My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Quick Hits on John Bolton

The now-rejuvenated nomination of John Bolton to the U.N. gets a strong endorsement on the pages of the Opinion Journal Online today.

From the lead editorial:

The real motives are a combination of ideological animus and bureaucratic score-settling. On the latter, we know Mr. Bolton tangled with State Department officials who were profoundly antagonistic to President Bush's agenda on issues ranging from the ABM Treaty to the International Criminal Court, and that he usually got his way. Now it's payback time. . .

None of this, however, quite explains the depth of hostility that Mr. Bolton inspires. The deeper explanation is that he set out to explode the consensus views of the foreign-policy establishment--and succeeded.
This was the consensus that held, or holds, that North Korea and Iran can be bribed away from their nuclear ambitions, that democracy in the Arab world was impossible and probably undesirable, that fighting terrorism merely encourages more terrorism, that countries such as Syria pose no significant threat to U.S. national security, that the U.N. alone confers moral legitimacy on a foreign-policy objective, and that support for Israel explains Islamic hostility to the U.S. Above all, in this view, the job of appointed officials such as Mr. Bolton is to reside benignly in their offices at State while the permanent foreign service bureaucracy goes about applying establishment prescriptions.

John Bolton would have none of this. For this, he has been smeared by his partisan critics and maligned, often anonymously, by his former colleagues. But he has also been vindicated by events, and by his accomplishments, in the last four years. If this makes Mr. Bolton unconfirmable in the eyes of the Senate, then talented Americans have no place in our government.

Ouch. And then Peggy Noonan weighs in:

John Bolton is conceded by all, friends and foes alike, to be very smart, quite earnest, hardworking and experienced (undersecretary of state, former assistant secretary of state, treaty negotiator, international development official and old U.N. hand; he played a major role in getting the U.N. to repeal its 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism). He is also known as jocular and tough-minded. He has been highly critical of the United Nations. These are all good things.

If he is confirmed he will walk into the U.N. as a man whose reputation is that he does not play well with the other children. Not all bad. He will not be seen as a pushover. Good. Some may approach him with a certain tentativeness. But Mr. Bolton, having been burned in the media frying pan and embarrassed, will likely moderate those parts of his personal style that have caused him trouble. He may wind up surprising everyone with his openness and friendliness. Fine.

Or he'll be a bull in a china shop.

But the U.N. is a china shop in need of a bull, isn't it?

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