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Everything old is new again

A few items in the news last week reminded me of a very old joke, from before I was even born, that made the rounds back in 1966 or so:

They told me that if I voted for Goldwater, we'd have a war in Southeast Asia, civil and racial unrest, and a ruined economy. I went ahead and voted for him anyway, and it turned out they were absolutely right.

Last spring, when President Bush nominated John Bolton to be Ambassador to the United Nations, his critics all seemed to be singing from the same songbook. Bolton was too temperamental, too mercurial, too undiplomatic, too confrontational to be our representative to that august body. The only way real progress could be made at the United Nations was if the Senate refused to confirm him.

It looks like they were right: the Senate did, indeed, not confirm Mr. Bolton to be ambassador. And look at what's happened, just in the last couple of weeks:

--there has been a major push for much-needed financial reform within the UN.

-- the UN is considering, for the first time, condemning Hizbollah as a terrorist group.

-- the Security Council is pressuring Eritrea to lift restrictions on UN Peacekeepers along its border with Ethiopia, hopefully heading off a war.

-- Syria is coming under more and more pressure to cooperate with the investigation into the assassination of Rafik Hariri in Lebanon.

And in each case, our ambassador has played a key role. Gosh, I'm glad the Senate listened to Kos, Atrios, Oliver Willis, and all the other fine, sagacious, learned souls who fought against the Bolton nomination. Imagine the havoc that would have been unleashed at the UN had they actually voted to approve him?


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Comments (11)

Excellent, Excellent. Very ... (Below threshold)
Jake:

Excellent, Excellent. Very clever post.

I don't get it?... (Below threshold)
avidJTgroupie:

I don't get it?

avidJTgroupie,The ... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

avidJTgroupie,

The ones opposing Bolton said if the Senate ever voted for him it would be utter chaos in the UN. The said if the Senate didn't vote for him then those four things (all good things) would happen.

Well, they didn't vote for him. They didn't vote at all because Bush did a recess appointment....and lo and behold those things happened....but not because of the resaon the opponents of Bolton thought they would.

They happened because he is in the UN and pushing them. Contrary to their belief he wasn't a problem at the UN he has become a solution.

He's not afraid to remind the rest of the UN that without US support and money the UN is of little use to the world other than a place for diplomats to pose for pictures while yielding Emperor's Clothes power.

Sorry, but from what I read... (Below threshold)
Chris:

Sorry, but from what I read you're significantly overplaying Bolton's role. In the first instance, it appears Bolton's only involvement is that he's pushing an agenda that no one else supports, which is what we expected. In the second instance, I couldn't get the page to load properly, but from the little I read it does appear that Bolton is leading the charge.

In the third instance, the Greek ambassdor submitted a proposal followign a trip to the region by the Japanese ambassador. Bolton's involvement seems to be that he's "irked" (apparently his specialty) that more progress isn't being made. And in the case of the Hariri investigation, which has appeared from what I've read to be a classic example of how the UN can be effective, Bolton is standing on the sidelines offering commentary. I readily admit that I don't know much about the first three examples you gave, but I do know a bit about Hariri. And from the links you provided, I don't see how Bolton is the prime mover in any but the Hizbollah example. I cdrtainly don't see how "They happened because he is in the UN and pushing them," as Faith+1 asserts.

Now, there may be more information that supports your claim. But it's not in the links you provided .

To Chris:Could it be... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

To Chris:
Could it be that Bolton is not a wimpy a%^kisser is the reason you can't see his role? hmmmm

Bolton is now holding up th... (Below threshold)
avaroo:

Bolton is now holding up the budget process at the UN it seems. Apparently Kofi wants the budget set for the next two years before he commits to any reforms. Not a good idea. No reforms, no money. Let the UN live with a temporary 2 month budget if it can't get its act together on reforms. That or let's give our permanent seat (and our share of the UN dues) on the UN security council to Germany.

Yes, it is probably too soo... (Below threshold)
robert:

Yes, it is probably too soon to write the final chapter on Bolton, but he has been effective in the past.

One has to look the other way though, not to notice that there are signs of change at the UN, however slight. The Syria pressure is welcome if credit is due to Condi and the French more than Bolton.

