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May 13, 2005

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Ok, this one convinces me. (I'm unreasonable, but not totally unreasonable). I didn't care that Bolton didn't like the UN--as far as I'm concerned that is likely to be useful when dealing with the UN as currently configured, but the nuclear thing is a big deal.

Regarding the NPT however: "Enforcement would be so much easier if any enrichment was just out of the question. Banning it wouldn't be impossible: even if signatories insisted on having nuclear power programs, we could set up some agency to sell uranium to those countries under very strict supervision, and then take the spent fuel away when it had been used."

It seems to me that this pushes the day reckoning way up (which is a good thing). It makes it so we don't have to play hair-trigger games with trying to figure out if someone is right on the verge of gaining nuclear weapons. But there is a big 'but'. What is meant by enforcement? One of the key current problems is not that the NPT is difficult to enforce (though it is). The problem is that the international community doesn't seem to want to enforce it if enforcement involves anything more than tut-tutting through diplomatic channels.

we could set up some agency to sell uranium to those countries under very strict supervision, and then take the spent fuel away when it had been used.

Who is the "we" in this sentence? If "we" is "the Bush administration", why would any nation in the world trust an agency that the Bush administration had set up? (And if "we" is the US, how is this - at the moment - any different from "the Bush administration"?)

An independent international agency to control nuclear proliferation would be useful indeed, but it would be useful only insofar as it also controlled American nuclear proliferation - and can anyone seriously imagine any US administration - even assuming that one reasonably trustworthy gets elected after Bush - creating an international agency that was allowed to tell the US what to do?

Right-wingers (see Sebastian, above) don't like the UN having the theoretical power to tell the US what to do, even if that power is purely theoretical: an agency with power to enforce its edicts even in the US would be absolutely unacceptable. (See the reaction to the ICC, passim.)

But a supposedly independent agency that was controlled and created by the US would be unacceptable to other countries: no one right now has any reason to trust Bush, and the legacy of mistrust may be of longstanding.

I repeat: I see no real reason to object to Bolton as the US's UN Ambassador. He cannot make the US's stock fall lower than zero.

America cannot expect to get a tighter NPT without giving something in return - at a minimum, a credible promise to refrain from attacking countries which are no threat to America. Bush won't give any sort of promise and if he did nobody would trust him. Stop worrying and learn to love the bomb. It is the only guarantor of peace we have.

As to Bolton, bring him on and lets see what he does when the French Ambassador farts in his general direction. Handbags at twenty paces? May the best man win.

I repeat: I see no real reason to object to Bolton as the US's UN Ambassador. He cannot make the US's stock fall lower than zero.

If we have learned nothing else from the twentieth century, let us at least absorb this: things can always be made worse.

While the whole Bolton boondoggle has has great entertainment value, watching the staunch Bush supporters scramble around trying to explain away the mountains of evidence has been very amusing, I can't get too excited about him actually getting the job.

I don't think he could our relationship with the UN worse if he tried. Quite frankly, he could get up on the table and urinate on random members of the General Assembly during a speech by Kofi Annan and I can't imagine that there would be many countries who would think less of us for that than they do now.

While there is a part of me that enjoys watching the Bush Administration give itself black eyes, there is another part that is afraid of the damage someone like Bolton can do. Mostly the damage is behind the scenes stuff, the kind of thing that is never widely known or understood, but has bad long term consequences for us all. Hilzoy outlined a prime example. So I hope his nomination fails.

What would Bush do if the nomination is rejected? Just re-nominate him(?).

Jesurgislac, do you really want to give this admin an opportunity to dig this country into an even deeper hole given their past performance?

"What would Bush do if the nomination is rejected? Just re-nominate him(?)."

An interesting question. I would prefer Bolton go down, tho only for the damage done to the Party. The President should be given great deference on appointments, especially foreign policy appointments;the Senate should actively exercise its "advise & consent" duty....what this should add up to is a consensus candidate determined behind closed doors, before the name becomes public or hits a committee.

If the Bush administration wanted a confrontation, it should not take a loss lightly. This is not the kind of deal where a Senator will vote against Bolton in exchange voting for the nuclear option. This is directly about power & intimidation, by the WH's choice. They should resubmit.

"By action Bush meant the hard work of diplomacy"

I object to this. Bush deliberately keeps his language vague in order to keep his options open, and Bush himself probably didn't know what he meant.

