US Targets UN
one week ago, conventional wisdom both here and in European capitals
was that President George W. Bush's second term would see a modest
turn toward multilateralism and a new readiness to compromise on
key issues with traditional U.S. allies.
however, that particular conventional wisdom is being questioned
amid renewed anxiety that the unilateralist trajectory on which
Bush launched the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks
on New York and the Pentagon is back on track.
biggest single reason for the change was Monday's nomination of
John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international
security during the first term, to the high-profile post of US ambassador
to the United Nations.
problem, as pointed out by a number of Democrats, is that virtually
everything Bolton has ever said about the U.N. suggests that he
thinks the world, and particularly the US, would be better off without
it, once opining (before 9/11) that if the UN secretariat building
lost 10 stories, "it wouldn't make a bit of difference."
nomination is a poke in the eye to the world diplomatic community
and a signal that the Bush administration is going to continue its
unilateralist approach," noted Joe Volk, executive secretary
of a major peace group, Friends Committee for National Legislation
(FCNL), one of a growing number of groups who are gearing up for
a lobbying campaign to persuade senators to oppose Bolton's confirmation.
Ambassador Chas Freeman described the appointment as "the equivalent
of dropping a neutron bomb on the organization."
whatever the nomination said about Bush's attitude toward the UN,
it also demonstrated that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who
is supposed to serve as his superior if he is confirmed by the Senate,
will likely play a much less powerful role in Bush's second term
than had been thought, particularly in the wake of her two tours
one with the president of Europe last month.
how much Bolton had undermined former Secretary of State Colin Powell
during the first term, Rice resisted pressure from Bolton, his Congressional
backers and Vice President Dick Cheney by refusing to appoint him
as her deputy secretary of state choosing instead arch-realist
Robert Zoellick in what was seen as a kind of declaration
of independence from the hawks perched in Cheney's office and around
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
defiance, followed by her triumphal tours of Europe where she repeatedly
promised closer consultation, was widely considered a sign that
the "realists," previously led by Powell, had a new champion
at Foggy Bottom and one who also enjoyed a much closer personal
relationship with the president than her predecessor.
the nomination of Bolton who really served as Cheney's and Rumsfeld's
cat's paw at the State Department under Powell has profoundly
challenged the notion that Rice can stand up to them.
fact that her strongest argument in favor of Bolton when she was
challenged by senators privately on the decision to send him to
the UN was that his tenure there may persuade him to modify his
hard-line views, just as former anti-Communist President Richard
Nixon decided to launch a strategic relationship with Communist
China in the early 1970s, confirmed to many here that Bolton was
being forced down her throat.
Bolton's nomination was the immediate cause of the reassessment
that is now taking place, there have been other signs that the balance
of power within the administration has indeed shifted strongly toward
the most important was the little-noted appointment of J.D. Crouch
as the deputy national security adviser under Rice's former deputy,
Stephen Hadley. While Hadley's foreign policy views were seen as
a mixture of realism and Cheney's aggressive nationalism, Crouch,
who served most recently as ambassador to Romania, is regarded as
a right-wing extremist on both domestic and foreign policy issues.
protégé of William Van Cleave, a Rumsfeld ally and
one of the leaders of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD)
in the 1970s who claimed that the Soviet Union intended to fight
and win a nuclear war with the United States (whose daughter now
serves as the chief of counterintelligence under Rumsfeld), Crouch
was also a favorite of then-Defense Secretary Cheney during Bush's
father's administration, 19891993.
worked in the Pentagon's policy division under the current deputy
defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, and I. Lewis "Scooter"
Libby, who has been Cheney's chief of staff and national security
adviser over the past four years.
the first Gulf War in 199192, Wolfowitz, Libby and Crouch
were all involved in the draft of a controversial Defense Planning
Guidance (DPG), parts of which were leaked to the New York Times
and then explicitly repudiated by the administration.
called for global engagement by the US on its own terms calling
for a military posture designed to deter "potential competitors
from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role."
also urged Washington to create "ad hoc assemblies" to
deal with crisis situations the 1992 version of "coalitions
of the willing" and a doctrine of unilateral military
preemption "to prevent the development or use of weapons of
it predicted that US military interventions would be a "constant
fixture" of the new world order. It omitted any role for the
UN in preserving international peace and security.
the draft was leaked to the Times, it caused an uproar, with Democratic
Senator Joseph Biden claiming that it amounted to a prescription
for a "Pax Americana" and others that it would make Washington
the "world's policeman."
Thursday, the Boston Globe reported that Rumsfeld has set
forth the main priorities for the Pentagon's latest "Quadrennial
Defense Review" (QDR), a major policy paper to guide strategic
planning through the end of the decade and beyond.
the most prominent priorities, according to the Globe account, will
be preventing the emergence of a "peer competitor," stopping
the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and dramatically
expanding the size of US special forces in order to operate more
freely and unilaterally worldwide.
Globe, which described the Rumsfeld memo setting out his
priorities as having a "go-it-alone" tone, omitted boilerplate
language that has appeared in previous QDRs about the importance
of US alliances or the UN.
unipolar world conceived by Wolfowitz & Co. in 1991 was expressed
best by Bolton himself back in 2000.
I were redoing the Security Council today, I'd have one permanent
member because that's the real reflection of the distribution of
power in the world," he said during an interview with National
Public Radio's Juan Williams.
that one member would be, John Bolton?" Williams asked.
United States," Bolton responded.
Lobe is Inter Press Service's correspondent in Washington, DC.
© 2005 Inter Press Service