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April 27, 2005

Nuts & Bolton

I've been following the ongoing uproar involving Bush's nominee for the UN Ambassadorship, John Bolton, with a bit of interest.

Some years back, I did a stint with the UN in a war zone, and I never saw an organization with more potential to do good, but less ability to execute. In short, the components that comprised this particular mission made a hash out of it, thanks to a hellbroth of a spoils system for key jobs, contractors that siphoned off money like a wino sucking down Mad Dog, and individual component nations staffing the peacekeeping corps with military units that were rotten with corruption.

The leader of that particular mission was a civilian from an East Asian nation, a washed up socialist politician who hired all of his cronies to be highly paid, low-utility deputies. They in turn awarded contracts to their friends, some of whom did a bang-up job, and others who acted as money-holes into which the world's tax dollars poured.

Meanwhile, the leading military force present, which was comprised of the world's most tendentious ethnic group, the name of which rhymes with "trench," who hail from a country that rhymes with "silly pants," was riddled with corrupt officers. They were engaged in large scale black marketing, selling goods to the downtrodden people we were there to protect. An investigation of this situation by the UN's internal security forces lead to an assassination attempt on the chief investigator, a man of great integrity and international military stature, who was very near to naming names at the time he was attacked. And another military element of the peacekeeping force, representing a middle eastern nation, had a problem with molesting the little boys who lived in neighborhoods outside their encampment. Meanwhile, the money was swirling down the drain in a miasma of moral rot, and there was much handwringing as massacres in the countryside continued. It was hell on earth, maintained in a UN-ordered stasis, thanks to the jackasses running the mission, and the insanely pacifistic rules of engagement that cost tens of thousands of people their lives.

In short, it a was a needless bloody disaster.

George Bush now comes along, and plans on throwing John Bolton into this maelstrom. Kofi Annan has said that Bolton would be a good pick. The Boston Globe, no friend of this Administration, has said that John Bolton is the right bull for the UN china shop. People who shouldn’t like John Bolton, yet who care about the UN, say he is a good pick at the right time for the right reasons, in light of the UN's problems.

Yet he's being opposed by the Democrats, as near as I can tell, because he "won't serve the institution's interests." That's an honest-to-God Joe Biden quote. First off, I'd be more worried about Bolton serving U.S. interests at the UN, before I got worried about whether he was the right guy to advance the UN's interests within the U.S. Second, I think the presence of a guy like him would actually serve the UN's interests, even as he serves the US' interests; after all, a robust and honest UN that does good things in the world, is in the US' national interest.

So why the stink? It seems Mr. Bolton is a bit short tempered, and a bruising bureaucratic infighter, and this has made him a lot of enemies in Washington.

To my way of thinking, he's exactly the kind of hardass we need to send to the UN, if we want to save it from the hands of the crooks, the cronies, and the petty tyrants. If your football team sucks, you don't send Richard Simmons; you shut your freakin' piehole and send Vince Freakin' Lombardi.

People forget that Senator Jesse Helms went to the UN, and laid down the law a few years ago, and got a standing ovation for his efforts. He made it exceedingly clear that if the UN did not start to clean its own stables, he would see to it that the U.S. cut off funding. He also made it abundantly clear that the world needs an effective UN, an organization that respects national sovereignty but which can serve as a beacon for the rule of law, a clearing house for charity among nations, and an honest broker for transnational conflicts.

John Bolton strikes me as such a man. He's the desperate kind of pick that you'd send to a failing company that you are trying to save. People need to be fired, we need new accountants and lawyers, and we must get rid of the crooked security guards who are robbing the joint blind at night when nobody is looking. Bolton knows this and that’s why Bush is sending him.

The Bolton pick, along with the Wolfowitz pick for World Bank, sends a message to the rest of the world. Diplomacy for too long has been about papering over our differences with other countries - a process-oriented focus which prevents actual resolution of problems. Anybody who has had a throwdown disagreement with somebody else knows that the first step to resolving a problem, is to honestly admit that it exists, and to get the other guy to admit that it does, too. You can't do this when your ambassadors are too shy to call a spade a bloody freakin' shovel. A good example is the work of diplomats during the Elizabethan era. The Turkish and English diplomats were so politically correct in their representations, that the Sultan and Queen Elizabeth each thought the other had become a subject. Both nations would have been better served by a couple honest ambassadors.

The UN, one week after the two top laywers on the Volcker oil-for-food scandal investigation quit in protest over yet another coverup, needs such a man. So do the rest of us. As much as I dislike the idea of a supra-sovereign body, I dislike the idea of not having a common forum for real citizens of the world, our nation states, to meet and discuss common interests even more.

Posted by Blackavar at April 27, 2005 10:23 PM | TrackBack
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Good post, Black-avar. One note, however: The Boston Globe apparently opposes Bolton's nomination. The piece you linked to was a counter opinion by Thomas M. Boyd, "former assistant attorney general and former deputy to John Bolton."

(MT-BL doesn't seem to like your handle.)

Posted by: Lynxx Pherrett at April 29, 2005 02:10 AM

Thanks for the background on that, Lynxx. I stand corrected. Well, at least they let a strong counterpoint argument make it into print.

As for my handle, I think MT-BL thinks its a spam reference to some kind of Russian inter racial pr*n or something. I typically have problems using hyphens with MT, which apparently reads the two horizontal slashes as a photograph of worms preparing to copulate, and thus similarly offensive.

Posted by: Blackavar at April 29, 2005 11:23 AM
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