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August 01, 2005

Comments

Bush supporters do so on the belief that he is strong on national security. Maybe we should start a list of ways his administration has actively undermined our security. The Bolton appointment, for the reasons you stated, is a good start. The failure to plan for post-invasion Iraq is a biggie.

Senate Democrats already said "screw you" to Bush by filibustering Bolton. Tit for tat. If there was a "screw you" message from Bush, I would reserve it for Senate Democrats, not for the UN or the world. The UN desperately needs reform and a hardass who will push it.

Maybe we should start a list of ways his administration has actively undermined our security.

faith does not bend in the face of any "list"

Senate Democrats already said "screw you" to Bush by filibustering Bolton. Tit for tat. If there was a "screw you" message from Bush, I would reserve it for Senate Democrats, not for the UN or the world. The UN desperately needs reform and a hardass who will push it.

Maybe we should start a list of ways his administration has actively undermined our security.

faith does not bend in the face of any "list"

Every now & then, ol' Trent says something sensible and rattles my worldview. Like when the Air Force was prosecuting a female pilot who'd committed adultery or somesuch, & he said that the AF should back off and leave people alone.

Evidence perhaps that beneath the hair spray and the talking points, some glimmer of native good sense still flickers. (This guy's my senator, folks; I have to console myself as best I can.)

Senate Democrats already said "screw you" to Bush by filibustering Bolton. Tit for tat.

President Bush could have gotten an up=or-down vote on Bolton at any time by making those documents available, but he refused

Perhaps you didn't read the whole post?

The UN desperately needs reform and a hardass who will push it.

Bolton must have a lot of experience with reforming complex organizations to have been given the task of straightening out the UN.

Care to list his prior achievements in this area?

The UN desperately needs reform and a hardass who will push it.

Given the Bush admins track record, I find it hard to believe that anyone still thinks of him as a champion for reform.

I'll give you the hardass though, for better or worse.

Bush said "screw you" to the world a long time ago. Most of the world has replied in kind. In many ways the Bush administration makes life rather easy for us Yurpeans. If he was a bit more polite there would be a feeling of guilt involved in ignoring him. Most of us feel that Europe owes America a debt for shouldering an important part of the burden of defeating the Nazis and nearly all of the burden of facing down the Soviets. So declining requests from courteous people like GHW Bush, James Baker, Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright is distasteful.

But telling Dubya to get lost isn't hard at all. The same I'm sure will be true of Bolton. As Lady Bracknell said, it becomes not merely a duty to speak one's mind; it becomes a pleasure.

The UN desperately needs reform and a hardass who will push it.

Lacking either the intelligence to remember speaking to Federal investigators, or the integrity to speak honestly to the Senate about doing so, I doubt Bolton will do much reforming. He should be highly entertaining, though. I can't wait for him to start beating his shoes against his desk.

Charles: "Senate Democrats already said "screw you" to Bush by filibustering Bolton. Tit for tat. If there was a "screw you" message from Bush, I would reserve it for Senate Democrats, not for the UN or the world."

First, as Dan said, read the whole post. Bush could have had an up or down vote if he had provided the documents that Democrats and Republicans requested. He chose not to.

Second, 'tit for tat' is for children. Especially when playing 'tit for tat' harms our interests, we should expect more from our leaders.

There are a lot of very conservative foreign policy experts around after the last 25 years. To give Bush any possible credit on this at all, you must presume that there was no other possible candidate to compromise on; that Bolton was the one and only absolutely necessary UN Ambassador. That all other candidates (I can come up with a dozen righties in an hour) were so vastly inferior, so completely at odds with Bush's vision, so utterly incapable of providing adequate service, that the confrontation was inescapable.

The man who would be king.

Sifu Tweety, guest blogging for the Poor Man, has it right:

"It’s been clear for a long time that this administration has a desperate fear of backing down, but this is straight up pathological. They are palpably terrified of the fallout from admitting even one strategic blunder. It’s like they view their authority in the Republican party as a precariously balanced house of cards, subject to immediate and catastrophic collapse should even one slender support be removed. Can this really be true? Could we really be as close as one successful filibuster of a mood-disordered diplomat away from a complete political realignment in this country? It seems unlikely, but boy, I hope they’re right."

"Bush could have had an up or down vote if he had provided the documents that Democrats and Republicans requested. He chose not to."

Slightly presumptuous and disingenuous. Most observers believe the information in the requested documents would likely have been disqualifying; which is why they were requested and why (in part,Cheney would prefer to cede nothing) they were denied. The actual presumption is that if the documents were provided there would not have been an up-or-down vote.

"It’s like they view their authority in the Republican party as a precariously balanced house of cards"

If anything is funny anymore, it is the Bush administration achieving its desires and goals (i.e. the Circuit Court "deal") being perceived as a sign of its profound weakness and insecurity.

They wanted Rogers-Brown and Owens;they wanted Bolton; and I think Roberts is their first choice. When they actually lose I might think them weakening.

