Wrong man for the right job?

OPPOSITION to John R Bolton, the White House’s choice to represent the US in United Nations, is growing by the day. From pundits to editorial writers to law makers, everyone’s been debating the case of Bolton since President Bush picked him up for the high profile job.

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Published: Fri 1 Apr 2005, 10:35 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 3:10 PM

The high brow New York Times has slammed the appointment as a ‘terrible choice at a critical time’ wondering if Don Rumsfeld will be next chosen to ‘negotiate a new set of Geneva Conventions?’

Now, 59 top former US diplomats have added their voice to the din. The ex diplomats, who have served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, have written to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee condemning Bolton as the ‘wrong man’ for the job and urging the Senate panel to reject the nomination.

Why does Bolton invite such strong emotions and opinions? The opposition is largely based on his record and reputation as a neocon who has little patience for the UN and its faithful adherence to international law and norms. The fact of Bolton going on record questioning the world body’s relevance hasn’t really helped the matters. In a now-famous speech in 1994, Bolton declared: "There is no such thing as the United Nations. If the UN secretary building in New York lost ten stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference."

Is it any surprising then Bush’s choice for the critical job that involves interaction between the superpower and the world’s highest decision making body has the international community worried? The appointment is being interpreted by some as the ultimate snub for the UN.

But instead of sitting in judgment on Bolton even before he’s reported for duty, wouldn’t it be better to wait and watch how he goes about his job? Also, by picking up Paul Wolfowitz for the World Bank and Bolton for the job at UN — men with a controversial reputation but close to Bush — the US president may be trying to demonstrate the importance he attaches to these responsibilities. Wolfowitz and Bolton may even help the US leader improve his communication with the UN and rest of the world.

Bolton’s appointment comes at a critical time when the US-UN relationship is going through a critical phase. The job of US ambassador to UN has always been important but never more so than today. Let’s hope Bolton proves his detractors wrong by reducing the gulf between his country and the UN. Certainly, the world would be more at peace with itself if the superpower and the world’s peace keeper are at peace with each other.

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