Skip to comments.Bolton at the U.N.: The Right Man at the Right Place
Posted on 04/25/2005 9:49:52 PM PDT by Destro
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Bolton at the U.N.: The Right Man at the Right Place
Had it been in my power to decide I would have selected Cliff Kincaid or Will Grigg for the post of the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. VP Dick Cheneys choice for the post vacated by Sen. John Danforths resignation last December is not that inspired, but it comes as close as can be realistically expected. John Bolton is the right man for the job because he has a healthy disdain for the UN; because his views on a wide array of international issuesfrom Kosovo to the ICC and The Hague Tribunalare eminently sound; and because (unlike all too many neocons) he is recognizably human.
Back in 1994 something called the World Federalist Association incautiously invited Bolton to a panel discussion at which he stated that there is no such thing as the United Nations and added that if the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldnt make a bit of difference. Four years later he wrote in The Washington Times that most Republicans in Congress cared not a hoot about the United States losing a vote in the General Assembly but actually see it as a make my day outcome. Indeed, once the vote is lost, and the adverse consequences predicted by the U.N.s supporters begin to occur, this will simply provide further evidence to many why nothing more should be paid to the U.N. system. Both quotes were true, but they are now held against Bolton at home by the bien-pensants, Democrats and their fellow-travelers, and abroad by all the usual suspects (Le Monde, the World Council of Chruches, The Guardian, etc., etc.).
Boltons famous adage that the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States is invariably quoted out of context. In the same breath he added,
We ought to be concerned about this so-called right of humanitarian interventiona right of intervention that is just a gleam in one beholders eye but looks like flat-out aggression to somebody else. What we did was bomb innocent civilian Serbs into the ground in order that the Albanians can come back and ethnically cleanse the Serbs relatives out of whats left of Kosovo.
It is obvious that the target of his remark was not the notion of international law per se, but the humanitarian interventionists who used NATO for 78 days to pulverize Serbia in 1999. A similar quote could have come from a Chronicles editor, and indeed it has. As he has said since,
While the historical understanding of customary international law was that it evolved from the practices of nation states over long years of development, today we have theorists who speak approvingly of spontaneous customary international law that the cognoscenti discover almost overnight. This is simply not acceptable to any free person. The U.S. policy in the Balkans in general, and Kosovo in particular, has been a reliable litmus test of a politicians soundness for a decade and a half. Bolton passes it with flying colors. Prior to his appointment as Undersecretary of State he had repeatedly said that Bosnia-Herzegovina should be divided between Serbia, Croatia, and a narrow Muslim region in the middle. He had also supported the division of Kosovo into the northern triangle that would be kept by Serbia and the rest that would go to the Albanians. Within months of the end of Clintons war against Serbia, as the nonsense about the alleged genocide in Kosovo was being demolished and Serbian churches throughout the province went up in flames, Bolton declared that wishful thinking about the United Nations . . . ran into a wall of reality in Kosovo.
Boltons realism about the Balkans takes courage because it is anti-establishmentarian. His views are light-years away from the ravings about Bosnias or Kosovos multiethnicity by the Left. It is also explicitly opposed to the self-destructive tendency of most neocons to support the Muslim side in the Balkans. Being an apparently normal human being, Bolton does not share William Kristols morbid lust to crack some Serbian skulls.
Boltons verdicts on the International Criminal Court (ICC) and on The Hague Tribunal are equally sensible. Writing in the National Interest three years ago he warned that if Washington were to ratify the ICC convention, the president, the cabinet officers who comprise the National Security Council, and other senior civilian and military leaders responsible for our defense and foreign policy would become the potential targets of the politically unaccountable Prosecutor created in Rome. He subsequently told the Wall Street Journal that signing the letter to the U.N. renouncing Washingtons signature on the treaty establishing the ICC, the Rome Statute, was the happiest moment of my government service. Addressing the Federalist Society in 2002 Bolton declared that justice as defined by the ICC is inconsistent with the attainable political resolution of serious political and military disputes:
Human conflict teaches that, much to the dismay of moralists and legal theoreticians, mortal policy makers often must make tradeoffs among inconsistent objectives. This can be a painful and unpleasant realization, confronting us as it does with the irritating facts of human complexity, contradiction, and imperfection. Accumulated experience strongly favors a case-by-case approach, politically and legally, rather than the inevitable resort to adjudication. Circumstances differ, and circumstances matter. Atrocities, whether in international wars or in domestic contexts, are by definition uniquely horrible in their own times and places.
