July 23, 2006

Heckuva Job, Bolton

White House moves to confirm John Bolton to his temporary U.N. post. Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich, once a harsh critic, now backs him for the job. Dems say he still has not turned over documents they sought last year.

NYT says Bolton is not popular at the UN, where diplomats see his as "a stand-in for the arrogance of the [Bush] administration itself".
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.

Six ambassadors separately offered similar accounts of an incident in June that they said captured the situation. All were from nations in Europe, the Pacific and Latin America that consider themselves close allies of the United States, and they asked to speak anonymously in commenting on a fellow envoy.

Mr. Bolton that day burst into a packed committee hall, produced a cordless microphone and began to lecture envoys from developing nations about their weakening of a proposal to tighten management of the United Nations, his chief goal.

Gaveled to silence, he threw up his hands and said, “Well, so much for trying something different.”


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