Bolton Watch is up! This section will always appear at TPM Cafe, but TWN will frequently link to what I and others are writing there.
However, today, I am reposting the first Bolton Watch post here.
It seems appropriate to launch Bolton Watch now as the United States holds the rotating presidency of the 15-member Security Council for February 2006.
The recess-appointed John Bolton chairs the UN Security Council this month and already has shaken up the system by demanding that all members of the Security Council attend a daily 10 a.m. morning meeting.
The other ambassadors are grumbling — but all in all, Bolton Watch supports John Bolton’s ploy here. It’s good to have him engaged on a daily basis with the rest of the world.
While he may think these will be strong-arm sessions, Bolton and the Ambassadors from the other Security Council nations may find that these morning briefings focus their collective minds on serious global problem-solving. Bolton will be beaten up on a daily basis by these Ambassadors if he doesn’t learn to ratchet up his diplomatic tact and objectives.
On another front the International Atomic Energy Agency has referred Iran’s nuclear activities to the UN Security Council. Bolton was never put in the UN to genuinely reform the place, though reform is something that we should support — he was put there to muscle the UN Security Council and the broader UN on Iran.
Ambassador Bolton is a pugnacious nationalist. There’s nothing wrong with nationalism in my view — but nationalism can exist side-by-side with respect and engagement in international institutions, particularly when those institutions protect and enhance our national interests and security.
But this kind of in-your-face, hyper-nationalism taunts the rest of the world to attempt to constrain American power and interests.
Bolton has stated in the past that he does not believe in “the concept of the United Nations”, that the “UN only works when America wants it to work”, that if one whacked off the top of the UN Secretariat, no one would miss it.
When he arrived at the UN, one of the first meetings he had with other Security Council principals had him stepping in and saying:
I’m John Bolton, and I’m here to pursue the interests of the United States.
Those who are here to pursue the interests of the world, please yourself.
Bolton needs to learn that the interests of the United States are enhanced and strenthened — not weakened — by collective engagement with other global stakeholders in responding to the major pandemics, natural disasters, environmental challenges, and transnational security problems that face the world.
While a single nation, like the U.S., can approach some of these unilaterally, the bottom line is that nearly all of the great challenges require a convergence of American and global competencies and effort.
Bolton’s theatrics undermine good will and are preempting credible reform. Not only has he been disruptive to the UN Secretariat, Bolton has undermined the negotiations of his own team at the U.S. Mission.
I’ve been flooded with new information on John Bolton and his work == some of it is small time, and some macro stuff that is pretty shocking.
As a friend of mine inside the State Department recently told me, I have a slew of friends inside the Department and in the nooks and crannies of Bolton’s world who want Bolton Watch to play a constructive role in helping Condoleezza Rice to supervise him.
We are happy to oblige.
More soon, from both myself and a number of other new Bolton Watch bloggers.
— Steve Clemons