Enough Talk: Bolton Wants Real Muscle on Darfur but Suggests No Course of Action


John Bolton has preempted a Security Council briefing on Darfur. It was over Bolton’s ambivalence about coordinated international action in the case of genocide that Senator Russell Feingold — a staunch believer that the President should nearly always have the team he or she wants — decided to oppose Bolton’s nomination to the United Nations.
During the Battle over Bolton, the U.N. Security Council voted to refer war crimes suspects from Darfur to the International Criminal Court. The United States abstained in that vote — but most believe that had Bolton been Ambassador at that time, America would have opposed the referral.
Stygius has more on this.
John Bolton may be sending a signal that he prefers action to words. But at the same time, he has not suggested a course of action for Darfur that can be taken seriously. In the mean time, it seems appropriate to know more — and to monitor the growing, gnawing horror there.
Bolton’s behavior reminds me of what the AFL/CIO told me once when I worked in Senator Jeff Bingaman’s office, when the Democrats had slipped into the minority. I was working on a number of policy matters involving labor and was trying to get some new ideas and “solutions” on the table. An AFL representative chided me, saying that “We are about telling the American public what the problems are. This isn’t our time to fix things.”
Shame on them.
I am waiting for John Bolton to show more of himself in this new job, but if he is there to obstruct and to complain — but not there to constructively engage, innovate, and fix problems — then Bolton Watch will be launched, not to taunt him but to expose and make transparent his every move.
Some Bolton observers have written to suggest that this stuff is old now — and that Bolton is doing a reasonably good job. My objection to Bolton was never exclusively his personal behavior or demeanor. It was his perspective, his record of performance, his judgment about the ethics of non-profits and partisanship, his lack of respect for the system of checks and balances in government, his subversion of the Secretary of State’s foreign policy initiatives, and his desire to lead this nation towards reckless and unnessary potential conflicts and even wars.
John Bolton is hampered where he is — but not completely so. The Darfur briefing in the scheme of things is small, though many will disagree. It is small, compared to what are likely to be enormous collisions in the Security Council over Iran and other matters.
However, Bolton needs to be pushed to be a constructive force in the U.N. If there is too much talk and not enough action — then produce the action. Inspire it.
But don’t just silence those who want to make sure that global neglect of Darfur is not allowed to stand.
— Steve Clemons