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Ed Driscoll

Bolton Passes The Schultz Test With Flying Colors

August 1st, 2005 - 11:09 am

John Bolton was recess-appointed America’s ambassador to the UN by President Bush earlier today. Ed Morrissey catches Senator Kerry whining, “John Bolton has been rejected twice by the Senate”, but as Ed notes:

Kerry gets it wrong yet again. A filibuster does not equate to a rejection; it means that the minority refused to let the Senate vote to accept or reject the nomination. Bolton did not get rejected by the Senate at all, and had the Democrats not filibustered the vote, he would have won confirmation, albeit on a narrow margin. That foregone conclusion led the Democrats to stage the filibuster in the first place.

Meanwhile, Mark Steyn reprints his essayon Bolton, which originally ran in March, during that endless–at least until today–filibuster:

That’s what John Bolton had in mind with his observations about international law: ‘It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so — because, over the long term, the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States.’ Just so. When George Bush Sr went through the UN to assemble his Stanley Gibbons coalition for the first Gulf war, it may have been a ‘diplomatic triumph’ but it was also the biggest single contributing factor to the received wisdom in the decade and a half since that only the UN has the international legitimacy to sanction war — to the point where, on the eve of Iraq’s liberation, the Church of England decided that a ‘just war’ could only be one approved by the Security Council. That in turn amplifies the UN’s claim to sole global legitimacy in a thousand other areas, big and small — the environment, guns, smoking, taxation.Yet the assumption behind much of the criticism of Bolton from the likes of John Kerry is that, regardless of his government’s foreign policy, a UN ambassador has to be at some level a UN booster. Twenty years ago, the then Secretary of State George Schultz used to welcome the Reagan administration’s ambassadorial appointments to his office and invite each chap to identify his country on the map. The guy who’d just landed the embassy in Chad would invariably point to Chad. ‘No,’ Schultz would say, ‘this is your country’ — and point to the United States. Nobody would expect a US ambassador to the Soviet Union to be a big booster for the Soviets. And, given that in a unipolar world the most plausible challenger to the US is transnationalism, these days the Schultz test is even more pertinent for the UN ambassador: his country is the United States, not the ersatz jurisdiction of Kofi Annan’s embryo world government.

So why have so many diplomats and other Foggy Bottom figures flunked it? Earlier in his essay, Steyn explains why it’s so easy for Americans to get caught-up in the transnational trap:

In recent years, I’ve had the pleasure of watching John Bolton in action on a couple of occasions at semi-private gatherings comprised mainly of — what’s the word? — foreigners. They were remarkable performances. Most of the Americans who hit the international cocktail circuit are eager to please. In Davos the other week, for example, CNN honcho Eason Jordan declared that US troops in Iraq were deliberately targeting journalists. Thanks to an enterprising blogger in attendance, this got him into hot water back home, and he wound up having to resign, mainly because it’s completely untrue. Also in Davos, Bill Clinton endorsed the mullahs: ‘Iran today is, in a sense, the only country where progressive ideas enjoy a vast constituency. It is there that the ideas that I subscribe to are defended by a majority.’ That’s true in the very narrow sense that in both Mr Clinton’s sex life and the ayatollahs’ repressive theocracy it’s the gals who wind up as the fall guys. But surely that can’t account entirely for Slick Willie’s effusions on Iran: ‘In every single election, the guys I identify with got two thirds to 70 per cent of the vote. There is no other country in the world I can say that about, certainly not my own.’I’ve never been to Davos, but I’ve sat next to the hot-looking Eurototty in the Alpine bar and tried to wangle me a little après-ski action and there comes a point in the evening when she says, ‘Zat George Boosh. What an idiot, hein!’ And you start to bristle, but then you realise that America and Old Europe are riven by as deep a divide as the magnificent plunging cleavage beckoning from her low-cut Fahrenheit 9/11 T-shirt and maybe now would be a good time for some transatlantic outreach in a very real sense, so you say, ‘Yeah, Bush. What a chump. Not like that Ruud Lubbers, eh?’ And you stare down her cleavage and catch your creepy sweaty face reflected in her shoes and feel momentarily ashamed, but not for long. My guess is that that’s what Bill Clinton and Eason Jordan were up to when they respectively hailed the progressivism of Iranian politics and defamed the entire US military. You’re with a bunch of foreigners and you want them to like you and it’s easy to get carried away.

That’s what was so stunning about Bolton. In a roomful of Euro-grandees, he was perfectly relaxed, a genial fellow with a rather Mitteleuropean moustache, but he thwacked every ball they served back down their gullets with amazing precision. He was the absolute antithesis of Schmoozer Bill and Pandering Eason: he seemed to relish their hostility. At one event, a startled British cabinet minister said to me afterwards, ‘He doesn’t mean all that, does he?’

But he does. And that’s why the Bolton flap is very revealing about conventional wisdom on transnationalism. Diplomats are supposed to be ‘diplomatic’. Why is that? Well, as the late Canadian prime minister Lester B. Pearson used to say, diplomacy is the art of letting the other fellow have your way. In other words, you were polite, discreet, circumspect, etc., as a means to an end. Not any more. None of John Bolton’s detractors is worried that his bluntness will jeopardise the administration’s policy goals. Quite the contrary. They’re concerned that the administration has policy goals — that it isn’t yet willing to subordinate its national interest to the polite transnational pieties. In that sense, our understanding of ‘diplomacy’ has become corrupted: it’s no longer the language through which nation states treat with one another so much as the code-speak consensus of a global elite.

Needless to say, Bolton passes the Schultz test with flying colors. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have been filibustered by Senator Kerry (chief proponent of “the global test“), and other representatives of the transnational left who serve in the Senate.