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Bolton Confirmation Hearings Start Today


The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be holding hearing(s) beginning today on the formal confirmation process for John Bolton to be the US Ambassador to the UN. 

The hearings will be broadcast on C-Span3 beginning at 9:30 am ET, and I’m going to try to watch — although I can’t promise anything, since the peanut is home with me today and the last time I tried to watch Bolton on TV she took one look at him, screamed and ran out of the room crying…so it’s anyone’s guess how long he’ll be on at our house because, frankly, her happiness and lack of abject terror is more important to me.  (True story, she saw him and screamed.  I kid you not.) 

What, you say?  Isn’t he already our UN Ambassador?  Well yes, at the moment, via a recess appointment by George Bush when the Foreign Relations Committee pretty much threw up their hands in disgust at Bolton and Bush the last time around. 

But this time, the Bush Administration is counting on the mess they have made of foreign policy, the nasty conflagration between Israel and Lebanon, the Kim Jong Il North Korea get a UN Post for Free card, and a whole host of other "look over there, something shiny" issues to slip Bolton in under the radar.  Mainly, I think they are just hoping that no one is watching and that they’ve worn Congress down.

Well, they would be wrong.  A LOT of bloggers have been working their butts off on this issue, and I wanted to bring a round-up of some of the latest information from people who are much more experts on this subject than I am, so we can all be more informed this morning before Bolton’s testimony begins. is a good place to start on why the Bolton nomination should be…erm..stopped.

— Steve Clemons has a great round-up post on HuffPo with lots and lots of useful links.  Steve also has a piece on how the Bush Administration is pushing Jewish groups to support Bolton "with the arm-twisting innuendo that in this time of crisis in the Middle East, American Jews need to line up behind the guy Jesse Helms said ‘is the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon, if it should be my lot to be on hand for what is forecast to be the final battle between good and evil in this world.’"  (Am I the only one that finds it creepy to phrase things in this over-the-top-evangelical-revival-tent style to American Jewish groups?)

Sen. Chris Dodd is promising a "bruising battle" over the Bolton nomination.  (And the Bolton photo on the MSNBC website is particularly amusing as well.)  Sen. Russ Feingold is also not happy with Bolton, and has raised the word filibuster, or so I hear.

— Speaking of filibuster, RawStory is quoting a Roll Call article that says Frist may not have the votes to overcome a filibuster on Bolton, should he get out of the Foreign Relations Committee.  (Note to Bush:  There is loyalty to your friends, and then there is asinine stubborness and political idiocy….I’m just saying.)

ThinkProgress details the "do as I command, not as I actually do" stylings of John Bolton when it comes to official travel with the Security Council.

The LATimes calls Bolton’s brand of Ambassadorship "Sledgehammer Diplomacy."  (Hint:  They aren’t keen on him.) 

It’s true that Bolton has not been a total disaster. Under his tenure, the U.S. signed on to an important agreement asserting the principle that states have the responsibility to protect their citizens from mass slaughter and could face U.N. action if they don’t. His stands on human rights and organizational reform have for the most part been highly principled. The problem is that he doesn’t know when to compromise, without which progress in an international body is impossible.

Bolton’s sledgehammer diplomacy has poisoned an already tense relationship between the U.S. and other countries, including our most important allies. U.N. members see American reform proposals not as ways to improve the organization but as hidden attempts to enhance U.S. power. This helps explain why Bolton has largely failed to achieve his stated goals — or much of anything else.

They go on to say that Bolton should be voted down straight out because he is a poor choice, but they also aren’t too keen on the filibuster, either. Funny, newspapers seem to want the members of Congress to actually DO their jobs and vote on principle instead of political expediency grounds.  The WaPo isn’t exactly a fan either.  The AP (via the NYTimes) has some additional details.

When I was in college, I worked for an NGO at the UN.  I’ve been in the General Assembly Hall, the Security Council Chambers and all over the building, and I’ve met a number of the people who have dedicated their lives to striving toward peaceful solutions first, a commitment to human rights for all people around our globe, and a compassion for those who are caught in the crossfire on conflict and global disaster.  I have personally met two US Ambassadors to the UN, one in the George H.W. Bush years, and one in the Clinton years — and both were thoughtful, considerate, accomplished and diplomatic.  (I don’t say this is a boost to me, but by way of comparison to Bolton, whose demanding and gruff personality makes Jean Kirkpatrick look cuddly.)

It is not a plus to have a polarizing figure in the position of UN Ambassador.  Whatever you think of the institution (and yes, I am well aware that it also has its faults and that wingnuts detest it), the world in which we live today is spiraling out of kilter because President Bush cannot manage the simplest diplomatic mission (I give you Exhibit A and Exhibit B and Exhibit C, just for starters.).  That his chief foreign policy advisors are similarly skill impaired is dangerous for all of us.

For all our sakes, we need someone who can do the job — the whole job — and not just be a skunk at the party.  John Bolton?  Just plain wrong.

(The above drawing of John Bolton comes from the incredibly talented Cox and Forkum.  If you haven’t seen their editorial cartoons — or their fantastic website — get thee to this link.  Honestly, some of the best satire out there — with drawings that are gorgeously done, and always spot on.  No idea how anyone can be this consistently great.  Just look at the shading on Bolton’s droopy skin, his every wrinkle and furrow, and the petulant look that says "what the hell am I doing here with you?" — truly, a spot on drawing that captures the essence of Bolton.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com