Opposition to John Bolton's appointment to the UN grows

Friday, November 10, 2006 File:John Bolton State Dept.jpg

Ambassador John Bolton
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

The confirmation of John Bolton as the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations is in doubt as Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee joins Democrats in opposing his nomination.

John Bolton was first nominated to the position by President Bush in March 2005, but his appointment was opposed at that time when the Democrats on the Senate appointments committee, along with Republican Senator George Voinovich. He was then appointed by the President during congressional recess in August. This recess appointment must now be confirmed by the Senate.

Bolton's previous confirmation stalled after the Senate committee's demands for information about Bolton's activities while he was in the State Department were rejected by the administration. In addition, there were concerns about whether or not he had exaggerated reports about Syria's weaponry and doubts about the suitability of his temperament as an Ambassador for the United States.

While the Senate is in recess, the President can make appointments which have to be ratified subsequently. President Bush appointed John Bolton as Permanent Representative to the UN on August 1, the first day of the recess, asserting that the post was too important to be left vacant at a time when the country was at war and there was a vital debate about the reform of the UN.

Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy called the appointment "an abuse of power". The appointment is due to be confirmed before January 2007 after which it lapses.

Dr. John Bolton, a prominent neoconservative and sometime aide to James Baker, has been highly critical of the UN and its role in international affairs. His opinions were shared by other Republicans including Sen. Norm Coleman who is reported as saying that the UN was "mismanaged and possibly corrupt". He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in February this year by Per Ahjmark, former deputy prime minister of Sweden.

President Bush is reported as saying that he wants Bolton's appointment confirmed before January when the Democrats take power. The present constitution of the Senate Committee is 10 Republicans and 8 Democrats and Republican Sen. George Voinovich had come to support Bolton's appointment. However, the move by Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, on the grounds that, at the recent elections, the people had spoken out against US foreign policy, could result in a hung vote. That would result in John Bolton being removed from his position as US Ambassador to the UN.