"Armageddon" Bolton disembarks at the UN

Campaign News | Friday, 11 March 2005

Bush's new UN ambassador is veteran of dirty war against Nicaragua


Special for Granma International

WHILST pushing for a new anti-Cuba resolution at the UN’s Human Rights Commission, the US government has appointed as ambassador to the international organization an individual who took part in the dirty war on Nicaragua, defended the fascist regime of Augusto Pinochet and opposed the United States being submitted to an International Criminal Court?

No one in George W. Bush’s White House thought to consider that John Bolton, a critic of the United Nations itself and "heir" to Senator Jesse Helms, may not be the ideal person to occupy such a post or that it may be considered a lack of respect for this international assembly. However, these were the opinions of dozens of diplomats at the New York headquarters of the institution on hearing the news.

One of the most open critics of the United Nations and author of the phrase, "if the UN building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference," from his post as undersecretary of State, he publicly attacked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, when he announced his desire to limit armed conflicts and establish the supremacy of UN forces. With respect to the financial debts owed by the United States to the international organization, he proposed the withdrawal of US contributions.

A reflection by Helms in January 2001 concerning John Bolton makes one shudder if we consider that this individual will occupy Washington’s seat at the UN headquarters: "John Bolton is the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon, if it should be my lot to be on hand for what is forecast to be the final battle between good and evil in this world."

A lawyer educated at Yale University - just like many illustrious representatives of the extreme right in the U.S. - Bolton has occupied important posts in the administrations of Reagan and Bush Sr.

Along with Daniel Fisk, Bolton (then the Assistant Attorney General) was part of a team used to attack the Sandanista Revolution in Nicaragua when Otto Reich was working to conceal the drug-trafficking activities of CIA operative Félix Rodríguez and his right-hand man, international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.

Thanks to the protection of the judicial system, Reich and his men were never brought before the courts for the crimes they committed.

With Otto Reich, Bolton has never wasted an opportunity to work in support of the Cuban-American mafia and their misinformation campaigns against Cuba, alleging that the island possessed WMDs and had developed a biological weapons program that it had handed it over to other states, something that was even denied by Donald Rumsfeld himself.

An expert at the Heritage Foundation, he actively helped this neo-fascist organization to penetrate the US government where it applies its hegemonic theories. A critic of international treaties, he criticized UN peace-keeping missions but applauded the bombing of Serbia.


With respect to the occupation of Iraq and prospects for new military interventions, according to Israeli daily Haaretz, in February 2003 the then Assistant Secretary at the State Department said that, after defeating Iraq, the U.S. would "deal with" Iran, Syria and North Korea. Bolton has always been an outspoken hard-line party member against those countries and has complained that the UN has not adopted the necessary energetic actions against them.

But the most scandalous aspect of Bolton’s appointment - at the same time that the UN’s Human Rights Commission is meeting in Geneva and a new anti-Cuba resolution is being plotted in the corridors - is that this is the man who "unsigned" his country from the Rome Treaty concerning the creation of an International Criminal Court (ICC) that was signed by Bill Clinton on December 31, 2000.

The distinguished US representative to the UN has at no time concealed the fact he wishes to protect the Pentagon’s troops from lawsuits and has also confessed that his main concern was that the president, the members of his cabinet that make up the National Security Council and other civil leaders should not become potential targets for any judge who is not subordinate to the interests of the United States.

For Bolton, it is not important to fight against the crime of genocide or crimes against humanity. The fundamental issue is that the US president and the officials who surround him do not have to account for their actions.

After announcing his decision to Kofi Annan in a letter dated May 6, 2002, Bolton told The Wall Street Journal that it was the happiest moment of his governmental career.

After stating that Bolton’s most consistent critic in Washington was Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, who died recently in an aircraft accident, columnist Ward Harkavy at New York weekly The Village Voice commented: "With the appointment of Bolton as UN ambassador, the rest of us have an increased chance of joining Wellstone sooner than we want to."

