“Bolton Already Obstructing Reform”
From The Progress Report American Progress Action Fund
It hasn’t taken John Bolton long to undermine U.N. reform efforts. Weeks before world leaders from 170 countries are to gather in New York to discuss “the most sweeping changes at the United Nations in its 60-year history,” the U.S. delegation led by Bolton has “thrown the proceedings in turmoil” with demands for a “drastic renegotiation” of the draft reform plan. Never mind that the current document is the result of “nearly a year of intensive negotiations” in which the United States “has been a regular participant” and so “has had a major impact on the document to date.” Bolton has decided to introduce at the last minute more than 750 amendments that would “eliminate new pledges of foreign aid to impoverished nations [and] scrap provisions that call for action to halt climate change and urge nuclear powers to make greater progress in dismantling their nuclear arms.” Bolton was sent to the UN not to reform it, but to weaken it, and he’s already hard at work.
SENDING REFORM BACK TO STEP ONE: Bolton has also suggested that one option “would be to return to square one and launch line-by-line negotiations on the document.” With diplomats warning that the “most determining factor is shortage of time” between now and September’s summit, this strategy is a clear effort to throw a wrench in the gears of U.N. reform. A top U.N. General Assembly today warns of just that: “[T]he big risk now is that [other countries] will see this big shopping list as an opportunity to return with their own shopping lists and then the whole thing may unravel.” It seems that Bolton’s real motive is to turn the September world summit into a fiasco, either by making sure that nothing is agreed to, or that the consensus document is devoid of any significant reform.
THE WAR ON THE WAR ON POVERTY: As President Bush has pointed out, “Persistent poverty and oppression can lead to hopelessness and despair. And when governments fail to meet the most basic needs of their people, these failed states can become havens for terror.” Yet John Bolton wants to eliminate most of the portions of the draft document that address alleviating global poverty. His amendments “call for striking any mention of the Millennium Development Goals, and the administration has publicly complained that the document’s section on poverty is too long.” Moreover, Bolton has told foreign delegates that he is concerned “about a provision of the agreement that urges wealthy countries, including the United States, to contribute 0.7 percent of their gross national product in assistance to poor countries.”
FOR BOLTON, SIZE MATTERS: The Bush administration’s true commitment to U.N. reform can also be judged by the importance it has placed on the draft document’s length. The administration’s official response to the draft, released earlier this month, includes sentences such as “the document is too long and not worded in a manner that heads of state normally agree to or endorse,” “The development section is over 15 pages long,” and “the section on security…focuses far too much on disarmament rather than nonproliferation; it is also too long.” In recent days, John Bolton has suggested “that the entire document could be scrapped and replaced with a brief statement,” or at most “a punchier three-page version.” How in the world do you construct a more dynamic and effective U.N. with a three page document? The fact is you don’t.
BOLTON OPPOSES TOUGH POSITION AGAINST GENOCIDE: Apparently the Bush administration hasn’t learned the lessons taught by the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and the ongoing genocide in Darfur, during which the international community failed to intervene effectively in cases of mass human rights violations. The Washington Post reports that the Bush administration “opposes language that urges the five permanent members of the Security Council not to cast vetoes to halt genocide, war crimes or ethnic cleansing.” (American Progress feels differently, and has launched the Responsibility to Protect program to present our case.)