Do we detect a more transparent UN? Time will tell. Has the US attitude changed toward the UN as the OFF info came out, and yes, the debate over Bolton? Well yes, as a matter of fact, polls indicate that we are all now more aware of the big problems up there.

Is there real reform and an ethics board? Has the Human Rights Commission been cleaned up? Not yet, but heck, at least they are starting to talk about it, and Bolton is leading the way.

Too soon to celibrate? Yep, but for the first time in a long time, some small reason to hope.

And all of this puts the wood to the idea that Bolton would so set the world against us big trouble would result. Not yet on this also, even some evidence to the contrary.

Even Chris does not deny the progress, only the credit to whom it belongs. Roger that, but so far, so good.

Heck, give the credit to Pierre Salinger if it will help.


jhow66You said "Co... (Below threshold)
Chris:

jhow66

You said "Could it be that Bolton is not a wimpy a%^kisser is the reason you can't see his role? hmmmm"

Since I took the time to detail why I didn't see Bolton's involvement, perhaps you could correct me where I'm wrong, instead of just questioning my motives. The reason I can't see his role is because it's not clear he had one, other than to bluster about how everybody better get on the stick. The exception appears to be Hizbolla, which I stipulated. (And by the way, previous UN ambassadors have also made things happen. Every time Bolton does something it doesn't mean he's the only one who could have possibly done it.)

And I find it interesting that my position is rpresented as "even Chris does not deny the progress." I'm not sure what "even Chris" is supposed to mean. Most of those who opposed Bolton didn't do so because they thought the UN was perfect. They did it because he clearly despised the UN and had no interest in it succeeding. The fact that there has been progress that he didn't intiate vindicates that position. What I took from this post was that the UN was finally making progress because of Bolton's presence. I don't see it in the news articles linked to, and I'm not sure that the Hariri investigation is something we should be taking credit for. Despite what a lot of people might want to think, and despite its many flaws, the UN actually has accomplished quite a lot, and not always because the US made them do it.

The U.N. Ambassador is supp... (Below threshold)
Brian:

The U.N. Ambassador is supposed to represent U.S. interests at the U.N. The Democrats think the position requires representing U.N. interests to the U.S.

Yo Chris,OK, I ret... (Below threshold)
robert:

Yo Chris,

OK, I retract the “even Chris” bit and you can speak for yourself. No offense intended, I was just making the point that if even critics - which may or may not be yourself - are not saying “Bolton did this, or Bolton did that, which ruined the UN”, but instead are questioning who gets the credit, progress has likely been made.

In recent years the sealed armor of the UN has been, if indeed by crowbar and brick by brick, loosed a bit. This has exposed many scandals of mismanagement, graft and corruption and worse. No period in UN history has faced anywhere near this level of scandal. On this almost all agree.

More and more this is becoming consensus. With each new indictment of French and Russian politicians and high UN officials, with each new procurement scandal, with each new wave of shredding, with each new accusation of refugee abuse, the state of the UN becomes more exposed, chink-by-chink. The voices of the “UN is the solution to most everything” supporters have gone quiet.

We can agree that the UN has done many good things. Can we agree too that a reasonable person might lack confidence in the current UN, in light of troubling recent revelations? How would Eleanor Roosevelt herself react with the introduction of Libya and Cuba leading the Human Rights Commission, and would they be quite so reliably dedicated to the principles with which she started the place?

Indeed the UN has become so convoluted and so twisted, that even the HRC acts to preserve the ability of dictators to abuse their populace, not restrict it. A complete reversal of purpose that.

On this, even the most committed internationalist must give a nod to the conservatives who have been warning about this longer than most, and absent which – the Bush Admin and the congress – we would probably never know about half of the scandal. Exposure is well underway and reform is starting. I can imagine no greater need than an independent and strong ethics board at the UN, and yet another measure of the abysmal state of the UN is the number of lifetime UN reps that oppose it. What have they got against ethics anyway?

But the reform movement gains strength every day and it is going to be hard to stop now, notwithstanding the almost silence of the MSM. Bolton may not even need his crowbar. As to whether he is 27.2 or 33.4 percent responsible, I care very little; he is just a part of a larger force.


Great stuff. I love the Gol... (Below threshold)

Great stuff. I love the Goldwater joke.




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