John Bolton: An unforgivable choice as UN Ambassador

Council on Hemispheric Affairs press release

March 10, 2005

? The appointment of John Bolton to be U.S. ambassador to the UN surely must be an April Fool’s antic by the White House.

? The Bush administration stoops to a new low by nominating possibly the least appropriate figure in U.S. public life to fill a post that should excel at building bridges and not tearing them down.

Pathetically enough, the chair that Adlai Stevenson once sat in is now scheduled to be filled by John Bolton, which must be considered a cruel piece of humor on the part of the White House. While the Bush administration ostensibly has set out on a campaign to reform the United Nations, astonishingly enough, it just has nominated Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the international body. Akin to calling in the clowns, those familiar with his record believe that there is no one in U.S. public life today more ill-suited for that position than Bolton. His nomination reflects nothing less than an affront to the American people, the diplomatic community and people of goodwill everywhere. It is not a matter that he is too conservative; rather, it reflects the concern generated by his stint as Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security in the first Bush administration where he was demonstrably its most extremist member.

By selecting an individual who has spent the last decade repudiating basic norms of international cooperation and civility, his appointment is tantamount to an absolute rejection of multilateral cooperation and U.S. accountability. Throughout his outrageous career in public life, no one has been more notorious for their right-wing ideology and no one has more consistently disgraced this country’s good name than Bolton, with his rants, inventions, outright lies and bumptious formulations. As a result, he has been a repeated embarrassment to this nation’s international reputation. The fact that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed off on his nomination indicates the lamentable lack of standards that her tenure will likely take and that she will figure to be an illiberal factor in international diplomacy. Inevitably, his appointment will trigger an uproar in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and in other venues where foreign policy issues are a matter of serious concern.

As a senior State Department official during Bush’s first term, Bolton mocked the fundamental value of the UN as well as the broader international community by successfully leading the push for this country to reject U.S. support of the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as seeking the exclusion of social policy efforts from international development aid. Within the Bush administration, he was quickly embraced by the rest of the clutch of ferocious hawks that eventually came to include Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte. This group has given U.S. foreign policy an extremely right-wing tilt where it has emphasized unilateralism, the continuation of the U.S. saber rattling and the rejection of relativism along with accountability for various U.S. overseas initiatives.

Disdain for Multilateral Cooperation

“ There is no such thing as the United Nations,” portentously declared John Bolton to a panel of the World Federalist Association in 1994, and then added, “The secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If it lost ten stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.” The contradiction between the crudity, if not banality, of his beliefs and the importance of his new appointment could not be more stark.

Undermining recent attempts at fence-mending diplomacy with Washington’s traditional but recently estranged European allies, Bush’s bizarre appointment demonstrates that this administration plays by very perverse rules. As multilateral efforts are underway to diffuse nuclear threats in Iran and North Korea, Bolton’s involvement, as has been seen in negotiations with both countries, only have escalated tensions. After the U.S. Congress passed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1999, he described supporters of that document as “misguided individuals following a timid and neo-pacifist line of thought.”

In May 2002, Bolton outlandishly came out with a bombshell charge, with no supporting evidence, that Cuba not only possessed “at least a limited offensive biological warfare research development effort,” but had provided such technology to “other rogue states.” When challenged by Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) to produce his evidence before a hearing of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, he declined to appear. His charges were so bereft of any substance or even a tincture of verisimilitude that even his Bush administration colleagues rushed to disavow any association with them. In addition to refutations by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell (who said “we didn’t actually say it [Cuba] had some weapons”) and former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Southern Command Gen. Charles Wilhelm (who claimed that he never had received any evidence to support Bolton’s claim), Rumsfeld indicated to reporters that he was unaware of any links connecting Cuba’s biomedical industry to bio-weapons research. Despite being called upon to do so by several senators, Bolton refused to attend a Senate hearing where he could present any evidence of Cuba’s alleged bioweapons program, a rather telltale admission that he would be unable to substantiate his charge under sworn testimony. The dearth of any compelling evidence linking Cuba’s highly lauded pharmaceutical industry to terrorism was eventually confirmed by a 2004 wide-ranging Congressional investigation, which peeled away at the last vestiges of credibility behind Bolton’s assertions.

