Bolton doesn't change his U.N. tune

Bush picks John Bolton for U.N. ambassador. Isn't he the guy who said "The United Nations does not exist"?

Published March 8, 2005 12:12AM (EST)

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice announced Monday that Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton is President Bush's pick to be the U.S.'s next ambassador to the United Nations. Thats the same John Bolton who in 1994 claimed, "There's no such thing as the United Nations. There is only the international community, which can only be led by the only remaining superpower, which is the United States." The same John Bolton who said, "If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."

Based on such statements, you'd think the guy would have been a little red-faced during the announcement that he's the White House's pick for U.N. ambassador. But the notorious hardliner brazened it out, insisting that the U.N. needs to temper its multinational mission and follow the only remaining superpower: "As you know, I have, over the years, written critically about the U.N. ... American leadership is critical to the success of the U.N., an effective U.N., one that is true to the original intent of its charter's framers. This is a time of opportunity for the U.N., which likewise requires American leadership to achieve successful reform."

Since the announcement, Bolton's critics have theorized that his various gestures of disrespect may come back to haunt the White House. But so far the U.N. appears to be taking the appointment quite well. Secretary General Kofi Annan wasn't available to roll out the red carpet in person, but U.N. spokesperson Stefan Dujarric offered a compliant welcome: "The Secretary General warmly congratulates Mr. Bolton and looks forward to working with him on U.N. reform and many other issues We do want to be held accountable."

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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