Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The face of American diplomacy.

Wow. Spotty hadn't realized that John Bolton had such a highly-developed cranium. Maybe it's from high blood pressure due to Bolton's famous temper. Probably, it's just that he has a big head - metaphorically speaking.

President Bush's most famous recess appointee has been cheerfully shoveling sand into the gears over at the UN, in spite of his promise "to work with people." It is reported that Bolton is demanding 750 changes in an approximately 36 page (it depends on the language of the draft, apparently) draft blueprint for United Nations reform. You do you own math, but Spot figures that works out to over 20 changes per page. These are not helpful drafting tips, dear reader; this is an evisceration.

Here's a little of what Canada's Globe and Mail had to say:
Mr. Bolton, who was installed as ambassador by the Bush administration over the objections of Senate Democrats, circulated a letter this week demanding renegotiation of a draft text that would commit UN members to aggressive action on poverty reduction, climate change and nuclear disarmament.

At the same time, the United States wants to maintain those parts of the text that would strengthen the definition of terrorism, create a peace-building commission, fund pro-democracy initiatives and reform the administration of the world body.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged leaders to endorse the most sweeping changes to the world body since its founding 60 years ago. Mr. Annan said the changes are necessary to make the scandal-plagued organization more effective and transparent. But UN watchers and diplomats said yesterday the American insistence on sweeping changes to a document that has been hammered out through year-long negotiations could result in stalemate and no agreement in September.
In truth, Bolton's antics do not come as a giant surprise for observers of the UN:
Mr. Bolton's intervention was not surprising, given the long-time resistance by the United States to the economic, social and environmental priorities of other UN members.

"We should assume that he is only fulfilling what the administration is asking him to do," said Suzanne DiMaggio, executive director for global policy programs at the United Nations Association of the United States.

However, Ms. DiMaggio said it would be impossible to reach a UN reform package if Washington is not willing to compromise.

"If the goal is to bulldoze those priorities of greater economic and social development that most of the member states want to see in there, and in place just have U.S. priorities, then I think we are headed for a very rough ride," she said.
The Washington Post reports that the US is not alone in expressing reservations about the current draft. Apparently, "only" the 25 member EU, Austrailia, New Zealand, and those hopeless bleeding hearts, the Canadians, are on board. This would include, of course, the UK and the government of Tony "the Poodle" Blair.

The Guardian article, linked above, has the headline and subhead: Britain heads for clash with US: Disagreement over America's bid to derail UN reform.

It seems that people have figured out what this is really all about. Why worry about mere reform when you can make a stab at disabling the entire institution?

Whenever President Bush talks about cooperating with out allies, just remember John Bolton, who does not play well with others.


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