Should the United States Act with Humility in International Affairs?

John R. Bolton |  In Character

“A United States infused with humility works right up until Europeans–and we ourselves–need real protection.”

For individuals, humility is typically considered a desirable virtue, in contrast to its opposite number, pride, often deprecated and broadly perceived as a less-desirable personal characteristic. Both humility and pride are, of course, simply different aspects of situational self-awareness, divergent points along the continuum of behavior toward other people. Humility connotes modesty and respect for others, while pride is seen as masking arrogance, and is frequently accompanied by a swaggering cohort of other undesirable attributes.

It is therefore far from surprising that Dwight Eisenhower normally wins the contest for “most popular” over Lyndon Johnson. Alternatively, Winston Churchill once described his political opponent, Labour Party leader Clement Attlee, as “a modest man with much to be modest about.” Churchill’s humility was obviously not his strongest suit; he insisted even to his own family, “I am a great man.” Indeed he was. Humility in the face of Hitler and Nazi Germany, despite Gandhi’s advice not to resist a fascist invasion of Britain, would have rendered Churchill an abject failure in history.

Accordingly, the appropriate balance for individuals is unresolvable. And yet, notwithstanding the imponderables involved in appropriately sizing and judging humanity one by one, we have nonetheless long analogized large political entities–from empires to kingdoms to nation-states–to individuals. We do it in many ways, large and small, perhaps because it is easier to grasp international complexities in familiar terms, or perhaps for propaganda purposes to enhance or delegitimize the holders of various anthropomorphic attributes.

Assigning human characteristics to political organizations, however, is essentially false and misleading, and often dangerous. All nations have interests, and some have values, and their respective interests and values frequently conflict. Some, like Woodrow Wilson and his followers (Barack Obama comes to mind) see essentially all conflicts as resolvable through diplomatic means, essentially advocating humility as a way of international life, especially for the most powerful, like their own country. Others, notably Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, see conflict as a more inherent human quality, to be avoided when possible but accepted when the costs to core values and interests would be too high. The Wilsonians see this as the sin of pride replacing humility, with necessarily adverse consequences, although they cite no evidence that humility ever deterred belligerence. Indeed, in the international arena, humility can be fatal.

And this is the real question: both the Wilson-Obama and Roosevelt-Reagan schools want international peace and security, but they diverge significantly on methods. Thus for both analysts and policy makers, at least in American terms, what we should want is cold-blooded realism. Instead of constantly wondering whether we are highly enough regarded by friends and foes, whether in their universities or their salons, we should worry about whether we and our global friends and allies are adequately protected. International politics is not domestic campaign politics, and public opinion polls rarely determine outcomes. Our inquiry is far from simply a military calculation, but necessarily encompasses political and economic factors to ascertain whether our “big stick” is in fact big enough.

Realism is not some midpoint between humility and pride, but a professional attribute of statecraft, something necessary at the national government level in ways personal characteristics simply are not. Without realism, as in Wilson’s case, the consequences are rarely favorable and are often deeply wounding to our national interests. And even where it is present, it is only a necessary and rarely a sufficient condition for success, as the consummate realist Richard Nixon (rarely characterized as having deep humility) found in Vietnam. Nor would humility have fared better as national policy in Vietnam; it may simply have advanced the date of the Communist victory and ensuing subjugation of South Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge’s mass murder in Cambodia.

Of course, no one disputes that optics and political posturing can have their benefits, so that an ostensibly low-key approach may be desirable in appropriate circumstances. It was, after all, Theodore Roosevelt who advised that we should “speak softly,” and he actually won a Nobel Peace Prize for accomplishing something, brokering peace following the Russo-Japanese War. But beneath the optics must lie the hard reality, which almost inevitably involves assertive advocacy of American interests. This does not mean an overly prideful approach or insufficient humility; it simply has nothing to do with these individual human attributes.

