John Bolton: The UN Cannot Be Reformed

We already knew that John Bolton doesn’t care much for the United Nations. But he is being sold to Congress by the Bush administration as a reformer.

Bolton, however, is on the record arguing that the United Nations is beyond reform for the foreseeable future. From an essay Bolton wrote in 1997:

This deep philosophical disjunction between the prevailing ethos of the United Nations and the fundamental American approach to governance is not something that will change in the foreseeable future.

What, then, does the foregoing analysis mean for the United Nations, and for America’s role within the organization? It means primarily that the rest of the world should have realistic expectations that the United Nations has a limited role to play in international affairs for the foreseeable future.


According to Bolton, the UN can’t become more relevant or effective through reform. And the “philosophical disjunction” is “not something that will change.”