Richard North, 01/08/2005  

Faced with interminable filibustering from the Democrats, aided by one or two Republicans who tend to vote with the Dems, anyway, President Bush announced that choosing the US ambassador to the UN was too important to leave to politicians.

He exercised his powers to make a recess appointment, which will have to stay till the next session of the Senate, which will begin in January 2007. So, John Bolton is off to the UN and we are all waiting with bated breath what he might achieve there.

The whole saga has been something of a storm in a teacup and in line with the policy the Democrats have recently decided on: as they are not very good at winning elections, they are going to try other methods to thwart the winning party.

The endless demands to see yet more documents about Bolton and the rather dubious stories of his “bullying” analysts who disagreed with him – other accounts point to the fact that said analysts tended to call it wrong on such matters as Cuba – were a game to postpone any decision.

It is Bolton’s well known uncomplimentary views on the UN that were the problem. However, with the oil-for-food scandals still unfolding and threatening to engulf all sorts of people, maybe SecGen Kofi Annan (father of Kojo) himself; with stories coming out about despicable behaviour by UN troops and officials in various African countries and in the Balkans; with Srebrenice and Rwanda, the great failures, revived this year; with more failures and more, though lesser scandals unfolding, the idea of an American ambassador who is not greatly taken by that organization’s pretensions looks quite attractive to more than just the conservative wing of American politics.

There is some gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands among the transnational great and the good as well as various international diplomats who proclaim in broken terms that Bolton is the face of “ugly America”. (Actually, he looks reasonably distinguished.)

It has always seemed to us that these people know not whereof they speak. If the multilateralists and transnationalists are serious about the need to keep the UN’s pre-eminence and really do want strengthen that body, then they should support the idea of a root and branch reform.

The idea that such a thing could happen without a forceful American contribution to the debate is a joke. SecGen Annan will go on producing ever more plans that will be vapourized by their own vagueness and there will be an attempt to carry on “business as usual”. And that will probably start the disintegration of the UN. What will the tranzi great and the good do then?

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