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Bolton's the Right Choice to Shake Up the U.N.

ED GORDON, host:

In his first days as US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton has displayed none of his trademark combativeness. Envoys are calling his visit with other UN ambassadors `warm and friendly.' Commentator Michael Meyers hopes Bolton will resist the temptation to play nice guy.


President George Bush has installed a US ambassador to the United Nations without congressional consent. It was a bold move by a lame-duck president who has already lost patience with the insufferable blowhards in the Senate. Their efforts to delay Bolton's confirmation included windy speeches and demands for more documents from Democrats, like Joe Biden, who never gets enough face time on C-SPAN to go on and on about how the Senate functioned so well when `their' party was in charge. Yeah. Right.

If Biden and the other 99 senators were so concerned about exercising their all-important advise and consent function, why did not they arrange for an up-or-down vote on John Bolton's nomination before they went home for the summer? They'd already avoided the so-called nuclear option by agreeing not to filibuster except in extraordinary circumstances. Just about everybody, except those stubborn Democrats, agreed that John Bolton's nomination was not one of those extraordinary circumstances. So President Bush decided to break the stalemate. It's a big deal because, as he says, the country's at war, and we need the United Nations purring for peace. The UN cannot reform itself and UN reform cannot wait. We simply need a strong and clear voice there to tell Kofi Annan and the world community that the UN has urgent and important business to conduct.

The global suffering connected with famines, tribal wars, AIDS, slavery and despotism in the name of revolutionary change requires steadfast and coordinated leadership at the UN. Frank talk and bold actions must be the new world order. That's the message are wartime president sent to the US Senate with John Bolton's recess appointment. As Condoleezza Rice's mouthpiece, Bolton will bluntly relay that same message to a seemingly clueless and glueless assemblage of leaders. They've fallen out of harmony with the UN's founding principles of human rights protections, the pursuit of freedom and world peace.

John Bolton has at least 16 months to whip the UN into shape. If he can't do it, then maybe we ought to send Joe Biden. After all, he fancies himself a great orator.

GORDON: Michael Meyers is executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition.

This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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