If you're going to play the oldest established permanent floating transnational crap game for laughs, you might as well pick an act with plenty of material. What I love about John Bolton, America's new ambassador to the UN, is the sheer volume of 'damaging' material. Usually, the Democrats and media have to riffle through decades of dreary platitudes to come up with one potentially exploitable infelicitous soundbite. But with Bolton the damaging quotes are hanging off the trees and dropping straight into your bucket. Five minutes' casual mooching through the back catalogue and your cup runneth over:Steyn also makes short work of the 'stunned' reaction to the appointment:
'There is no such thing as the United Nations.'
The UN building?
'If you lost ten storeys, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.'
Reform of the Security Council?
'If I were redoing the Security Council, I'd have one permanent member ...the United States.'
The International Criminal Court?
'Fuzzy-minded romanticism ...not just naive but dangerous.'
International law in general?
'It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law.'
Offering incentives to rogue states?
'I don't do carrots.'
I can see why the international community might be minded to throw its hands up and shriek, 'Quelle horreur!' It's not just the rest of the world. Most of the American media are equally stunned. The New York Times wondered what Mr Bush's next appointment would be:And later:
'Donald Rumsfeld to negotiate a new set of Geneva conventions? Martha Stewart to run the Securities and Exchange Commission?'
Okay, I get the hang of this game. Sending John Bolton to be UN ambassador is like ...putting Sudan and Zimbabwe on the Human Rights Commission. Or letting Saddam's Iraq chair the UN conference on disarmament. Or sending a bunch of child-sex fiends to man UN operations in the Congo. And the Central African Republic. And Sierra Leone, and Burundi, Liberia, Haiti, Kosovo, and pretty much everywhere else. All of which happened without the UN fetishists running around shrieking hysterically. Why should America be the only country not to enjoy an uproarious joke at the UN's expense?
Yet the assumption behind much of the criticism of Bolton from the likes of John Kerry is that, regardless of his government's foreign policy, a UN ambassador has to be at some level a UN booster. Twenty years ago, the then Secretary of State George Schultz used to welcome the Reagan administration's ambassadorial appointments to his office and invite each chap to identify his country on the map. The guy who'd just landed the embassy in Chad would invariably point to Chad. 'No,' Schultz would say, 'this is your country' - and point to the United States. Nobody would expect a US ambassador to the Soviet Union to be a big booster for the Soviets. And, given that in a unipolar world the most plausible challenger to the US is transnationalism, these days the Schultz test is even more pertinent for the UN ambassador: his country is the United States, not the ersatz jurisdiction of Kofi Annan's embryo world government.Quite.