I'm genuinely curious how Bolton is just the man needed to reform the UN.

I have yet to hear any of his supporters explain how one goes about reforming a major international institution, what kinds of skills are needed, and how exactly they see Bolton accomplishing this.

Anyone? Anyone at all?

Perhaps you didn't read the whole post?

Read the whole thing. It still amounts, politically, to a delay tactic.

Second, 'tit for tat' is for children.

True, and Senate Democrats are the "tit" in that equation, Hil. Not saying that I'm thrilled about Bolton being in there, but if Democrats can't muster a majority against him without resorting to a filibuster, then they didn't make their case.

Bob M: OK: had the documents been provided, the Dems would have withdrawn their objection to an up or down vote, and had Bolton not withdrawn his nomination, or something else intervened (an asteroid? Fire from heaven?) he would have had one, which he might then have lost.

Charles Bird:

If Democrats can't muster a majority against him without resorting to a filibuster, then they didn't make their case.

Uh, glad you think it intellectually honest to ignore at every possible opportunity the fact that the only reason Bolton did not get a vote was because of the refusal of the Bush administration to release records requested by both Democrats and Republicans.

Too bad the Bush administration figured Bolton would lose the vote if they were truthful about his record.

Too bad you figure it proper to blabber the talking points rather than discuss the issue.

Read the whole thing. It still amounts, politically, to a delay tactic.

Correct. By withholding the documents, Bush delayed the process until the recess so that he could make a recess appointment.

Please try to get your facts straight as to who was delaying.


"if Democrats can't muster a majority against him without resorting to a filibuster, then they didn't make their case."

Hypothetically, what if there were no case at all that would cause six Republicans in the Senate to defy the president? And I mean, no case at all. No amount of evidence, no policy too wrong, no crime too serious. Would that be the Democrats' fault too?

The Democrats are in the minority party, so everything the Republicans do is the Democrats' fault for being the minority party.

Come up with a new excuse Charles. This one was weak to begin with--"might makes right," more or less--and is not improving with repetititon.

There was no filibuster.

Charles: Democrats and Republicans asked for documents that they said was necessary to exercise their 'advise and consent' functions, as the Constitution requires. It's hard to see why Democrats should be required to make their case when the administration is refusing to turn over documents relevant to that case.

In any case, though, they did make it. Leaving aside the fact that, by all accounts, Bolton would have straightforwardly lost on a secret ballot from the outset, there are now people who voted for him before (e.g., the gutless Chafee) who are sufficiently disturbed by the possibility that he perjured himself before the Foreign Relations Committee that they have withdrawn their support. So it's by no means clear to me that he'd win in an up or down vote.

And as for equating the Democrats' insisting on the documents they and the Republicans think they need to make an informed choice with Bush's willingness to thumb his nose at the Senate in a way that even Trent Lott thinks is stupid: well, whatever.

"Senate Democrats already said "screw you" by filibustering Bolton."

I suspect this is true in the same sense that Mr Barone gives us an historical Nixon who was "unwittingly" complicit in the Democratic Party's "successful" attempt to "besmirch" his administration during the Watergate scandal.

Charles, I proudly display on my mantel the mind-reading trophy you awarded me from the Tacitus days. And, my other reading disorders have been duly noted.

I wonder, since you have revealed the truth of Senate Democratic thinking, what do you think might have been on the minds of some of the Senate Republicans who thought Bolton came up short?

And, by the way, Trent Lott's objections to Bolton are very refined, but one can only hope the toupeed racist falls down a fiery crevass sometime soon, right after Bolton. That's just in case somebody wants to find cheap irony in the idea of liberals agreeing with the likes of Lott. Although, it is a "Yes".

My bias is a catch-all amateur affair, freely admitted. Several questions, Charles: is your bias, if it exists, merely a signpost which points at all times to the absolute capital T truth? Or is it an annoying hindrance in finding the truth as you see it, despite your evident success at discovering the truth? Or is it more along the lines of Dan Rather's bias: extravagant, resolute, and not subject to self-awareness.

By the way, I agree with McManus that the Bush habit of never backing down for any reason is not perceived as a sign of weakness by anyone in the White House, except those who have left like Powell and the others. That thumb you feel in your eye, that knee you feel in the groin, that thumping of fists on the gorilla's chest you hear is the sign of a smirking tough guy who will find you and piously f--- you.

Charles is here to let us know that we ought to like it.

If he was a bit more polite there would be a feeling of guilt involved in ignoring him.

Indeed, Kevin. Lord knows your moral sensibilities alone aren't up to the task.

So it's by no means clear to me that he'd win in an up or down vote.

In that case, it might have behooved the Democrats to allow the vote and let the chips fall where they might. The fact that they didn't leads me to suspect that they wanted the grievance more than they wanted to keep Bolton out of the UN. Sadly, it's the only kind of victory they're up to these days.

Oh--and Bill Lann Lee says "hi."

