When nominations by the President make sense, they typically fly through without a hitch. Just check out the line-up that Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will discuss on Friday, July 22nd:
Ms. Karen P. Hughes
To be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, with the Rank of Ambassador
The Honorable Josette S. Shiner
To be Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business & Agricultural Affairs
Ms. Kristen Silverberg
To be Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
The Honorable Jendayi E. Frazer
To be Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
I wager that most of the questions and exchanges with the group will be with the celebrity-nominee, Karen Hughes, whom all on the Committee know well as President Bush’s powerful “message czaress.”
But a chunk of questions really should be directed toward Andy Card’s former assistant, Kristen Silverberg, who is being considered for a job (Asst. Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs) that John Bolton had years ago — when he was tasked with reversing the “Zionism is Racism” resolution in the United Nations.
A TWN reader just sent in this note about Ms. Silverberg and whether she will be up to one of the most serious challenges of this job — SUPERVISING JOHN BOLTON. That’s right, John Bolton will report to her, at least theoretically.
The reader comment:
This Friday, the SFRC is having a hearing to confirm Kristen Silverberg to be assistant secretary of State for international organizational affairs. She would be Bolton’s boss, if he ends up as ambassador.
She’s only 34, and beyond her work as deputy to Andy Card, has just one year of working for the CPA for Bremer on her resume (which apparently makes her a UN expert). But beyond her relative inexperience, does anyone believe that she’ll be able to call the shots on Bolton?
I believe that there are many competent and visionary 34 year olds out there, and Ms. Silverberg may be one. I don’t know her — and I suspect that working around Bremer and Andy Card were very useful experiences.
But that aside, we should know a bit more about how she would deal with someone like John Bolton.
Here are some questions for the Foreign Relations Committee to pose to Ms. Silverberg:
1. Would you authorize the doubling of Washington, D.C.-based office space and personnel to support John Bolton’s tenure as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations?
2. The administration is on record opposing Henry Hyde’s U.N. reform bill and does not endorse compelling the withholding of U.N. dues in exchange for compulsory actions by the United Nations. However, John Bolton has endorsed such a formula in the past.
How will you assure that John Bolton pursues stated administration policy and not some version of policy that coincides with the Vice President’s views but which are informal and unofficial?
3. What is the traditional access that a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations has to super-secret National Security Agency intercepts? If the Ambassador is able to make requests for NSA intelligence materials, will Mr. Bolton’s requests be screened by you in advance?
4. What mechanisms will you establish to fully vet, control, and administer speeches that Mr. Bolton wishes to give? This was a problem for him in the past, and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage required that every Bolton speech be cleared.
How will you formalize this process?
5. If Mr. Bolton engages in behavior similar to that documented in his behavior towards Christian Westermann, Rexon Ryu, and others, what steps will you take — should you take — to curb such abuses?
6. Are you prepared to deal with someone of the fiery temperament of Mr. Bolton who has stated oftentimes in his past role that he did not work for the Secretary of State, nor the Deputy Secretary of State, but directly for the President of the United States — thus trying to rationalize a work plan for himself that differed from what his hierarchal superiors instructed him to do?
7. Are you prepared and fully aware — eyes wide open — of the brinksmanship that is ahead in dealing with America’s operation at the United Nations if Mr. Bolton finds his way to the head of it?
Have you been offered combat pay?
There are probably many other great questions to pose. Feel free to list more in the comments section, and I’ll send those that make sense to the Staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
— Steve Clemons
(Kudos to N.P. for forwarding the comment.)