Despite the Europe-centric notion that America was an isolationist country out of the global mainstream until World War I, we have faced threats and challenges throughout our history, generally with a deep understanding of the calculus of power, what the Marxists like to call the “correlation of forces.” Today, despite the current economic turmoil, we still find ourselves incredibly strong, in both comparative and absolute terms, and this strength helps define the choices we face. Those favoring the halo-surrounded path of humility argue that our strength is too prideful and is actually a source of many current challenges, and that less strength and more humility will reduce those challenges. This is certainly the predominant view in Europe, and seemingly also now prevails in Obama-era Washington.

The more realistic view is that American weakness, not our strength, is provocative, as the Europeans should better understand after almost sixty-five years of sheltering under the American umbrella. A United States infused with humility works right up until they–and we ourselves–need real protection. It is realism’s virtue never to forget that lesson.

Dick Cheney: Conservative of the Year

John R. Bolton |  Human Events

In Washingtonian “inside the Beltway” terms, the most amazing aspect of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s new clout is that he is achieving it the old-fashioned way: talking about public policy. He is not running for President or any other office. He has not formed a PAC or a D.C. lobbying firm. He is not dishing on former colleagues, not spreading gossip, not settling scores. He is, instead, writing a memoir about his extensive career in public service, and giving occasional speeches and interviews, mostly on national and homeland security policy, long his central focus.

How is it, therefore, that someone who has no political ambitions can cause so much angst at the White House and in the mainstream news media? The irrefutable answer is that what Cheney is saying, primarily on foreign policy, defense and anti-terrorism, makes sense to more and more American citizens growing increasingly worried by the Obama Administration’s insouciance when U.S. national interests are threatened, both at home and abroad. Since the only real, long-term way to deal with persuasive positions on substantive policy matters is to refute them with sounder policy arguments, it is not hard to understand why the Obama White House is near panic. Where are they going to go to find a better policy inside his administration?

The most visible evidence that White House handlers worry about Cheney’s scoring too many unanswered points came in May, in connection with a speech he was scheduled to give at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Cheney has had a long association with AEI, going back to the end of the Ford Administration. Later, after leaving the Defense Department in 1993 following Bush 41’s loss to Bill Clinton, Cheney sojourned briefly at AEI, as is customary in the Washington think-tank world where many federal officials decompress and reflect on their governmental experiences before returning to business or other pursuits. Cheney later joined AEI’s Board of Trustees, “stepping down” in 2001 as Vice Chairman, as AEI likes to put it, in order to become Vice President.

So, a major Cheney speech at AEI shortly after leaving the vice presidency was neither surprising nor aimed at the new Oval Office occupant. What was surprising, unprecedented and even unpresidential, however, was the Obama Administration’s reaction. Instead of leaving it to allies in Congress, Cabinet officers, or the media to debate the former Vice President, the White House scheduled a speech by the President himself on precisely the same topic. Even more amazingly, they scheduled it on exactly the same day as Cheney’s AEI speech, May 21, two hours before Cheney was scheduled to start his remarks. Political commentators searched their memories and clippings files, but no one could come up with another example of a President’s so directly taking on even a former President, let alone a former Vice President.

So nervous were Obama’s stage managers that they did not realize until too late that they had made a serious mistake by having Obama go first, thus allowing the amused Cheney and his waiting audience at AEI to watch Obama’s speech and then directly critique his arguments as soon as Obama had finished. Tellingly, Cheney didn’t have to alter the text he had already prepared, because he had already correctly anticipated and written out refutations of all of Obama’s central arguments. The White House politicos had tried to set a trap, but had succeeded only in trapping their own President.

Combined in this one historic speech are the key themes that Cheney has sounded since leaving the Vice Presidency: the critical need to understand that we are in a long, continuing war against international terrorism, the importance of sustaining and enhancing our defenses and capabilities against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the risks we face in letting our guard down.