Tac: posting rules.

And M. Scott: what I said was that I wasn't sure he'd win a vote now, after the stuff about his having "forgotten" interviews with an inspector general. I don't know that the topic of an up or down vote has come up since then.

The Democrats could have stopped the recess appointment at any time before today by promising an up or down vote--again, the fact that they didn't suggests to me that they were after something to whine about, not actually stopping Bolton.

yes, it's all the big mean Dem's fault. they just forced Bush to appoint the lying jerk.

The Democrats could have stopped the recess appointment at any time before today by promising an up or down vote--again, the fact that they didn't suggests to me that they were after something to whine about, not actually stopping Bolton.

Scott, this makes no sense to me whatsoever, except on a painfully literal level--"They could've stopped the RECESS appointment by permitting a REGULAR appointment."

The "recess" wasn't the problem, it was the "appointment" part.

Anderson: not necessarily; as I said, I don't think it's clear that he would have won an up or down vote now. However, I am also not sure that the GOP would have gone along had the Democrats proposed one, for that very reason. (Nor is it clear to me that it would have stopped the recess appointment.) In any case, since the potential perjury story broke Thursday evening and Bush made the appointment shortly after 10 this morning, there wasn't a lot of time to find out.

My question (and I also asked this at Suburban Guerilla) is WHY is it so important to Bush that Bolton get the UN ambassadorship?
The one answer I've goptten so far is Iran.

Actually, I think Arthur Silber is closer to the truth here: Bolton is a necessary cog in the war with Iran machinery.

This Administration has shown a remarkable ability to cast off losing propositions without batting an eyelash. They're not doing this out of some silly inability to back down.

There's a reason why this is important to them. Silber may be wrong in the specifics, but it's clear that having Bolton in the UN is somehow necessary to what they want to accomplish.

Oh, and I'm pretty sure it ain't UN "reform". They have the UN precisely where they want it - weak and whipped. As they've repeatedly demonstrated with Iraq, they don't really care about graft and corruption.

Winners & Losers

The more positive moderate analysis.

I think the largest gain is one more revelation of the Bush administration's total contempt for process and rule of law. We must try to create a moment like in Stephen King's Dead Zone where Bush grabs a metaphorical infant to shield himself from a metaphorical sniper, and thus reveals the kind of thing he is. We cannot wait for fate and history to help us, but must peacefully provoke the proto-fascist overreaction. To quote myself from Ezra Klein's:

"Do not mistake their patience for moderation. Or, to put another way, nor their restraint in using only those means necessary to their ends as a fastidiousness about means."

Kerry should not have conceded, all bills must be filibustered, all legal impediments availed, civil disobedience employed. We must stir the snakepit.

Bolton is a necessary cog in the war with Iran machinery
Exactly. And he has at the most two years to accomplish his part. Will 2006 be the year we attack Iran?

The other thing to consider is that there must really be something very incriminating, possibly not just to Bolton, in those documents.

I dunno: I think the reason it's important to him is just that he hates to lose. -- I wrote this in comments at Washington Note, but I may as well write it here too: most people have the capacity to stop and ask themselves whether their usual psychological responses are the right ones, if they find themselves in a situation that matters enough to them. There are limits beyond which they won't just follow their own gut reactions without thinking, but rather ask themselves: is this really the right thing to do?

I see no evidence whatsoever that Bush has such limits. Most people develop them either naturally or in response to the real prospect of serious failure. Bush did not develop them naturally, and since he's always been shielded from the consequences of his own failures, he has never had to think such thoughts as: OMG, if I don't get this one right I might lose my job/go bankrupt/etc. The one time he came closest -- when Laura threatened to leave him over his drinking -- what was required was just that he stop drinking, not that he actually think.

So I don't see why the disastrous stupidity of this appointment, even from the point of view solely of his political capital, would be apparent to him. Besides, he seems to think that all you need to do to get results is appear resolute, so even if it were, this might be exactly what he'd do as a result.

Hilzoy, Bush is stupid only if you assume that his actual goals are his stated ones. If you look at what he HAS accomplished -- the enrichment of the oil industry and the empowerment of his cronies, he is VERY successful.
I grew up under the Ferdinand Marcos administration. Things here are just too deja vu for me.

I think the largest gain is one more revelation of the Bush administration's total contempt for process and rule of law.

cough cough Bill Lann Lee cough cough.

Kerry should not have conceded, all bills must be filibustered, all legal impediments availed, civil disobedience employed. We must stir the snakepit.

I suspect the response will be more along the lines of "pointing and laughing" rather than the fascist jackboots you seem so anxious to summon.

In that case, it might have behooved the Democrats to allow the vote and let the chips fall where they might.

In that case, Bush should have released the record requested by both Democrats and Republicans and let the chips fall where they might. So why did Bush Stonewall and preventa Senate vote?

The Democrats could have stopped the recess appointment at any time before today by promising an up or down vote...

