I was on a conference call this morning with Senator Norm Coleman, who has been appointed a member of the U.S.’s United Nations delegation by President Bush. It’s a great appointment; Coleman has been a passionate critic of the U.N., but one who is willing to expend every possible effort to reform the organization before giving up on it.
Coleman said that at present, even the modest reform that was proposed some months ago by Kofi Annan is “dead in its tracks.” The developed countries that pay close to 90% of the U.N.’s bills voted for reform, but 108 countries, that together pay 13%, blocked it. So the U.N. remains a captive of the world’s least responsible regimes.
The leverage we have is mostly financial, and we used it to press for reform and obtain an interim six-month budget. But now the six months are up, there has been no reform, and the administration thinks there is no political will in Congress to do anything but go back to business as usual.
Coleman said that the most significant thing we can do to further the reform agenda is to secure the permanent appointment of John Bolton as Ambassador. The Washington Post reported a few days ago that the Bolton nomination is “dead,” but Coleman said the Post was “way off base.” He is optimistic that the Foreign Affairs Committee will pass Bolton’s nomination to the Senate floor, either with a favorable recommendation or, like last time, without a recommendation. The votes are there to confirm Bolton, but time is running out. So the issue is whether the Democrats pull a filibuster. In truth, Coleman said, the Democrats’ threats to filibuster Bolton have little to do with him, or even with the United Nations; he is mostly being used as a proxy for the Dems to express their opposition to the administration’s foreign policy generally.
All of which means that it is important for us to do what we can to put pressure on Democratic Senators not to pull a filibuster. Which brings us back to the Blogging for Bolton campaign that we wrote about here. Please follow the link below, where you will find the phone numbers of Democratic Senators. Please call as many as you have time for, and politely ask that they extend Ambassador Bolton the courtesy of a Senate vote. The Blogging for Bolton campaign has been underway for only a few days, but already close to 1,700 calls have been placed. Let’s show the Democrats that there is a strong constituency for reform of the United States, and for representation in that body by a strong advocate of America’s interests.