What does a Senator do when it becomes clear that the President's decision-making is so poor that it would be irresponsible to defer to the President?

My pet theory is that Secretary Rice will do anything to get Bolton out of Foggy Bottom, but, for some reason, she is not allowed to fire him. This may mean that she will have to lie about how qualified he is.

I cannot understand why any administration would actually want this man in any position of power in the government. He not only harms the United States, but he harms the Bush Administration and the Republican Party.

Seb: "Ok, this one convinces me." -- my lord, there was a point after all! (Fwiw, I have never been concerned that he "doesn't like the UN"; the related concerns I do have are (1) that he seems to have no constructive vision of what a reformed UN could be, which means that his dislike is unlikely to lead to anything good, and (2) that having said the sorts of things he's said, about the loss of 10 stories at the secretariat and all, will make any criticism he offers easy to dismiss. Of course there are the other concerns -- foreign policy end-runs, etc. -- but that's another matter.)

I second Anarch's remark: things can always get worse. Let's not try to see if he and I are wrong.

Jes,

"Right-wingers (see Sebastian, above) don't like the UN having the theoretical power to tell the US what to do, even if that power is purely theoretica"

This is where you so miss the point. I can't speak for Sebasion, but the reality is I don't trust the U.N.

The U.N. is about as corrupt as it can be. It seems that you want the U.S. to give away the farm to people who are like minded with you.

No way, Jose! There's already the E.U. let it start an organization that can flounder around doing nothing.

This is where you so miss the point

Very much on the point. You don't trust the UN, therefore you dislike "the UN having the theoretical power to tell the US what to do, even if that power is purely theoretical."

L'affaire Bolton is passive-aggressive politics at their finest. As far as I can tell, the entire exercise is driven by (1) a desire to win, at whatever cost, for fear the charade of this whole Administration will come crashing down--

"should Bolton’s nomination fail, it would be a strong setback for President Bush’s foreign policy. Democrats and many in the media would treat it as no less than a rebuke of Iraq’s liberation and the Bush doctrine of promoting freedom abroad. American critics in the United Nations would be able to cite Bolton’s defeat as evidence that even the American people are dissatisfied with America’s image and role on the world stage."(Eric Pfeiffer--NRO)

--and (2) a desire to actually render the UN as ineffective as possible, not to reform it, but to wound it further, damage it even more before destroying it, a desire that, for the most part, dares not speak its name.

When does the Senate actually vote on Bolton?

"When does the Senate actually vote on Bolton?"

Steve Clemons of The Washington Note (look left at blogroll) is a good source for hard data, tinged with just a hint of anti-Bolton obsessive hysteria. If there is pro-Bolton site with as timely news, someone feel free.

The WH and Frist say they would like to get a vote before Memorial Day. Barbara Boxer has put a "hold" saying she wants some information. A "hold" requires 60 votes to break.

I doubt the WH will bring Bolton to a vote until they have the firm count. I do not know if Bush cares enough to make a recess appointment.

How much would Bush have to care to make a recess appointment? What possible drawback would there be at this point?

KC,
Though unprecedented in this administration, there is a better chance of Bush now pulling Bolton out of the process than of him appointing him during a recess.
Voinovich's comments make very good TV and 2006 elections loom large.
An appointment now would piss of a huge number of republicans who don't want to take a hit for such a lousy candidate.

Would that it were so, carsick. Would that it were so. Five bucks says recess appointment, vs. withdrawn/voted in or out in full Senate.

How does a recess appointment piss off Republicans who don't want to walk the plank for Bolton?

Quite the opposite, I'd say: a recess appointment takes them off the hotseat. It's another one of those fait accomplis Bush is so fond of.

Then the GOP majority can pull a rules change to say that recess appointments are permanent, so Bolton's nomination never comes to a full vote.

Voila!

Steve Clemons points today to a Newsweek article suggesting that Bolton's sin in this matter was one of commission rather than omission -- that he actively prevented State Dept. employees from preparing for the NPT review conference.

Which is quite interesting, Jeremy, if you accept his supporters' assertion that Bolton was pursuing Bush's "real" foreign policy, which is how they justify Bolton's sabotaging of Colin Powell and other State Department officers.

So... if Bolton was obeying Bush's "real" orders, I guess the NPT is something the Bush Admin doesn't really want.

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