like Mr. Dodd — senators and others who are passionately opposed ideologically to this president and seemingly prepared to do anything possible to hinder his wartime leadership — from trying further to “bruise” Mr. Bolton. This time, though, the critics will not be assailing a bogey-man manufactured by his bureaucratic rivals and left-wing foes.
Instead, the individual before the Foreign Relations Committee today is indisputably a seasoned, accomplished diplomat. He has demonstrated his ability, as well as his commitment, to achieve multilateral support for American policies where possible. And where that is simply not the case, he has nonetheless found ways to advance our interests in a professional, competent and effective manner.
If anything, John Bolton is currently an even better choice for the United Nations than he was when Mr. Bush first wisely asked him to serve there.
At a juncture when the U.N. is supposed to help with serious crises from Lebanon to Iran to North Korea, to undertake sweeping institutional reform and to mount and underwrite massive humanitarian operations worldwide, it is hard to believe that — apart from a few zealots like Mr. Dodd — many of that organization’s champions actually think their cause will benefit from an ugly, partisan effort to “bruise” America’s representative.
Instead, sensible advocates for the U.N. probably will embrace the advice offered by Mr. Voinovich in an op-ed article announcing his support for Mr. Bolton’s re-nomination that was published in The Washington Post last week: “For the good of our country, the United Nations and the Free World, we must end any ambiguity about whether John Bolton speaks for the United States so that he can work to support our interests at the United Nations during this critical time.”
John Bolton has fully vindicated the confidence placed in him by President Bush and the bipartisan support he garnered from estimable security policy practitioners the last time he was subjected to a “bruising fight” in the Senate. The latter included scores of people like the late Caspar Weinberger, R. James Woolsey, George Shultz, Ed Meese and Max Kampelman. As they put it in an open letter to the Senate in April 2005: “[Then-]Secretary Bolton’s formidable grasp of the issues of the day, his exemplary previous service to our country and the confidence President Bush reposes in him will make him an outstanding and highly effective representative to the United Nations.”
It is not clear at this writing that the U.N. will prove capable in the future of improving upon its past, generally dismal record when it comes to dealing with the world’s ills. If there is reason for hope on this score, however, it lies in America being represented there by an exceptionally principled, articulate and energetic advocate for our cause. Today, we have such a representative in John Bolton. It is time for the Senate to make him truly our “permanent” one, with an early and resoundingly affirmative vote for Ambassador Bolton’s renomination.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.