Why are Democrats -- in the words of Sen. Christopher Dodd -- promising a "bruising" battle over the confirmation of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations?
Bolton is serving under a recess appointment because Democrats twice filibustered a vote on his confirmation last year, preventing a full Senate vote. They were upset that Bolton had made disparaging remarks about the United Nations and that he was tough on subordinates. They were afraid he would alienate our allies.
Now they are sure he has done just that. Dodd said, "I'm sorry the administration wants to go forward with this. The problems still persist. Many ambassadors at the U.N. feel he hasn't done a good job there. He has polarized the situation."
There you have your answer. The liberals' opposition to Bolton lies in their attitude toward the United Nations, which they regard as a largely positive institution rightly frustrated with the arrogance of President Bush and the United States.
The New York Times made this very clear in a recent story on Bolton. The Times wrote, "The Bush administration is not popular in the United Nations, where it is often perceived as disdainful of diplomacy, and its policies as heedless of the effects on others and single-minded in the willful assertion of American interests. By extension, then, many diplomats say they see Mr. Bolton as a stand-in for the arrogance of the administration itself."
Does the Times bother to refute this charge that Bolton and the administration are arrogant and unjustly alienate our "traditional allies"? Hardly. It's been one of the main critics of President Bush's alleged "unilateralism" in foreign policy.
Liberals don't like it one bit that Bolton sees his role as vigorously representing the national interests of the United States, just as every other U.N. ambassador advocates the positions of his own country. They don't support Bolton's efforts to reform the United Nations, a corrupt organization that has consistently mistreated the United States and made a mockery of human rights -- a cause it purports to champion. They cringe when Bolton exposes U.N. hypocrisy, such as when he pointedly challenged Louise Arbour, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, on his threat to charge Israeli leaders with war crimes.They don't like Bolton's unambiguous defense of Israel's actions in response to Hezbollah's unprovoked attacks, in which they killed and kidnapped Israeli soldiers and shot missiles indiscriminately into Israeli civilian populations. They resent Bolton's rejection of the U.N.'s moral perversion in giving the terrorists a pass for their atrocities and portraying Israeli acts of self-defense as war crimes.
They shudder at Bolton's moral clarity, such as when he said, "I think it's important that we not fall into the trap of moral equivalency here. What Israel has done in response is act in self-defense. And I don't quite know what the argument about proportionate force means here. Is Israel entitled only to kidnap two Hezbollah operatives and fire a couple of rockets aimlessly into Lebanon?"
Bolton understands the nature of this conflict and its adversaries. Nothing could better characterize the respective warring forces than a recent cartoon depicting an armed Israeli soldier positioned protectively in front of a baby carriage while his terrorist enemy was holding his weapon (SET ITAL) behind (END ITAL) a baby carriage.
To put it bluntly, Republicans support Bolton's nomination precisely because of his clarity of thought and speech -- and his unapologetic representation of America's interests. Democrats oppose him because they sympathize with the negative view of Bolton held by foreign envoys who have anything but the best interests of the United States in mind.
If it bothers you that we have a staunch defender of America's interests serving as our ambassador to the United Nations and believe, instead, that we should routinely subordinate our interests to other nations openly hostile to us and contemptuous of the very idea of human rights, then you, too, should join the liberal chorus against confirmation of this fine public servant.