Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Bolton at the UN

Some people think the nomination of John Bolton as the US ambassador to the UN is a good thing, and I am finding that I agree with many of their arguments. Certainly, a spokesman who shares the administration's view of the world is better than a friendly and competent ambassador who would be constantly overridden by the White House (case in point: Colin Powell).

Still, I don't buy all the pro-Bolton arguments. Anne Applebaum writes in WaPo that:
Unlike, say, the U.S. civil service, or the Japanese bureaucracy, the U.N. bureaucracy is not beholden to a democratic government or even a sovereign government. There is no electorate that can toss the Libyans out of the human rights commissioner's chair, no judicial system that can try corrupt officials. As I understand Bolton's critique of the United Nations and other international institutions (when he isn't being Rumsfeldesque in his turn of phrase) it is precisely this that concerns him: Indeed, he has spoken and written for many years on the threats to America's sovereignty -- and everyone else's sovereignty -- from international institutions that owe nobody any allegiance, are subject to no independent review and have no democratic legitimacy of their own.

The trouble with many U.N. defenders is that they refuse to see this fundamental problem...
I see her point and I am certainly in favor of any reform initiatives from Bolton or anybody else. But I strongly object to the notion that the U.N. is a "threat to America's sovereignty". It may be a threat to everyone else's sovereignty but it's no threat to America as long as we have the biggest gun on the block.

The trouble with many U.N. critics is they forget the U.N. is largely an American creation. Its raison d'etre is to help propegate US values and project "soft power" across the globe. For the price of a small and voluntary loss of sovereignty America gets allies, peacekeepers and help with conflict resolution.

Most Americans think this is an acceptable trade-off. Those who don't should say so instead of trying to scare everybody with all this talk of a "threat to our sovereignty".

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