They did -- if Bush would release the records requested by both Republicans and Democrats.

Get your facts straight.

votermom: I don't particularly think Bush is stupid; just that this particular move is. But given the choice between (a) stubborn and unwilling to take a loss, ever, and (b) devious in some unknown way that would make it clear (if we knew what it was) that Bolton was actually a good appointment, I'll take (a).

Bwahahahahaha.

ha.

Tacitus: Indeed, Kevin. Lord knows your moral sensibilities alone aren't up to the task.

Hilzoy: Tac: posting rules.

Thank you Hilzoy, but don’t trouble yourself on my account. Aquila non captat muscas, as the Emperor Claudius used to say.

What did Bush ever do to deserve the kind of blindness so frequently displayed by his supporters? Is it because people invest their own egos in his Presidency?
A whole bunch of Republicans, including some who rarely vote in a moderate, let a alone liberal way, have stuck out their necks to oppose Bolton and yet right here on this thread Bush supporters can't even acknowledge their existance. Even when asked repeatedly, not one Bush supporter has been willing to explain how they can justify blaming the Democrats for 'partisan" acts when those "partisan" acts had Republican support.

"I suspect the response will be more along the lines of "pointing and laughing""

Well, a great many instances like GWB's laughing uproariously at Carla Fay Tucker's Christian plea for mercy would suit my purpose. He could stick his arms inside his coat, pretend to be an IED victim, and make jokes about begging for humvee armor and "Please don't cut my veteran benefits." Bwhahahaha indeed.

Bob, I've tried to follow Silber's argument about Bolton's being the necessary player in an upcoming Iran armeggedon, but I just don't get it. If Bush wanted to frame Iran, would he really need a horror like this guy as the spokespiece?

nope, no WMDs under here! heh heh heh.

this is just a classic thread. Prior to this post we have two scathing posts by hilzoy on torture, detention and the rule of law. and the grand total contribution of CBird, Macallan, Tacitus, MSE and the rest of the administration apologists?

zip. zero. nada. the facts are so clear and so egregiously inconsistent with traditional american values that they have NOTHING to say.

but here, where there's the opportunity to throw some dust in the air / blame democrats? they all come charging out of their Redstate safe house.

contemptible.

they all come charging out of their Redstate safe house

someone must've rang the Apologist Alarm - "Quick men! Grab your talking points! We've got a job to do!"

and the grand total contribution of CBird, Macallan, Tacitus, MSE and the rest of the administration apologists?

zip. zero. nada. the facts are so clear and so egregiously inconsistent with traditional american values that they have NOTHING to say.

And once again, when the left is proven to be incontrovertibly right on this matter, they'll forsake all future Bolton posts and leave us to hash out how to take care of the mess he created. Then criticize us for not coming up with better ideas.

It just seems they have no confidence in the administration's proven track record of failure...

I grew up under the Ferdinand Marcos administration. Things here are just too deja vu for me.

No kidding? My dad's a historian of the Philippines; my folks were there when Marcos declared martial law and we were all there when Ninoy was assassinated. My dad was also visiting (a conference in Manilla, IIRC) during People Power, after which his Filipino friends asked him very nicely to never come back again so they could stop having revolutions ;)

And once again, when the left is proven to be incontrovertibly right on this matter, they'll forsake all future Bolton posts and leave us to hash out how to take care of the mess he created.

You underestimate their ingenuity. They'll probably come up with some saga about how Bush had to appoint Bolton, being the only man for the job or whatever. After all, you go to the UN with the diplomats you have, not the diplomats you want.

Then criticize us for not coming up with better ideas.

Anyone want to make book as to when Bolton's going to appear in Charles Bird's Party Of No jeremiad?

"Bob, I've tried to follow Silber's argument about Bolton's being the necessary player in an upcoming Iran armeggedon"

I agree with Silber that Bolton's appointment increases the likelihood of a war with Iran. I don't entirely see Bolton's purpose, as I really have never considered the UN to be particularly important or interesting. Bolton possibly will be more willing to convey threats and blackmail to keep other nations in line, but any important nations would be dealt with at a level above Bolton and UN Ambassador.

In the world of UN diplomacy, calling your counterparts liars and barbarians is impolitic, so Bolton can get away with a lot, but I think the only people paying attention would be smaller countries who see the UN as their stage for world participarion. As Syria somehow voted for the first Iraq resolutiom, perhaps Bolton will be able to muscle the temporary members of the Security Council. So perhaps if Bolton says the mullahs are eating babies, it will provide enough cover for Paraguay's support.

If they are planning a multiple nuclear strike on the underground targets, Bolton can scream back in righteousness all he wants across the General Assembly. I don't see how it will help. Perhaps anyone decent would resign, which would marginally hurt. But we will be in hell indeed.

Gacy killed dozens, Saddam thousands, Bush may be one of the favored few of history to get millions killed.

