I have kept my powder dry these last several days on John Bolton’s nomination to serve as America’s Ambassador to the United Nations. I have just been trying to get my head around this gesture by Bush & Co. — and think that there is virtually no centrist ground to occupy when it comes to his appointment.
I originally thought that Bob Zoellick’s lateral move from serving as U.S. Trade Representative to the position of State Department Deputy Secretary finally showed some gains of the realists over the neocons in the Bush administration. Bolton’s nomination though demonstrates that neocons are still in dominance throughout government — and within State, shows that realists and neocons are neck and neck.
Bolton’s portfolio within the State Department bureaucracy keeps him and his retainers well-placed to both spy on and constrain Rice and Zoellick.
Here is the deal. I just don’t think America’s core interests can be served by this appointment. I don’t mind a U.N.-skeptic going to the United Nations, but at least that skeptic needs to believe in the essential role and function of a reformed United Nations — and needs to be a constructive force in achieving that goal.
I have thoroughly read through Bolton’s statements and writing and can find nothing that indicates that he would be anything but destructive.
Democrats and moderate Republicans have to stop ceding decisions to the President when those decisions are so harmful to the nation as a whole. We have to stop saying, “we will oppose the President even though Bolton’s nomination will probably go through.”
We need to embarrass the government on this decision — and suggest better alternatives, other Republicans who would be a far better choice as our representative to the United Nations, than John Bolton.
Here is what we need from you in the blogosphere — and I realize that some of you may not agree that this fight is worth the effort. Please indulge those of us who feel that opposing Bolton is in your interest, as well as ours.
We need language to reward and inspire Senators willing to oppose Bolton — and language that shames those willing to stand with Bolton and who essentially want the United Nations to be a non-entity. It is worth remembering that Bolton once stated, “The Secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If it lost ten stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”
Josh Marshall has been successful with this kind of approach by first launching his Faint-hearted Coalition and Conscious Caucus in the Social Security Privatization debate. He has now launched the Credit Card Corps and the Consumer Champs in the battle over bankruptcy legislation.
The challenge of those of you interested is to help generate language that might divide the world (well, in this case the U.S. Senate) between those inspired by principled global engagement (a long-time Republican norm) and those not.
A couple of good ideas thus far include:
(those opposing Bolton)
The Ten Stories Coalition
(those supporting Bolton — or who are undecided)
But rather than having a flurry of brain-storming sessions with folks I know, it would be interesting to hear from those of you who are creative word-smiths.
The winner will get the very first Washington Note coffee mug — that are now in production.
Thanks for your support — and brilliant ideas — in advance. We need this language fast.
— Steve Clemons