For the reason of that uniqueness, Bolton addedin what sounded like a perfectly reasonable espousal of the conservative positionthat conflict resolution in the aftermath of bloodshed cannot be subjected to a legal straightjacket because the pivotal questions in the aftermath of a bloody conflict are clearly political, not legal:
How shall the formerly warring parties live with each other in the future? What efforts shall be taken to expunge the causes of the previous inhumanity? Can the truth of what actually happened be established so that succeeding generations do not make the same mistakes?
Those are the key issues, and Bolton understands that The Hague war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)a self-avowed stepping-stone on the road to the global system of universal jurisprudencehas failed to address them. In an interview last October Bolton declared that the ICTY, rather than fostering ethnic reconciliation, has emerged as a threat to regional stability that will create new animosities that lead to tensions in the future. He said the Bush administration wanted to transfer war crimes cases from The Hague back to national domestic courts because the ICTY has no democratic accountability, no checks or balances against the misuse of power:
That is why our strategy with respect to the ICTY is to bring these prosecutions to an end and to return responsibility to Serbia, Croatia and to the other nations . . . because, after all, many of the alleged crimes were carried out in their name and they need to confront that reality. They need to make the decisions whether to prosecute or not to prosecute Serbs or Croats respectively . . . [Such responsibility] should rest on the shoulders of the people who have to live with the decisions they make.
One of the many downsides of any distant court is that it takes away responsibility, Bolton concluded, and it is not conducive to the political maturation of societies that we hope will become democratic. Yet again the quote could have come from our pages.
Bolton is a plain speaker. In July 2003, during the run up to the six-nation talks with North Korea, Bolton described Korean head of state Kim Jong Il as a tyrannical dictator of a country where life is a hellish nightmare. Undiplomatic but true; and while it is necessary to talk to the odious Mr. Kimafter all he does have the nukesit is not necessary to pretend that he or his country are anything but what John Bolton says they are. As Ive written in these pages some months ago,
[Kim] presides over a Stalinist hell-on-Earth but he is not seeking to reunify the peninsula by force. If the goal of the United States is to ensure that his nuclear program is halted, and the main objective of Kim is to ensure the safety of his personal regime, the gap can be bridged . . . The deal should be limited to a clear U.S. undertakingunderwritten by Pekingthat if Kim disarms, and accepts international supervision of the fact, he may stay in power. The losers will be the people of North Korea, who will continue to languish under the most oppressive government in the world. That is regrettable, but preferable to a confrontation that may put nuclear weapons into the hands of people who would like to detonate them in New York or Washington. From his view on many issues, notably concerning the Balkans, it is clear that Bolton is not a run-of-the-mill neocon; we may even hope that he is a real conservative in neocon clothing. The news of his appointment has caused predictable howls of horror and outrage from Europe and sent the proverbial shock waves through world capitals, which is good, especially in the aftermath of President Bushs European tour during which he has made a number of statements that were excessively complimentary to the Brussels Leviathan.
Bolton at the U.N. may not be able to wield too much influence in Washington, but after a couple of years from there he may go on to greater and better things: Albright went from the UN Ambassador to the Secretary of State. Another former U.N. envoy, John Negroponte, if he plays his hand right, may yet become one of the most powerful men in the United States and therefore the world.
The hint is there.
She is as ugly on the inside as she is on the outside.
A lust shared by many posters whose names are well known to us.
Of course, Ronly Bonly bin Laden and the Great Prophet Zarqawi still lust from the sidelines...
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