In particular, Cheney gave a vigorous defense of “enhanced-interrogation techniques,” the detention facility for terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, and the national security benefits the United States obtained through its vigorous program of intelligence gathering. He criticized the Obama Administration’s decision to release previously classified memoranda and reports about our interrogation techniques, stressing the benefits thereby gained by al Qaeda and other terrorists, and then challenged the administration directly: Why not release the full texts of these records, including specifically the information that our interrogation techniques had elicited from the captured terrorists? Let the American people weigh the value of this evidence against the techniques themselves, and let history judge. Needless to say, the Obama White House has done nothing, thus underlining the fundamentally political nature of the original Obama decision to release only the parts of the documents they felt benefited his partisan view.

So befuddled were the administration and its media surrogates by Cheney’s AEI speech and his subsequent comments that they have insinuated darkly that Cheney actually does have a nefarious hidden motive. He is, they say, trying to defend his record and that of the Bush Administration, an obvious conflict of interest, they claim! Most people have scratched their heads at this criticism, which is what passes for devastating analysis by the media, because it is entirely natural for a senior public official to explain and defend his policies once he leaves office. In fact, it is critical that men and women who have served in high positions, as Cheney has, to do just that, to give our citizens a better understanding of what actually goes on in high-level decision making. With senior officials constrained by the limits of what they can say publicly while still serving in the government, the public often receives only a very limited understanding of what an administration’s actual thinking is on key policy decisions. To have a former Vice President willing to go on the record once he leaves office is a huge service to us and our nation, helping to illuminate and explain key factors affecting our national security.

Perhaps most galling to Democrats is how closely Joe Biden’s role as Vice President has tracked that of Cheney’s, which these same Democrats criticized so vociferously while Cheney was in office. The main difference, of course, is that Cheney is much quieter than Biden, which objective observers have to score as a plus for Cheney.

Desperate to distinguish themselves from Cheney, Biden’s media flacks say that he and his staff have worked well with Obama’s White House staff, in contrast to the rancor and in-fighting of the Bush-Cheney years. This effort to re-write history, however, simply will not fly. Especially on national-security policy, the Bush and Cheney staffs worked well and closely together. If, at the end of eight years, the staff relationships were not as close as at the beginning, that was hardly Cheney’s fault. Having worked as a White House summer intern for Vice President Spiro Agnew in 1972, I can recount from personal experience what it’s like when the President’s people are at knife’s-edge with the Veep’s. That’s not what it was like in the Bush years, certainly not in the first term. Bush’s second term was different for many reasons, marked notably in foreign affairs by the overwhelming predominance of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. But even then, Cheney’s relations with the NSC staff remained close, in large part because Rice’s successor as National Security Adviser, Steve Hadley, had worked for Cheney at the Pentagon during the Bush 41 Administration.

Perhaps most importantly of all, Cheney knows that the personal attacks on him, as offensive as they are, in reality constitute stark evidence that Obama and his supporters are simply unable to match him in the substantive policy debate. An old lawyers’ cliché says: “If the law is against you, pound on the facts; if the facts are against you, pound on the law; if the law and the facts are against you, pound on the table.” Obama and his supporters are doing the political equivalent of continuous table-pounding, because that’s basically all they have to offer. Cheney’s unwillingness to be deterred by the media assaults on his character, his judgment and his performance in office are therefore his most impressive force multiplier with the general public. Outside-the-Beltway Americans see him for exactly what he is: a very experienced, very dedicated patriot, giving his fellow citizens his best analysis on how to keep them and their country safe.

Cheney’s quiet, inner-directed motivation is simply impervious to the attacks orchestrated against him by the Chicago machine-style politicians at the White House, a fact also plainly visible to his fellow citizens. And it is yet another important reason to have confidence that Cheney’s solid policy analysis will yet prevail in the national political arena. Of course he is the conservative of the year!

Democracy Under Arrest

John R. Bolton |  Wall Street Journal

‘Universal jurisdiction” sounds like a term plucked from obscure international law journals, but it has pernicious and profoundly antidemocratic consequences in the real world. A British arrest warrant, issued over the weekend in London for former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, shows precisely why.

