UN critic Bolton a good selection as US ambassador

March 14, 2005
For the beleaguered United Nations, brought to near extinction by virulent diplomacy, help is on the way.

Bob Tippee

For the beleaguered United Nations, brought to near extinction by virulent diplomacy, help is on the way.

The UN needs a shake-up. Without it, the organization will die of ineffectiveness and irrelevance.

The job has begun, however, with the nomination of an outspoken critic as US ambassador.

The nominee, Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton, speaks his mind, which apparently throbs with all that's wrong at the UN.

While working at the State Department during the administration of former President George H. W. Bush, Bolton helped bring about the 1991 repeal of a 1975 General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism.

With the current administration, he led the withdrawal of US support for the International Criminal Court and promoted President George W. Bush's Proliferation Security Initiative, an attempt pointedly outside the UN to stop trade in nuclear materials.

Because of Bolton's reputation for being plain-spoken and unyielding, European leaders have expressed dismay over the nomination. Senate Democrats promise to oppose it.

To opponents like these, Bolton's manner clashes with the spirit of compromise favored by diplomacy. But that's the problem with diplomacy and its high temple, the UN. Many of the governments represented in the UN are plainly wicked. Compromising with them vindicates wickedness.

The UN needs someone with influence to say so.

It needs someone to call outrages outrageous, such as when countries governed by autocrats are nominated to head human rights programs.

It needs someone to oppose the coddling of dictators.

It needs someone to condemn governments that conspire in genocide, that fail the populations they should be serving, and that support terrorism.

It needs someone to demand that the UN be less corrupt than the least corrupt of its members.

It needs someone like Bolton.

And the oil and gas industry needs a viable UN to address the essential political dimensions of its expatriate work.

International oil and gas companies and the UN have complementary roles to play in the improvement of living conditions worldwide. They have stakes in each other's legitimacy.

Bolton's nomination, because it represents dissatisfaction with the UN's status quo, deserves the industry's support.

(Author's e-mail: [email protected])