No Accountability for the U.S.

Throughout Latin America, Bolton repeatedly has betrayed a total lack of comprehension of the policy consequences of his rhetoric and his near-illiteracy regarding the fundamentals of a democratic polity. In a 1998 article in the conservative publication The National Interest, he insisted that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) gave an “erroneous” ruling by determining that the U.S. had violated Nicaragua’s sovereignty through its clandestine military operations against a Sandinista administration, which had cost the small Central American country several billion dollars and with which it ostensibly had normal diplomatic relations. Similarly retreating from any U.S. accountability for its actions overseas, Bolton opposed the international indictment of former dictator Augusto Pinochet for atrocities during his seventeen years of tyrannical rule in Chile, in which thousands were kidnapped, tortured and killed by the CIA-facilitated regime. Bolton’s reasoning was that, “Chileans made their choice, and have lived with it.”

International cooperation does not exactly harmonize with Bolton’s edict that the U.S. government must be free to act without restriction or accountability. His comments show utter disregard for any possible victims of the adverse consequences of U.S. foreign policy and an unwavering commitment to preemptive intervention and unilateralism. Bolton’s staunch opposition to multilateralism is an outright rejection of the central ideals of the United Nations, a body where he now aspires to join a long line of distinguished U.S. public figures that have held that position. To think that this bizarre figure will occupy the chair in which once sat Stevenson may give some indication of the bottom feeder that the Bush administration has reached down to appoint.

The Bolton nomination reinforces the notion that the Bush White House is incapable of selecting well prepared professionals of a moderate outlook to high public office, be it in the executive branch, the bureaucracy or the judiciary. It seems that its nominees require an ideologically in-your-face component that is both insulting to the intelligence of the American people and highly revealing of how little President Bush respects the process of selecting qualified candidates to high offices. Rather, he continues to trash and radicalize this function with irresponsible and entirely inappropriate appointees. The U.N. will face a fierce challenge if Congress finds the Bolton nomination acceptable and confirms him, thus guaranteeing an epoch of the vulgarization of U.S. representation to that body.


More from John Bolton, in his own words:

On Washington’s adherence to multilateral international accords: “Treaties are law only for U.S. domestic purposes. In their international operation, treaties are simply political obligations" (Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal, November 17, 1997).

On International Law: “It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so - because, over the long term, the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States” (Insight Magazine, 1999).

On the how the ICC would affect U.S. senior civilian and military leaders: They would become “the potential targets of the politically unaccountable Prosecutor created in Rome” (The National Interest, Winter 1998).

On the Bush administration’s decision to withdraw from the ICC: Bolton asked and was granted permission to sign his name on the letter notifying the UN of Washington’s actions even though he played no official role in the decision-making process. He later told The Wall Street Journal, it was “the happiest moment of [his] government service.”

On advocating market reforms over efforts to improve basic living standard in developing countries: He criticized the Clinton administration for continued funding of “programs on international population control and environmental matters rather than fundamental economic policy reforms in developing countries” and assailed then Vice-President Al Gore for his “preference for condoms and trees instead of markets” (Op-Ed in the Washington Times, June 25, 1995).

On the UN: Bolton reasserted his scriptural fidelity to unilateralism, writing that if Washington were to overly legitimize the UN, “its discretion in using force to advance its national interests is likely to be inhibited in the future" (“Kofi Annan’s UN Power Grab,” 1999, Weekly Standard).

On Weapons Treaties: During a 2001 UN Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, Bolton told delegates that Washington was opposed to any move to restrict civilian access to weapons or a treaty that would serve to “abrogat[e] the constitutional right to bear arms.”

On efforts to add a negotiated verification process to an international bio-weapons ban: He told conference participants that the provision was, “dead, dead, dead, and I don't want it coming back from the dead."

This analysis was prepared by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

March 10, 2005

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being “one of the nation’s most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers.” For more information, please see our web page at www.coha.org; or contact our Washington offices by phone (202) 223-4975, fax (202) 223-4979, or email coha@coha.org.

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