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Bolton to the UN

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Well-known member
Feb 14, 2005
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Southern SD
WSJ Online
August 2, 2005

Bolton to the U.N.
Washington gets the ambassador it needs--and so does Turtle Bay.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

Can anyone beyond the Beltway recall what the Bolton drama was about beyond yelling at a few bureaucrats? Deciding yesterday that it was past time to get on with the serious work of confronting the U.N.'s manifest problems, President Bush used his recess-appointment power to send John Bolton to Turtle Bay. That should be good news for anyone with a good-faith interest in reforming the U.N., now at perhaps the most critical moment in its 60-year history.

The post had been vacant for six months. Senate Democrats, under the "leadership" of Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, have prolonged and thwarted every attempt to hold a vote on Mr. Bolton, who of course would have been confirmed had his name reached the Senate floor. No wild accusation was ever proved, other than that he sought the removal of two intelligence analysts for incompetence and insubordination. Notably, both the 9/11 Commission and Robb-Silberman Commission said policy makers have a responsibility to question and challenge intelligence analysts.

Senators Biden and Dodd ostentatiously demanded that the Administration let them see confidential intelligence intercepts relating to Mr. Bolton's testimony on Syrian weapons of mass destruction. These same Senators agreed that Mr. Bolton's testimony was accurate. And they knew that intercepts had been reviewed by the Intelligence Committee's two ranking Senators, who said they showed nothing of import. But this reality check didn't stop them from pressing a filibuster.

Mr. Bush now faces crocodile shouts of outrage for having bypassed the Senate, but the appointment is an entirely appropriate use of his constitutional authority to staff the government. Nor has he shown himself willing to abuse the appointment power, unlike the most recent Democratic President.

The most bitterly fought case of the Clinton years was the nomination of Bill Lann Lee as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Mr. Lee was given a hearing. But when it became clear that he would be defeated on the floor of the Republican-controlled Senate, it was Democrats who blocked a vote.

In response, Mr. Clinton decided against a recess appointment that would expire at the end of that Congress. Instead, he named Mr. Lee as "acting" Assistant Attorney General, which allowed him to serve until the end of Mr. Clinton's term. Democratic Senator Robert Byrd protested, and even Mr. Clinton admitted this wasn't "entirely constitutional."

With the circus behind him, Mr. Bolton has a lot to keep him occupied between now and January 2007, when his appointment expires. We like the bipartisan blueprint for U.N. reform put forward in June by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell. They call for a permanent independent oversight board to prevent future corruption scandals like Oil for Food, the creation of a democracy caucus within the U.N., and more effective security mechanisms to deter future Rwanda-style genocides.
Meanwhile, legislation conditioning America's $500 million a year in dues on U.N. reform is barreling through Congress and could result in another U.S. withholding of funds along the lines of Jesse Helms's famous boycott. This is probably one reason Mark Malloch Brown, the U.N. Secretariat's chief of staff, told us earlier this year that he was enthusiastic about Mr. Bolton's pending ambassadorship. The Bush emissary, he said, would be an effective ambassador from the U.N. to Washington.

Also rapidly reaching a crisis state are the investigations into the Oil for Food program. More breakthroughs are expected soon, and it may not be long before the new U.S. Ambassador is called upon to negotiate a successor to Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Mr. Bolton's recent State Department experience in exposing the A.Q. Khan arms network in Pakistan and in persuading Libya to give up its arms program should prove especially helpful in shaping the U.N.'s role in battling the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The Proliferation Security Initiative he helped engineer and run has proved more effective than any other multilateral organization in stopping the flow of WMD.

Ambassador Bolton said yesterday that he is committed to making the U.N. "a stronger, more effective organization." After his past half-year's experience with the U.S. Senate, we trust that he at least has some sense of the institutional challenge ahead.