WASHINGTON (BP)–President Bush responded Aug. 1 to delaying tactics in the U.S. Senate by appointing John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations.
Acting nearly five months after he nominated Bolton, Bush made the former under secretary at the State Department a recess appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation. The Senate is in recess until Sept. 6. Under a provision in the U.S. Constitution, Bolton will be able to serve as a recess appointment until January 2007, when the next session of Congress begins.
“This post is too important to leave vacant any longer, especially during a war and a vital debate about U.N. reform,” Bush said in announcing Bolton’s appointment.
He is sending Bolton to the U.N. “with my complete confidence,” the president said. “His mission now is to help the U.N. reform itself to renew its founding promises for the 21st century.”
Conservatives strongly supported Bolton, agreeing with his advocacy for the spread of democracy and for U.N. reform. Most Democrats in the Senate withheld support for Bolton. They charged him with mistreating subordinates and misusing intelligence. Democrats leading the opposition also said they blocked confirmation in order to gain information on Bolton the White House refused to release.
In a May 26 roll call, 53 Republicans and three Democrats voted to invoke cloture but fell four votes short of the 60 needed to end the filibuster.
Bolton supporters welcomed the president’s announcement.
“The president’s decision to appoint John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. makes good sense,” said Barrett Duke, vice president of public policy for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “Mr. Bolton is tough-minded and focused. He will insist on reform and accountability at the United Nations, both of which are desperately needed at the organization. I look forward to hearing of the significant contributions he makes at the U.N.”
Bolton critics attacked the appointment. Howard Dean, Democratic National Committee chairman, called Bush’s action a “truly arrogant move.”
“By moving unilaterally to overrule the Senate and appoint a nominee who is being dogged by significant questions about his integrity on intelligence matters, Bush has reduced our nation’s ability to cooperate with our allies on the war on terror,” Dean said in a written statement.
Bolton, who 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 recently criticized China publicly for permitting its firms to sell missile technology to the repressive Islamic state of Iran.
At least some critics of North Korea’s communist regime saw Bolton’s confirmation as critical to bringing change in that country. At an April news conference, Michael Horowitz, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said, “Whatever one’s views of John Bolton, the fact is he is the symbol of all American officials in resistance to this tyranny. His defeat will be the greatest single diplomatic triumph of Kim Jong Il of the past 25 years and, on those grounds alone, whatever else some people think, must not be permitted to happen.”
Bolton replaces John Danforth, who resigned as U.N. ambassador in January.