Monday, May 16, 2005


Why Bolton is the Right Person

As a Soldier, I am part of the U.S. response to U.N. neglect, corruption, and apathy, as I have discussed previously at Debate Space, my joint blog with The Liberal Avenger. This commentary on the latest Mark Steyn commentary on the issue struck home.

(Via Paul Mirengoff at Powerline)

Mark Steyn, writing in the Chicago Sun Times, reminds us of the recent terrible Tsunami that killed 300,000 people and generated a flood of international aid and goodwill, spearheaded overwhelmingly by the U.S., followed by Britain and Australia.

Steyn points out (astonishingly) that a vast amount of aid has been languishing for many months due to Indonesian bureaucratic logjams and incompetence (and no doubt corruption).

Steyn provides some tragic details:
Five hundred containers, representing one-quarter of all aid sent to Sri Lanka since the tsunami hit on Dec. 26, are still sitting on the dock in Colombo, unclaimed or unprocessed.

At the Indonesian port of Medan, 1,500 containers of aid are still sitting on the dock.

Four months ago, did you chip in to the tsunami relief effort? Did your company? A Scottish subsidiary of the Body Shop donated a 40-foot container of "Lemon Squidgit" and other premium soap, which arrived at Medan in January and has languished there ever since because of "incomplete paperwork,'' according to Indonesian customs officials.
Steyn uses this subject worthy of commentary in its own right, as an object lesson in the argument raging over the nomination of John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador of the U.N. (No, not Secretary General of the U.N. but you might think so for all the hand wringing and hysteria. Now wait, that's an idea...)

Steyn ties the two with humor:
Which brings me to the John Bolton nomination process, which is taking so long you'd think the U.S. Senate was run by Indonesian customs inspectors. Writing of near-Ambassador Bolton's difficulty getting his paperwork stamped by the Foreign Relations Committee, National Review's Cliff May observed that "the real debate is between those who think the U.N. needs reform -- and those who think the U.S. needs reform.''
Steyn deftly draws the parallel he's after to sink the hook:
On the face of it, this shouldn't be a difficult choice, even for as uncurious a squish as Voinovich. Whatever one feels about it, the United States manages to function. The U.N. apparatus doesn't. Indeed, the United States does the U.N.'s job better than the U.N. does. The part of the tsunami aid operation that worked was the first few days, when America, Australia and a handful of other nations improvised instant and effective emergency relief operations that did things like, you know, save lives, rescue people, restore water supply, etc. Then the poseurs of the transnational bureaucracy took over, held press conferences demanding that stingy Westerners needed to give more and more and more, and the usual incompetence and corruption followed.

But none of that matters. As the grotesque charade Voinovich and his Democrat chums have inflicted on us demonstrates, all that the so-called "multilateralists" require is that we be polite and deferential to the transnational establishment regardless of how useless it is. What matters in global diplomacy is that you pledge support rather than give any. Thus, Bolton would have no problem getting nominated as U.N. ambassador if he were more like Paul Martin.
Steyn explains for those who may not be readily able to identify the Canadian Prime Minister Martin, and highlights both Martin's high visibility in showing support after the Tsunami, and the fact that in contrast to the very public pledge of $425 Million, only $50,000 has actually been allocated. For Steyn, "Canada's contribution to tsunami relief is objectively useless and rhetorically fraudulent."

Ah, but Steyn's not done, not by a long shout. He concludes with what is Bolton's most strongly negative characteristic that infuriates his enemies.
John Bolton's sin is to have spoken the truth about the international system rather than the myths to which photo-oppers like the Canadian prime minister defer. As a consequence, he's being treated like a container of Western aid being processed by Indonesian customs. Customs Inspector Joe Biden and Junior Clerk Voinovich spent two months trying to come up with reasons why Bolton's paperwork is inadequate and demanding to know why he hasn't filled out his RU1-2. An RU1-2 is the official international bureaucrat's form reassuring the global community that he'll continue to peddle all the polite fictions, no matter how self-evidently risible they are. John Bolton isn't one, too. That's why we need him.
That is why we need him, and why Bill Kristol is right to urge a Senate vote on confirmation prior to the recess.

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