Nah, I don't get it. If all they need is someone to veto sanctions and enbargoes and comdemnatory resolutions out of the UNSC, they could just tag-team Jenna and not-Jenna in their free time from club-hopping.

He could stick his arms inside his coat, pretend to be an IED victim, and make jokes about begging for humvee armor and "Please don't cut my veteran benefits."
Well, he already had the hilarious skit about looking for WMDs under the desk. I'm sure the families of those killed in the fruitless quest are still laughing about that one.

Nah, I don't get it.

There, I agree with you. Unless maybe the codes of politesse at the UN are such that a known bare-faced lie could be treated seriously. Unknown, shady half-truths, delivered by a man known for honor, didn't produce a coalition against Iraq. Bolton is there for domestic press and international confusion. The Iran connection still makes no sense to me.

Come up with a new excuse Charles.

This isn't judicial nominees were talking about, Katherine. Presidents traditionally had great leeway with appointments, since their job is to forward the agenda of the CinC. I avoid hypotheticals as much as possible, but it still remains that if Republican Senators are so appalled by an appointee they have the constitutional authority to vote him or her down. After all, Senators are ultimately accountable to their voters, even Republican ones.

Leaving aside the fact that, by all accounts, Bolton would have straightforwardly lost on a secret ballot from the outset, there are now people who voted for him before...

If that were true, Hil, why did Senate Democrats filibuster? If they were so confident of the outcome, and if they're so dead set against the man, they would've allowed a vote, thereby permanently putting him out of the UN ambassador picture.

Charles, did you miss the words "secret ballot"?

Richard Holbrooke.

Well, CB, there was that little matter of documents the SFRC Committee requested that the WH refused to send them.

And if Bolton's such a fantastic choice, why did the Committee vote him out with "no recommendation"?

I was ready to believe the President just refuses to lose, but a comment here reminded me of this:

I believe the president was right to oppose the formation of the 9/11 Commission, to change his mind but then oppose fully funding it, to change his mind but then oppose granting its request for an extension, to change his mind but refuse to testify for more than an hour, to change his mind but then testify alongside Vice President Dick Cheney so long as transcripts and note-taking were prohibited.
To avoid losing, the President just has to change his mind. Where's the push for private accounts now? He lost; now the story will be that there never really was a plan for private accounts.

If they didn't have their heart set on Bolton for some reason, we'd hear now, "oh, we had this other candidate in mind all along."

It bothers me that many conservatives think that the UN is irrelevant without the US. If the US fails to remain engaged with the UN it will hurt the US in the eyes of the world, and the UN will end up being a de facto coalition claiming to oppose US imperialism. Enough countries will find it in their best interest to go along with this facade that the global standard of legitimate international behavior could end up being set by China or by a coalition of major powers hostile to US interests. US power is not a law of nature. It is contingent and it could be destroyed if a large enough segment of the community of nations decided to act together to do it.

"If the US fails to remain engaged with the UN it will hurt the US in the eyes of the world, and the UN will end up being a de facto coalition claiming to oppose US imperialism.Enough countries will find it in their best interest to go along with this facade that the global standard of legitimate international behavior could end up being set by China or by a coalition of major powers hostile to US interests."

That is what the UN is NOW. That is what the UN is even under someone like Clinton.

Personally I think Bush should have given up on Bolton. The recess appointment wasn't necessary. Probably just as well to let the UN seat go empty for a six months. Wasting political capital on Bolton is stupid.

That said, quite a few people around here have a deeply mistaken idea about what the UN actually is, and that is making the debate about Bolton look really stupid.

CB:

If that were true, Hil, why did Senate Democrats filibuster?

Drill a hole in your skull and insert these facts -- the Bush administration refused to release documents that Dems and some Repubs thought very material to consideration of Bolton's nomination. The Dems made it clear that Bolton would get his vote if the documents were delivered -- there was never a filibuster in the true sense of the word. The Dems did refuse to proceed to a vote without the documents -- hardly a "filibuster" as you like to misuse the word. Bush chose to stonewall, and then performed a recess appointment at the first opportunity.

During the stonewall period, more ugly facts developed about Bolton, creating further questions as to the nomination. A vote would have been very interesting. Again, Bush chose the recess apopointment instead of full disclosure and a Seante vote.

But I imagine you'll stick with your fantasy version of events -- facts being so inconvenient.

That is what the UN is NOW. That is what the UN is even under someone like Clinton.

What is it with this bizarre conservative fantasy that the UN is this implacable foe of the United States? Perhaps Sebastien could enlighten on the many sanctions regimes the UN has hoisted on the US?

That said, quite a few people around here have a deeply mistaken idea about what the UN actually is

Quite a few people make statements like these: condemning without informing.

"The Iran connection still makes no sense to me."

Look, if we nuke Iran we are NOT starting WWIII. Russia will not join Iran militarily, China will not seize the opportunity to grab Taiwan, Pakistan will not provide nuclear aid to its Muslim brother. Because they will understand how the madmen in the Whitehouse will respond.