The warrant charged Ms. Livni—the current leader of the Knesset opposition—with war crimes allegedly committed by Israeli forces during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip last winter. Ms. Livni and other Israeli leaders have always staunchly defended their operation against Hamas, and the arrest warrant was withdrawn Monday when it became clear Ms. Livni would not be in Britain as previously scheduled. But the fallout from this misguided warrant will linger long after it fades from the headlines.

Universal jurisdiction originated centuries ago to deal with hostes humani generis (“the enemies of all mankind”) such as pirates or slavers, who were not under any state’s control but legitimately concerned them all. It has grown explosively in recent years, as self-styled human-rights advocates have pushed to criminalize national actions that they find offensive.

Today’s version of universal jurisdiction masquerades as a legal concept, but is in fact a form of political morality. It empowers prosecutions in states with little or even no connection to alleged offenses such as war crimes and gross abuses of human rights. And in many countries, as in Britain, the ability of private citizens to trigger the criminal process only adds to the danger of politicized prosecutions.

When leaders of constitutional, representative governments are targets, there is simply no argument for applying universal jurisdiction. Ms. Livni and her colleagues won free and fair Israeli elections, and were in fact defeated in subsequent free and fair elections. Israel’s laws have been adopted by democratically elected Knesset members and enforced by an independent judiciary. If crimes under Israeli law have been committed, they can be prosecuted by Israel’s courts. Same goes for the United States.

Augusto Pinochet’s 1999 arrest in Britain on a Spanish warrant for offenses committed while overthrowing Chile’s Salvadore Allende first brought universal jurisdiction global prominence. But Pinochet’s arrest was followed by Belgium’s toying with the idea of arresting Donald Rumsfeld for having the temerity to visit NATO headquarters in Brussels. Now Ms. Livni and other Israeli officials involved in recent regional conflicts are subject to potential arrest and trial if they travel beyond Israel’s borders.

It is no accident that arrest warrants never seem to be issued for the likes of Kim Jong Il or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, since the real targets of universal jurisdiction these days are Western nations. Ultimately, what it targets is the very ideas of sovereign accountability and political independence. These goals largely motivated the 1998 Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court, itself a step toward constraining states’ abilities to police their own affairs, and an institution that the Obama administration yearns to join.

Transferring accountability for decisions from democratic politics to the criminal justice system understandably intimidates policy makers from making perfectly justifiable choices, such as defending against terrorist threats. Moreover, “command responsibility” has been transmogrified from liability for failing to stop known criminal activity, to liability when officials “should have known” their subordinates were committing crimes. This further ups the ante and explains why former foreign ministers like Ms. Livni or Henry Kissinger are at risk.

This deterrent impact is exactly what universal jurisdiction advocates seek—both to affect decisions at the highest national levels, and to discourage mid- and low-level officials from implementing disfavored policies. Some foreign critics hope to prosecute former President George W. Bush for enhanced interrogation techniques and the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. While they likely won’t get to the former president, they’ll be at least somewhat content prosecuting the attorneys who wrote the underlying legal justifications. Incredibly, the Obama administration has yet to definitively reject the possibility of allowing such prosecutions overseas.

Universal jurisdiction against officials of authoritarian regimes sounds appealing. But in these cases, the real goal should be replacing such regimes with representative governments that undertake sovereign accountability for prior transgressions.

Nonetheless, human-rights activists who view their morality as higher than that of elected governments are satisfied by nothing less than prosecution. That is precisely why contemporary universal jurisdiction is so profoundly antidemocratic.

Undoubtedly, leaders of constitutional democracies make mistakes about whom they do and do not prosecute. But to substitute the judgments of self-designated international Platonic Guardians for representative governments and independent judiciaries is perilous at best, and authoritarian at worst. It’s the time to unambiguously reject universal jurisdiction before its infection spreads even further.

