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Marjorie Cohn: Bolton Nominated to Destroy UN

Bolton Nominated to Destroy UN

By Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Monday 04 April 2005
Click To See Video Of John Bolton In His Own Words

John Bolton as US ambassador to the United Nations reminds me of what a US commander in charge of the destruction of Ben Tre city said during the Vietnam War, “We had to destroy the village to save it.”

Sixty-two former American diplomats, most of whom served in Republican administrations, have signed a letter urging the Senate to reject Bolton's nomination. In their opinion, Bolton's "past activities and statements indicate conclusively that he is the wrong man for this position at a time when the UN is entering a critically important phase of modernization, seeking to promote economic development and democratic reforms and searching for ways to cope better with proliferation crises and a spurt of natural disasters and internal conflicts."

They claim Bolton has an "exceptional record" of opposing US efforts to improve national security through arms control, and charged he has made "unsubstantiated claims" that Cuba and Syria were working on biological weapons.

In 1994, Bolton declared, "There is no such thing as the United Nations." He has also said, contemptuously, "The Secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If it lost ten stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."

Pulling no punches, Bolton displays not even a pretense of diplomacy or multilateralism: "There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only power in the world and that is the United States when it suits our interest and when we can get others to go along."

As UN ambassador, Bolton would make the world a more dangerous place. Bolton spearheaded a successful campaign to prevent the Senate from ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, clearing the way for increased testing of nuclear weapons. He led both the US withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and the US renunciation of the International Criminal Court. Bolton hailed his announcement that Bush was taking the United States' signature off the ICC treaty as "the happiest moment" of his government service.

His combative stance toward Pyongyang led the North Koreans to denounce Bolton as "scum." When asked why he opposed offering North Korea incentives to abandon its nuclear weapons program, Bolton replied, "I don't do carrots."

Bolton does sticks – big sticks. He is proud of the bronzed hand grenade in his office, which symbolizes his reputation as a bomb thrower.

"John Bolton has been totally unapologetic about his radical prescription for dealing with the proliferation threat," according to Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "The main problem is that it hasn't worked anywhere."

In a bald-faced attack on the long-standing treaty law of the United States, Bolton wrote in a 1997 article in the Wall Street Journal, "Treaties are the 'law' only for U.S. domestic purposes. In their international operations, treaties are simply 'political' obligations." He has also opposed the conventions on land mines, child soldiers, and small arms, and aided and abetted the cover-up of the Iran-Contra scandal.

Despite the State Department's conclusion that Iraq had not sought to purchase uranium from Niger, Bolton successfully pushed for Bush to lie about that in his pre-Operation "Iraqi Freedom" State of the Union address.

Ironically, while Bolton decries the efficacy of the UN in furthering US interests, David Kay, former CIA chief weapons inspector, noted that Iraq had apparently abandoned its production of weapons of mass destruction "in large part because of Baghdad's concerns about the United Nations weapons inspection process."

Although Bolton has nothing but contempt for the United Nations, he is a cheerleader for the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. These two institutions were created under the auspices of the UN, accountable to the General Assembly. But they have taken on a life of their own, outside the UN system and oversight, and are responsible for imposing cruel structural adjustment programs on developing nations, forcing impoverished people to accept social cutbacks in order to receive loans and assistance.

It is no accident that Paul Wolfowitz was selected as the new chairman of the World Bank. He now controls the economic arm of his military-economic blueprint for world domination, first laid out in his 1992 Pentagon Defense Planning Guidance draft.

Bush's selections of Wolfowitz and Bolton are part of a consistent strategy to undermine and cripple the UN system. Bush is also blocking a visit to Washington by the UN Human Rights Commission's rapporteur on the right to food. Swiss-born Jean Ziegler seeks to examine the negative impact the Bush administration's toughening of the anti-Cuba blockade has had on the Cuban people's right to food.

Ziegler said, "the Bush regime wants not only to destroy the commission, reduce it and transfer it to New York in order to control it, but also to exercise state censorship against special rapporteurs [who are supposed to be objective reporters]." He charges that Bush officials want the UN commission to select "special rapporteurs who agree with their world view, including the war against terrorism."

On April 7, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider Bush's nomination of John Bolton.

Former right-wing Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), once chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, described Bolton as "the kind of man I would want to stand with at Armageddon."

If John Bolton is confirmed as US ambassador to the United Nations, we will be one step closer to Armageddon.


Marjorie Cohn, is a contributing editor to t r u t h o u t, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists.

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