The old consensus out of Nuremberg and the Hague and Bretton Woods is dead, perhaps killed by Bushco, perhaps simply a facade all along. The Steve Clemons and other State dudes will learn that persuasion is a joke, that cooperation based on ideals is a lie, that the moral highground is uninhabited, that power and force is all that matters and has ever mattered. Bush and Cheney will teach them the world of Strauss and Thucydides.

So the world response will be diplomatic and economic. And Bolton will be the dude to tell Canada to rethink its vote on sanctions.
Diplomacy will become war by other means.

The point is not the actual attack on Iran. I doubt Bush will give much warning, time for Iran to bury and hide its facilities, time for coalitions to form against us.

The point is, after the fait accompli, what new governing structures arise from the burning rubble of the post WWII consensus. "Old Europe" will probably be on the other side, and Blair will have that deer in the headlight look again. South America, Africa, East Asia will have to guess on the eventual winner. Moral considerations will be irrelevant. Bush will have the guy in the UN who understands the whip.

The UN doesn't do things directly to the US for the same reason it doesn't do things directly to any of the veto-holding powers. It is structurally incapable of doing so. Maintaining an ambassador merely to veto things and for no other purpose is most of why we shouldn't abandon it altogether.

The bad news about the UN is that it really does function against US interests when it gets chances and the good news with respect to that is that it is almost an entirely ineffectual organization that isn't worth half the time we put into it.

The UN is particularly awful at the thing that many liberals seem to expect it to be good at--contributing to peace in the world. It is really bad at that. It is really good at looking like it is doing something when in fact it is just ignoring a problem--see especially nuclear proliferation and genocide. It is marginally good at letting its semi-autonomous branches (such as the World Health Organization) do good work.

What is it with this bizarre conservative fantasy that the UN is this implacable foe of the United States?

there's a big red white and blue billboard on the side of NC 70 W, just outside of Kinston, that reads "US Out Of The UN, NOW!" . i wanted to get a picture of it, but couldn't get the camera out in time.

some people feel pretty strongly about this, i guess. why? beats me.

It is really good at looking like it is doing something when in fact it is just ignoring a problem--see especially nuclear proliferation and genocide

well then. i can see why conservatives are so angry about the Republican party.

The UN is particularly awful at the thing that many liberals seem to expect it to be good at--contributing to peace in the world. It is really bad at that.

How's World War III treating you?

The UN is particularly awful at the thing that many liberals seem to expect it to be good at--contributing to peace in the world. It is really bad at that.

Compared to what? No UN at all, or compared to some fantasy ideal about what the UN should be accomplishing?

Here's a thought question for you. Over the last 60 years, would the world have been more or less peaceful had there been no UN? My answer would be that for all its faults, it nonetheless has contributed to a greater level of world peace. If you think not, it would be interesting to hear why.

The bad news about the UN is that it really does function against US interests when it gets chances

So...the UN, or any international institution for that matter, should always conform to whatever the US national interest du jour is?

I believe they call that empire.

There have not been, and will not be, consequences. How has the unilateralism of Bushco hurt them? How have torture and war crimes cost them? Pray tell. I'm waiting.

They torture, and bomb Fallujah, amd let Iraq and Afghanistan descend into chaos to show they can, and to show that nobody really cares. The Geneva Conventions won't protect you, the Hague Treaty is fought for by no one.

They will bomb Iran, and the world will pout, and Bush will say ok, we control Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States and Iraq and Iran and we will decide who gets oil and who doesn't. And Russia and France and China will not start a nuclear war. They will maybe go into a depression, but mostly they will follow orders.

Sebastian - the UN regularly acts against the interests of individual members. That's what it's *for* - to force compromises that help to avoid armed conflict. It's far from perfect, but it needs reform, not neglect and hostility, which is what the Bush administration policy amounts to.

The Dems made it clear that Bolton would get his vote if the documents were delivered

Nobody is that naive.

...oh wait.

Bush recess appoints the UN ambassador so he doesn't have to release documents the Senate requested.

What on earth must be in those documents?

That said, quite a few people around here have a deeply mistaken idea about what the UN actually is, and that is making the debate about Bolton look really stupid.

Seb,

I actually think a lot of the Bolton brew-hahah was a proxy battle about control of information. When has Bush ever given up damaging information willingly? Never. They demand that everything be kept secret, "we'll tell you what we want you to know and nothing more" is their motto.

I'm even open to the idea that the requested documents were not all that damaging, but they withheld them as a matter of principle. I don't think that is the case, but it wouldn't surprize me.

Macallan: If the Dems would not have allowed a vote -- which they had pledged to do -- why not call their bluff?

When someone is bluffing with your money you don't call, you laugh, up the ante and play your hand.

I think there was laughing during Steve McQueen or Paul Newman movie card/pool games, but it was usually fat-guy, suspendered character actors like Gleason or E.G Robinson doing the chortling ...