O’s Albatross: Misguided Nobel Will Weigh on the Rest of His Presidency

John R. Bolton |  New York Post

Americans were justifiably proud last week of their many Nobel Prize winners. Eight of the nine honorees in physics, chemistry and medicine were US citizens, some native-born, some naturalized, a near total American sweep. And their achievements were glorious: better understanding how DNA works, the basis for enormous medical progress; developing fiber-optic cable, revolutionizing global communications; and advances in cell biology, with enormous implications for treating cancer. In each case, these breakthroughs, some made as long as 20 years ago, have proven themselves beyond the laboratory, and already made enormous real-world differences.

Next to these marvels, how to explain the Nobel Peace Prize, the most prestigious of all, to President Barack Obama, in office less than nine months?

The Nobel Prize web site says the awards recognize “extraordinary achievements,” but the Obama citation refers only to his “extraordinary efforts,” a dramatic contrast. Accordingly, President Obama was gracious and humble in his remarks after the award, but he would have done better to decline the award entirely, and invite consideration only after he fashioned a real record of achievement.

Unfortunately, this year’s Peace Prize follows a decades-long series of politicized decisions by the Norwegian Nobel committee. The committee has repeatedly rewarded its ideological brethren, the common theme being a desire to produce a more modest role for the United States in world affairs, and a larger role for multilateral organizations, or, as some describe it, “global governance.”

By contrast, our first two sitting presidents to receive the Nobel Peace Prize had real accomplishments behind them. Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 won recognition for negotiating the Treaty of Portsmouth, which ended the Russo-Japanese War. Both the warring parties and contemporary analysts credited the former Rough Rider as the central player in resolving the conflict, bringing great credit to him and the rising global power of the United States.

Next was Woodrow Wilson for the year 1919 (not actually announced until 1920, along with that year’s prize). Recognizing Wilson’s Fourteen Points, his central role in the Treaty of Versailles and creation of the League of Nations, the Nobel Peace Prize honored the most important act of American diplomatic leadership in the world to that date. The Treaty of Versailles was defeated in the Senate, and America never joined the League, in large measure due to Wilson’s domestic political misjudgments and incompetence, but the importance of his work internationally cannot be disputed.

Next to these giants (Roosevelt being one of four presidents memorialized on Mount Rushmore), what has Obama done? Tellingly, no one actually argues that his international accomplishments justify the award. Instead, they contend that it is the prospect of accomplishments down the road that they are trying to encourage, and moral leadership. Some cite Mother Theresa’s 1973 Nobel Peace Prize as an example of such an award, itself a breathtaking comparison, given Mother Theresa’s life work was not simply a nine-month run in the Calcutta slums.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with encouraging hope and the possibility of future success. But it is otherworldly and in fact dangerous in national security matters to confuse emotions with reality. In fact, however, these vacuous aspirational justifications for giving the Nobel to Obama simply obscure the real ideological motivation behind the award: the Norwegian committee is promoting a cause, its cause. They seek to promote and encourage a particular kind of American, one who finds favor with European Leftists, who constantly ask, paraphrasing Rex Harrison’s musical query in “My Fair Lady”: “why can’t Americans . . . be more like us?”

In 2002, for example, in selecting Jimmy Carter, the then-chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee said the award was intended as “a kick in the leg” to President Bush, which should hardly be a qualification, let alone a public justification. Then, in 2007, former Vice President Al Gore’s selection for his global-warming work was widely seen as criticism of Bush administration environmental policy. Over the last several decades, moreover, the Nobel has repeatedly honored UN agencies or personnel, rewards increasing in inverse proportion to the organization’s effectiveness.

