Bolton Bad

While President George W. Bush has shown himself to be a cunning demagogue, he continues to display extremely bad judgment, and the nomination of John Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is just the latest example.

Never mind whether you like the United Nations or dislike it. It exists. There are times when the United States will need to win a consensus of the world’s nations, and the United Nations is the place where that is most easily done. That will never happen if we send a man who is loose-lipped, mean-spirited, a serial abuser of underlings, and who believes he can substitute browbeating for persuasion.

Bolton was one of the leaders in misleading the American people about weapons of mass destruction. He abused and tried to get fired or transferred intelligence analysts who had a different opinion than he had. Who is going to believe this guy if he says Iran has nuclear weapons or that strong action needs to be taken against North Korea? Nobody. And if Bolton thinks he can browbeat the Russians, the French, the Chinese and the Germans, he’s in for a big surprise. They will cut him a new and extra orifice.

What is needed at the United Nations is a diplomat. Diplomats leave the demagoguery to politicians. They listen. They try to persuade with reason and evidence. They show respect for others with different opinions. They try to form good personal relations with others. They work behind the scenes and shun the press.

Bolton has displayed not one of these characteristics. He is an ideologue, and he loves to mouth off in public. He was put forward by our reptilian vice president, Dick Cheney, who thoroughly discredited himself with his demagoguery about nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. Bolton has a terrible record on disarmament and an equally terrible record of publicly scorning the United Nations. That’s why 67 former U.S. diplomats, 50 of them having served Republican presidents, wrote a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee opposing Bolton’s appointment.

If Bolton is sent to the United Nations, he will be just another disaster we don’t need.

It’s ironic that I, an anti-imperialist to the core, find myself having to remind Americans that we cannot succeed by thumbing our nose at the rest of the world. Our borders are porous; our economy is in a precarious position; the dollar is losing its value; the president’s coalition of the bullied and the bribed is falling apart in Iraq; the nation’s federal deficit and trade deficit are out of control; the American people are up to their necks in debt; medical costs are skyrocketing; and outsourcing is putting Americans out of work while illegal immigrants compete for the remaining low-pay jobs.

So Mr. Bush decides to send a man to the United Nations who has already and will continue to exacerbate relations with the rest of the world. It’s insane. The only people defending Bolton are the right-wing whores on the radio and TV who wouldn’t criticize Bush if he robbed a Federal Reserve bank.

One can only hope that the U.S. Senate will finally realize that it is elected independently and is not there to support the president. It is there to represent the best interests of the American people. It is there to check a president when he makes a rash or bad decision. If Congress lies down and becomes a lap dog of the president, then the system of checks and balances so carefully crafted by our forefathers is out the window.

Bush has resorted to his usual demagoguery, calling opposition to Bolton a partisan issue. It is not. It’s an American issue, and it is time for the Republicans in the Senate for once to put the interests of the United States ahead of the interests of the Republican Party.

Bolton is not only unqualified, he will do certain damage to the interests of the American people.

Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969 to 1971, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. He now writes a syndicated column which is carried on Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner. Write to Charley Reese at P.O. Box 2446, Orlando, FL 32802.