Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Bolton's Irrelevancy

I don't really understand why Bolton's nomination (and now recess appointment) has drawn so much criticism and, for that matter, why conservatives are so excited about his nomination. Bolton appears to be a smart, experienced, conservative guy. He isn't going to figuratively blow up the U.N., but he isn't going to go out of his way to be nice to the U.N. either.

But in the end of the day, what Bolton does as U.N. Ambassador pretty much won't matter, one way or the other, because (apologies to Peggy) ambassadors almost never matter, one way or the other. This is true even for U.N. Ambassadors (especially U.N. ambassadors). Quick: name the last 5 U.N. Ambassadors? The only ones we remember are the ones who were eventually promoted (e.g. Madeleine Albright or John Negroponte). Even U.N. reform, supposedly so important that we either can't allow/must support Bolton appears to be moving along smoothly, according to the NYT.

Finally, even if UN reform makes this nomination different, critics of Bolton keep forgetting that Bolton's main job will be to try to convince 2/3 of the Senate to approve a U.N. Reform Treaty and that the problem there will not be Sen. Ted Kennedy, but the conservatives who have been supporting Bolton. If I wanted to help the UN, I would want the most conservative UN Ambassador from the U.S. as possible, to give credibility to any reform package presented. After all, folks may think Bolton is conservative, but he is a real softy on the U.N. compared to some of the members of the U.S. Senate.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does the US Senate have to ratify any UN reform package? Is it that kind of treaty?

Can't the President just sign it given that it has no domestic legal effect?

8/02/2005 11:25 PM  
Blogger Julian Ku said...

that's a good question, although it conflates a number of issues. Even if the UN reform package has no domestic effect (which is debatable), the President needs Senate ratification under Article II for any amendment to any treaty. And because any serious UN Reform package thus far proposed, like changing the security council, will require amending the UN Charter, a treaty of the United States, the Senate will have to approve by 2/3.

This illustrates that the Senate has some ability to influence foreign policy through treaty approval, even if the treaty has domestic legal effect.

8/03/2005 7:05 PM  
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