Sunday, July 23, 2006

The New York Times on Bolton 
John "'Stache" Bolton has won over many of his critics at home. But the New York Times seems to have forgotten whom he's supposed to be working for:

But diplomats focus particularly on an area with less evidence of instructions from Washington and more of Mr. Bolton’s personal touch, the mission that he has described as his priority: overhauling the institution’s discredited management. Envoys say he has in fact endangered that effort by alienating traditional allies. They say he combatively asserts American leadership, contests procedures at the mannerly, rules-bound United Nations and then shrugs off the organization when it does not follow his lead.

In other news, John Bolton leaves the toilet seat up, always eats the last piece of chocolate cake, and won't share his power with the other children, "even (sniffle) when (sniffle) we ask him (snuffle) nicely!"

I like this guy more every day.

Splash, out


Aren't you rather missing the point of the NYT article, Jason? The thrust of the quoted comments (by US allies, please note) is that Bolton's abrasive style tends to inhibit his ability to get things done--ie, to effectively pursue *American* national interests.
They are only blasting Bolton because he doesn't perform the 'Ass Kissing' duties like the dumocrats always have.
Someone has to abrasive to the bunch of worthless assholes now in the U.N. Our taxdollars are going down the rathole by the millions and nothing, absolutely nothing has been accomplished by the worthless U.N. is the past 20 years.
Well, I'll give UNICEF some points. And I think there have been some tremendous accomplishments in the arena of public health...though I'm not convinced some other organization wouldn't have taken it up in the UN's stead.

I don't buy the argument that Bolton's personal abrasiveness hampers our national interests in the slightest. In the end (and I'm sort of a desciple of Hans Morganthau and the Realist school of thought when it comes to international relations), nations will act in their rational interests to maximize their access to and preservation of power, and then to maximize their economic interests.

Diplomats get their marching orders from their governments. If it is in Ghana's interests to play ball, then Ghana's government will order its diplomat to play ball and vote with the US, and it doesn't matter what the Ghana diplomat thinks about Bolton personally.

Conversely, the Ghana representative and Bolton could be swapping spit in the shower together on the side, and if it is not in Ghana's interest to vote with the US, Ghana will not vote with the US.

Personal feelings about John Bolton are simply irrelevant in the coalition building process.

Most of the effective organizations that you refer to, such as the WHO and UNHCR, pre-date the UN. They've bismirched themselves by associating with this failed organization.
Scott--Actually, the WHO was formed in 1948, and UNHCR in 1951--the latter at the same time as the negotiations for the UN Refugee Convention, a cornerstone of the international refugee regime. Both were subsequent to the 1945 establishment of the UN, and both were established under its auspices.

Jason--Funny you should mention Morgenthau, since he was a huge believer in the value of skilled diplomats. Indeed, he specifically identified the quality of a nation's diplomatic corps as a key element of national power (see Chapter 8 of his classic Politics Among Nations). Arguing that diplomatic skills don't matter since power is all that counts is like arguing good NCOs don't matter because it all comes down to muzzle velocity...
I would argue, and Morgenthau argued, that diplomatic skill mattered much more in bygone eras, before the age of the telegraph and telephone. Now diplomats can receive instructions from their governments on their Blackberries, in real time.

You cannot argue that diplomatic skills, beyond literacy and the ability to articulate one's own position, which at high levels can be assumed, are important and simultaneously argue that nations make decisions rationally.

The two positions are mutually falsifying.

And 'Stache's abrasiveness itself may be the product of a rational decision.

On small matters, it may help a diplomat to be a nice guy so he can get the VIP of ACMECO an audience with the local Minister of Commerce or do another small favor here and there.

On the big questions? Not so much.
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