Wednesday, March 09, 2005
In attempting to make Bolton look like a bad choice, the NY Times editorial page does two things (at least in my opinion): (1) highlights the problems with the U.N.; and (2) shows Bolton knows what he is talking about and will be a great representative to the U.N.

Going point by point:

1) Bolton stated that if he were to redo the security council it would have only one member - the U.S. - because this reflects the power distribution in the world today.

Bolton's point, as I see it, isn't saying that U.N. security council should only have one member. He seems to be saying that in reality there is only one member. And this makes sense. China vetoes (or abstains if they are playing nice) from any U.N. action involving internal matters of a nation. Genocide in Darfur - China will veto any U.N. action to intervene. So what happens? The U.S. is forced to act outside the U.N. because the U.N. does not have the ability to lead, or to do anything of importance, in situations such as that. I think that was Bolton's point.

2) We should recognize Taiwan's Independence.

Who disagrees with this? Our fear of China's reaction is the only thing that prevents us from doing this. But from just about any point of view, recognizing Taiwan as independent would be the "right" thing to do. Is the NY Times pro-totalitarianism suddenly? Using this as a purported basis against Bolton just makes the NY Times look foolish in my opinion.

3) The U.S. should stop negotiating with North Korea until they reform.

Given the recent actions of the North Koreans, it turns out Bolton may be right on this issue also. I read one op-ed or commentary where the person believed that North Korea and Iran were flexing their nuclear-capability muscle because they were no longer afraid of the U.S. military after what is happening in Iraq. (perhaps someone said this on Meet the Press - Krugman perhaps?) I was frankly shocked to hear someone say that. I think it is clear that exactly the opposite is happening. Iran and North Korea are scared and acting out of fear. They are not scared of the U.S. per se, they are scared about what is happening in the Middle East, and are trying to forestall any pressure that the U.S. or International community may put on them to reform. There is some logical similarities between this and the China-Taiwan situation.

If Iran and North Korea were not scared of us, they wouldn't need to show strength through words. Talk softly and carry a big stick - that is what you do when you are confident in your power. You generally only act (talk) strong when you are in fact weak. So I think Bolton's advice on North Korea may be a very good idea right now.

4) U.N. Dues and International "Law."

Bolton is correct as a matter of fact, regardless of whether this is a wise strategy or not. International "law," is no law at all really. And the no government is truly bound by any treaty - any nation could reneg. Certainly there would be political consequences, but for nations like the U.S., that is all there would be. That said, I don't think the U.S. should stop paying dues to the U.N. (well actually I sort of do, but that is a side issue), and certainly most treatise favor the U.S. so there would be no point to breaking them.

But I don't think Bolton was suggesting we do either of those things, he was just stating a fact. One that happens to be unpopular with the NY Times, but it is a fact nonetheless.

So all in all, I think the NY Times does a great job of laying out the reasons why Bolton will be a great U.S. representative to the U.N. For more support, read Andrew Sullivan's post here.
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I am an attorney in Chicago. Politically speaking, I am an indepedent that tends to lean conservative on fiscal issues and progressive on social issues. I try to remain as unbiased and open-minded as possible. Please email or post any comments, and especially criticisms. If something I say is wrong, or you disagree - let me know about it!

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