Cold comfort indeed, but the upside of John Bolton resigning as ambassador to the UN is that the UN does not deserve to be dignified by ambassadors of the stature of John Bolton. His presence there endowed the place with a seriousness it has not earned. Bolton has been valiant in his efforts to clean up UN corruption and malfeasance, and follow UN procedure in dealing with such threats as a nuclear North Korea, a Hezbollah bid to take over Lebanon, and the nuclearization of Hezbollah’s terror-masters in Iran. But it has been like watching one man trying to move a tsunami of mud.
I’m reminded here of an episode from the historical novels of Robert Graves about the life of the Roman Emperor, Claudius, who tried to reform the empire. Toward the end, as Graves interprets it, Claudius concludes that despite his best efforts, Rome cannot be redeemed. Is too far gone in autocratic decay. Claudius figures that before things have any chance of getting better, they must get even worse. So, he lets the throne pass to Nero. Rome burns.
The immediate obstacle to Bolton’s confirmation was the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But the larger problem is that the UN is a place where straight-shooters, especially anyone who unabashedly stands up for the interests of the Free World — especially the interests of America — will be undermined and pilloried.
The big question now is whether President Bush will understand the lesson of sending Bolton to Turtle Bay, and recognize the folly of trying to work in good faith through the UN. Founded with the aim of promoting peace, the UN is a collective, which predictably enough has morphed into a machine for promoting and expanding itself — captive of special interests ranging from the left-wing of American politics, to the corrupt bureaucrats within its own ranks, to the dictators of places such as China and the Middle East. Something to consider: The U.S. pays some $420 million per year in dues to the UN, but then lavishes close to another $5 billion in “voluntary” contributions on UN operations — some of them profoundly anti-American in leadership and intent. If Bush can’t have his chosen ambassador on hand to keep an eye on such stuff, why keep the optional billions flowing?