...and then some chair-throwing or some gunfire or at least some witty fatalistic banter was exchanged.

In this case, we have an ethicist posing a polite ethical question and we get a guy who is usually clever and funny coming up with nothing but the bwa-ha-ha.

I don't think she's bluffing, but you're not making eye contact, Macallan, which might be a sign of a guy with a weak hand. :)

Here comes the flick-knife.

I think there was laughing during Steve McQueen or Paul Newman movie card/pool games, but it was usually fat-guy, suspendered character actors like Gleason or E.G Robinson doing the chortling ...

...and then some chair-throwing or some gunfire or at least some witty fatalistic banter was exchanged.

In this case, we have an ethicist posing a polite ethical question and we get a guy who is usually clever and funny coming up with nothing but the bwa-ha-ha.

I don't think she's bluffing, but you're not making eye contact, Macallan, which might be a sign of a guy with a weak hand. :)

Here comes the flick-knife.

Twice, he shouts into the ether.

"Here's a thought question for you. Over the last 60 years, would the world have been more or less peaceful had there been no UN? My answer would be that for all its faults, it nonetheless has contributed to a greater level of world peace. If you think not, it would be interesting to hear why."

I think the UN tends to prolong conflicts not resolve them. I would be interested to hear what major conflicts you think the UN helped with. For example, I think the UN was just next to awful during the Cold War. The major conflict it got involved in happened only because the Soviets weren't there to veto, and even that was resolved in such a way as to exile the North Korean people to slavery for three generations (so far). Its record on non-proliferation (even among signatories) is atrocious. It has only 'disarmed' states which were almost totally willing to do so on their own, while letting places like North Korea (hmm what a coincidence that should come up again) become nuclear powers almost completely unchallenged by the international community. See also Iran pretending to think about complying while buying themselves more time. The record on genocide is an unbroken string of studious non-involvement and denial for decades. Couldn't get involved in the Serb-Croatia breakup until after the US acted 'unilaterally'. Did zilch as the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Where are the big UN successes? Aceh? Israel-Palestine? The Kashmir? Tibet? Burma? Laos? Cambodia? Europe avoided war because of the nuclear standoff between the US and the USSR.

"Sebastian - the UN regularly acts against the interests of individual members. That's what it's *for* - to force compromises that help to avoid armed conflict. It's far from perfect, but it needs reform, not neglect and hostility, which is what the Bush administration policy amounts to."

It doesn't force compromise. It forces the illusion of compromise while the malefactors continue merrily along. It fosters a sense of important action among Europeans while nothing really gets done. How utterly civilized.

What does it do with genocide? It just lets the killing go on unabated until the killing side either succeeds or tires of it. What does it do with non-proliferation? It just lets the cheating signatories go run inspectors around while they make progress toward nuclear weapons--see especially Iraq in the late 1980s, Iran now and North Korea and (who knew?) Libya in the 1990s. The UN idea of a diplomatic triumph is shaking hands, smiling and declaring that "important progress has been made" while the women and children get killed just out of view. The UN is fabulous if that is your idea of progress.

That isn't my idea of progress. The UN is for feeling good while the murders continue. The UN is like random searches on a subway--it lets governments pretend they are doing something about the problem.

Throw in the phrase "Orwellian nightmare of United Nations dominated ultra-liberalism" and you just might be able to get a job as a comic book scriptwriter, Sebastian.

What does it do with non-proliferation? It just lets the cheating signatories go run inspectors around while they make progress toward nuclear weapons--see especially Iraq in the late 1980s, Iran now and North Korea and (who knew?) Libya in the 1990s

So basically you claim the UN was screwing things up about as bad as Bolton. Huh. And in a governmental body where every powerful participant has a veto, you are shocked - SHOCKED! - at inaction. Here's the real question, are you willing to give an organization like the UN veto power over other nations' (including America's) security decisions, and to provide the UN with the firepower necessary to back that up? If not, stop whinging about the powerlessness of the UN because you have exactly the type of UN you desire.

One does, however, wonder about the peaceful, genocide-free heaven on earth that you seem to imagine the pre-UN era to be...

Can some cardplayer explain Mac's analogy above?

Biden, from back when there could have been a vote: "we are willing to vote 10 minutes after we come back into session if, in fact, they provide the information"

I'm not complaining that I want the UN to be more powerful. I want people to stop pretending that it is important. Why would I want to give an organization which consists mainly of passive-aggressive European democracies whose idea of doing something about genocide is blocking even tepid US action, whose idea of non-proliferation treaties involves private hand-wringing and kleptocratic thug states who want to game the system any more power? You aren't making sense to me felixrayman.

And I especially want people to stop pretending the UN is important when they aren't willing to deal with the corruption which is rampant throughout every facet of its existance. Those who complain about Halliburton should try looking a bit at food-for-oil.

I would be interested to hear what major conflicts you think the UN helped with.

The three I remember are the world wars which didn't follow the Soviet invasion of Hungary, the Suez crisis and the Cuban missile crisis.

