John Bolton: The Battle Begins

Looks like Bolton’s in for a bumpy ride during his confirmation hearings:

Senate Reactions

CORZINE: In a possible preview of Senate debate, Democratic Senator John Corzine of New Jersey said he was deeply disappointed over the nomination of Mr. Bolton. Mr. Corzine described Mr. Bolton as a leading foreign policy hardliner, and said he was responsible as much as any member of the Bush administration for needless confrontations with other countries and the international isolation he said had plagued the president’s first term. (VOA)

DODD: Sen. Chris Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, said Bolton was the wrong choice when the United States was seeking to mend fences after the Iraq invasion. “I have every reason to believe that John Bolton’s antipathy to the U.N. will prevent him from effectively discharging his duties as our ambassador,” he said. (Reuters)

BIDEN: Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said he was “surprised” by Bolton’s nomination and said his “stated attitude toward the United Nations gives me great pause.” (Reuters)

LUGAR: Sen. Richard Lugar, the Indiana Republican who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, said he would probably vote to approve Bolton but did not offer a clear endorsement. “I’m going to reserve any comments about the appropriateness or not of the president’s choice,” he told reporters. (Reuters)

KERRY: “This is just about the most inexplicable appointment the president could make to represent the United States to the world community,” said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. … Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts said the nomination carries with it “baggage we cannot afford.” (Baltimore Sun)

SARBANES: Maryland Democratic Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, a member of the Foreign Relations panel, expressed “serious reservations,” saying Bolton had displayed skepticism about “this nation’s long-standing tradition of seeking to carry out the vision and responsibilities of world leadership through the United Nations and other major multilateral institutions.” (Baltimore Sun)

REID: Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada called Bolton “a disappointing choice” and said he “will have much to answer for” during the hearings. “At a time when President Bush has recognized we need to begin repairing our damaged relations with the rest of the world, he nominates someone with a long history of being opposed to working cooperatively with other nations,” Reid said. (Baltimore Sun)

CHAFEE: Bolton “has been an outspoken critic of the United Nations. However I have been assured that he will bring a more balanced approach to his new role,” said Chafee. (Reuters)

HAGEL: “I want to see whoever we send up there committed to making the United Nations better, more responsive, more responsible, and who believes that he can work with Kofi Annan to do that,” Hagel said. “To go up there and kick the UN around doesn’t get the job done.” (Boston Globe)


Jeanne Kirkpatrick, the conservative who held the U.S. ambassadorship to the UN under President Ronald Reagan, said in 2003 that Bolton “may do diplomatic jobs for the U.S. government, but John is not a diplomat.” (International Herald Tribune)

“John Bolton has been totally unapologetic about his radical prescription for dealing with the proliferation threat,” Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has said. “The main problem is that it hasn’t worked anywhere.” (LA Times)

“This could be . . . the most needlessly provocative thing they have done in international affairs,” said Robert O. Boorstin, a former National Security Council official in the Clinton administration. “Some people believe that the Bush administration in an unsubtle fashion is trying to kill the United Nations. I don’t believe that . . . but they are doing everything in their power to remake it to reflect our power and our views, and no one else’s.” (Boston Globe)

Edward Luck, a U.N. expert at Columbia University, said that Bolton has been his favorite debating partner on U.N. matters. “He is very bright, capable and articulate,” Luck said. “It just seems that this is an odd place for him to be deployed. He has little patience for the give-and-take of diplomacy.” (Washington Post)

Chas Freeman, a retired U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said naming Bolton to the U.N. job was “the equivalent of dropping a neutron bomb on the organization.” (USA Today)

“To appoint as chief spokesman to the U.N. someone who has a reputation for being inclined toward unilateral approaches to world problems is extraordinary,” said Greg Thielmann, a former senior official at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the State Department, where he often worked with Bolton on arms control policy. “It’s exactly the wrong message to send.” (CQ)