Friday, March 25, 2005
Kudos to Bolton for telling it like it is
None of Bolton's detractors is worried that his bluntness will jeopardize the administration's policy goals. Quite the contrary. They're concerned that the administration has policy goals -- that it isn't yet willing to subordinate its national interest to the polite transnational pieties. In that sense, our understanding of "diplomacy" has become corrupted: It's no longer the language through which nation states treat with one another so much as the code-speak consensus of a global elite.
For much of the civilized world the transnational pablum has become an end in itself, and one largely unmoored from anything so tiresome as reality. It doesn't matter whether there is any global warming or, if there is, whether Kyoto will do anything about it or, if you ratify Kyoto, whether you bother to comply with it: All that matters is that you sign on to the transnational articles of faith. The same thinking applies to the International Criminal Court, Darfur, the Oil-for-Fraud program, and anything else involving the U.N.
That's what Bolton had in mind with his observations about international law: "It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so -- because, over the long term, the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States." Just so. When George Bush Sr. went through the U.N. to assemble his Stanley Gibbons coalition for the first Gulf War, it may have been a "diplomatic triumph" but it was also the biggest single contributing factor to the received wisdom in the decade and a half since that only the U.N. has the international legitimacy to sanction war.
Bill C: Take a listen to the end of the Democracy Now! broadcast in this post which discusses why Bolton is such a horrible (great) choice for UN ambassador. My only question is which side of Mt. Rushmore for Chimpy McBushitler's face?
MattO: Recent WSJ article has a good quote:
Right now, the U.N. is beset by two great crises. The first is of efficacy. Over the past few years, the world has seen a depressing series of demonstrations of everything the U.N. can't do. It cannot prevent mass killing in Rwanda, Bosnia and now Darfur . It cannot competently (never mind ethically) administer an Oil for Food program. It cannot speedily deliver assistance to the victims of natural catastrophes. It cannot enforce its own Security Council resolutions. It cannot stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It cannot even define terrorism.
I think assigning Bolton sends the signal that diplomacy for the sake of diplomacy is over. The UN has been, and continues to be, little more than a self-aggrandizing debate club.
This move by Bush can save the UN from complete irrelevence; whether or not that's a good think I'm not sure.