If there's a positive side to President Bush's appointment of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations yesterday, it's that as long as Mr. Bolton is in New York, he will not be wreaking diplomatic havoc anywhere else. Talks with North Korea, for instance, have been looking more productive since Mr. Bolton left the State Department, and it's hard not to think that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's generally positive performance in office is due, in part, to her canniness in dispatching Mr. Bolton out of Washington.Please - remedial training? The Times editorial page is sinking like a stone because of dreck like this.
But the appointment is, of course, terrible news for the United Nations, whose diplomats have heard weeks of Senate testimony about Mr. Bolton's lack of respect for their institution and his deeply undiplomatic, bullying style of doing business...
...This may be the first time a world superpower has used its top United Nations post as a spot for the remedial training of a troublesome government employee.
I have stated my problems with Bolton before; I don't think he's a particularly effective diplomat. Over-the-top rhetoric like the above, though, makes me think he may be the right man for the job, after all; any appointee that gets the Times this uptight can't be all bad. What about the substance of Collins' charge (I know, it's unsigned, but we know who calls the shots)? Let's let Kofi Annan have the last word:
"We look forward to working with him [Mr Bolton]," Kofi Annan told reporters.
However, he gave a word of caution for Mr Bolton amid reports that the new US ambassador would be forcing the US reform agenda of the world body.
"It is all right for one ambassador to come and push [his agenda] but an ambassador always has to remember that there are 190 others who will have to be convinced... for action to take place," Mr Annan said.
Well, it's a more responsible statement than the Times piece; but a word of caution to Kofi, too...there may be 190 others, but they don't represent the United States. Bolton will, and I wish him well, despite my misgivings...