When it comes to such things as a war in central Europe, a Soviet attack on Israel and a nuclear exchange involving two superpowers, I think there's a lot to be said for an organisation which helped the parties concerned to back away while saving face to some degree. Without it you really don't know what people like Eden, Ben Gurion, Kruschev, Eisenhower and Kennedy might have done. They were all proud men. Compromise didn't come naturally.

Sebastian: And I especially want people to stop pretending the UN is important when they aren't willing to deal with the corruption which is rampant throughout every facet of its existance.

Then I would like you to stop pretending the Bush administration is important, when you're not willing to deal with the corruption which is rampant throughout every facet of its existence.

Those who complain about Halliburton should try looking a bit at food-for-oil.

Evidently you were unwilling to look at food-for-oil hard enough to see who was compromised by it. Notice how the Bush administration has quietly dropped talk of a major investigation? Or has your refusal to support the Bush administration over torture cost you your up-to-the-minute delivery service of Bush talking points?

So, reaction fron conservatives:

Charles Bird and M. Scott Eiland both lie - same lie in both cases, too, oddly enough.

Sebastian Holsclaw just hates the UN and is evidently delighted to see the President he still supports (while holding his nose about torture) give a kicking to it. Sebastian's public opposition to democracy and support for terrorism may explain his hatred for the UN.

Macallan just talks nonsense, and Tacitus shows up to spit abuse.

Slartibartfast and Von, sensibly, have their heads under the pillow. Pillows. Unless they're sharing one.

I see from the NYT that the reforms Bolton was supposed to work on have mostly been agreed already. Bolton will arrive just in time to claim the credit. Nice work. As for the reforms, they are really earth-shattering. Japan will get a seat on the Security Council. And the human-rights whatya-macallit that the Libyans chair is being shut down. And an American has got the job of checking the Secretary General's accounts.

Now that's really going to put the cat among the pigeons, isn't it? Bad guys of the world, tremble in your boots. The leaner, meaner UN is coming to get you. John Bolton is going to kick in the door of the saloon while the Japanese ambassador guards the back. There's no escape.

Slartibartfast and Von, sensibly, have their heads under the pillow. Pillows. Unless they're sharing one.

No need to be petty, Jesurgislac. Even disregarding your penchance for needless pettiness, this was uncalled-for. I've expressed no opinion in this matter simply because I don't feel that I've got a sufficiently informed one, which is an option you might want to investigate for yourself.

I've expressed no opinion in this matter simply because I don't feel that I've got a sufficiently informed one

I can see having no opinion on Bolton's fitness for the post given the stonewalling by the admin on releasing the requested documents. Even though I feel there's already been sufficient evidence to show his unfitness, I can understand someone feeling differently about it.

But do you really have no opinion on whether the recess appointment is a good idea or not?

I can see having no opinion on

Well, I didn't exactly say no opinion, now, did I? Go back up, reread, and think again.

But do you really have no opinion on whether the recess appointment is a good idea or not?

Putting aside the no opinion conclusion: are you asking whether I think recess appointments ought be allowed in general, or are you asking whether I think they ought to be disallowed in this particular instance?

Slarti: No need to be petty, Jesurgislac.

You're right: I ought not to have niggled you and Von for having no comment to make.

Sorry for that. I equated not having a sufficiently informed opinion to having none.

Regarding the recess appointments, I'm referring to whether it's a good idea in this instance. Not whether or not they should be allowed. It's the Presidents prerogative to take this action and I'm not criticizing the tactic per se.

However, circumventing legitimate bipartisan concerns about his fitness for the post is going to waste even more of Bush's "political capital", apparently for no reason other than an opportunity to thumb his nose at the Senate.

It's lead to installing an ambassador who's politically damaged and almost certainly going to be viewed as illegitimate (debateable concern) and temporary (indisputable fact). Do you think he's going to be doing any reforming under these current circumstances? I know you're no longer claiming the Republican party, but do you feel the preservation of this win at all costs mentality is a worthy goal?

As an aside, it astounds me that there are posters on this board who think appointing a misanthrope as U.N. ambassador is a recipie for reform.

"Sebastian's public opposition to democracy and support for terrorism may explain his hatred for the UN."

That's ok, your desire that we not invade Afghanistan after 9-11 explains a lot too. Shall I describe that as support for the Taliban? Was it?

I missed that, Sebastian. Why, that looks like, among other things too rude to mention, a posting rules violation.

"The three I remember are the world wars which didn't follow the Soviet invasion of Hungary, the Suez crisis and the Cuban missile crisis."

You count those as UN successes? Your best argument would be the Cuban missile crisis, and even in that the necessity for UN existance to get to the same resolution in much the same way is highly doubtful.

after which his Filipino friends asked him very nicely to never come back again so they could stop having revolutions ;)

Heh. :)
So what does your dad think? Is Bush not a perfect Marcos clone when it comes to crony capitalism?

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