WASHINGTON (BP)–John Bolton, United States ambassador to the United Nations, has resigned in the face of a Democratic takeover of the Senate in January.
President Bush accepted the resignation “with regret” Dec. 4, 16 months after making the conservative and oft-criticized Bolton a recess appointment to the important diplomatic post. Bush made the appointment during a congressional recess after Senate Democrats blocked Bolton’s confirmation. The appointment was due to expire when the new congressional session begins in January.
“I am deeply disappointed that a handful of United States Senators prevented Ambassador Bolton from receiving the up-or-down vote he deserved in the Senate,” Bush said in a written statement upon receiving the resignation. “They chose to obstruct this confirmation, even though he enjoys majority support in the Senate and even though their tactics will disrupt our diplomatic work at a sensitive and important time. This stubborn obstructionism ill serves our country and discourages men and women of talent from serving their nation.”
In a May 2005 Senate roll call, 53 Republicans and three Democrats voted to invoke cloture but fell four votes short of the 60 needed to end the filibuster.
A liberal Republican senator, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, undermined an effort to confirm Bolton this fall. Chafee withdrew his support for Bolton, preventing a vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. All eight Democrats on the 18-member panel opposed Bolton’s confirmation, meaning Chafee’s “no” vote as a committee member would have resulted in a deadlock.
Bush and others credited Bolton with helping produce some important U.N. Security Council resolutions during his time at the international body, but the ambassador was not a favorite of the U.N. bureaucracy. The president said Bolton’s work brought about resolutions on nuclear developments by North Korea and Iran, as well as a U.N. commitment to peacekeeping in Darfur, the besieged western region of Sudan.
Conservatives strongly supported Bolton, agreeing with his advocacy for the spread of democracy and for U.N. reform. Bolton, who had served four years as under secretary of arms control and international security at the State Department, has openly criticized oppressive regimes.
In 1991, Bolton helped with the successful bid to rescind the U.N.’s resolution condemning Zionism as equivalent to racism, thereby aiding Israel. He has called North Korea’s Kim Jong Il a “tyrannical dictator” and criticized China publicly for permitting its firms to sell missile technology to Iran.
Senate Democrats charged Bolton with mistreating subordinates and misusing intelligence. They also said their opposition was an effort to gain information on Bolton that the White House refused to release.