This year, one Nobel Committee member, Aagot Valle, of Norway’s Socialist Left party, said we should view the selection as “support and a commitment for Obama.” Indeed. Unable to vote in America’s 2008 presidential election, the Nobel Committee apparently decided to vote this year, making their ideological perspective unmistakable. Valle and the committee chairman, a failed former Norwegian prime minister, both referred to Obama’s hopes for nuclear disarmament. But they are just that: hopes. Ronald Reagan also aspired to a world without nuclear weapons. Where is his Nobel Peace Prize? Obviously, Reagan was not the right kind of American, not one appealing to the Norwegian and broader European Left.

Their message really is quite straightforward: “Jimmy Carter in 2002, Al Gore in 2007 and now Barack Obama. Do you Americans get the point yet?” It is precisely the preachiness and attitude of moral superiority inherent in these awards that many Americans find offensive, and which may, ironically, leave President Obama in a more difficult position here and abroad than before the award.

What, for example, what will be the world’s reaction if he agrees to his military commanders’ request to increase American forces in Afghanistan by 40,000 troops? What will be the reaction here if he does not? And this is far from the last hard choice the new Peace Prize winner will face during the remainder of his presidency, from Middle East conflicts, to Iranian and North Korean nuclear proliferation, to Hugo Chavez in this hemisphere. The president owes his best answers to his fellow Americans, not five miscellaneous Norwegian politicians.

The Nobel Committee, as its chairman proudly boasted, has engaged in “realpolitik,” directly intervening in American politics. It has thereby shown just how little it understands our country, it has gravely undermined its own credibility, and it has devalued the Peace Prize itself. Instead of preening itself on the wonderfulness of honoring Obama, the Nobel Committee should have worried more that it was actually hanging an albatross around his neck.

Mary Robinson’s Medal of Freedom

John R. Bolton | Wall Street Journal

Barack Obama’s decision to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson has generated unexpected but emotionally charged opposition. Appointed by then-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan as high commissioner for human rights in 1997-2002, Ms. Robinson had a controversial but ineffective tenure. (Previously, she was president of Ireland, a ceremonial position.)

Criticism of Mr. Obama’s award, to be officially bestowed tomorrow, has centered on Ms. Robinson’s central organizing role as secretary general of the 2001 “World Conference Against Racism” in Durban, South Africa. Instead of concentrating on its purported objectives, Durban was virulently anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and at least implicitly anti-American.

So vile was the conference’s draft declaration that Secretary of State Colin Powell correctly called it “a throwback to the days of ‘Zionism equals racism,'” referring to the infamous 1975 U.N. General Assembly resolution to that effect. President George W. Bush (whose father led the 1991 campaign that repealed the U.N.’s “Zionism is a form of racism” resolution) unhesitatingly agreed when Mr. Powell recommended the U.S. delegation leave the Durban conference rather than legitimize the outcome.

Ms. Robinson didn’t see it that way then, and she has shown no remorse since. In late 2002, she described Durban’s outcome as “remarkably good, including on the issues of the Middle East.”

Outrage over Durban reignited earlier this year when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did her best to get the United States to attend the successor conference (“Durban II”) to polish Mr. Obama’s “multilateralist” bona fides. Because the Durban II draft declaration reaffirmed Durban I’s hateful conclusions, even the Obama administration couldn’t swallow attending.

Durban is not the only reason Ms. Robinson should not receive the Medal of Freedom. Over the years she has actively opposed “the security or national interests of the United States,” one of the categories of eligibility for the Medal. Those in the administration who recommended her either ignored her anti-Israel history, or missed it entirely, as they either ignored or overlooked her hostility toward America’s role in promoting international peace and security. Or perhaps they share Ms. Robinson’s views.

One example, particularly significant today given the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, is Ms. Robinson’s strong opinions about the use of force. During the Clinton administration’s (and NATO’s) air campaign against Serbia because of its assault on Kosovo, for instance, she opined that “civilian casualties are human rights victims.” But her real objection was not to civilian casualties but to the bombing itself, saying “NATO remains the sole judge of what is or is not acceptable to bomb,” which she did not mean as a compliment.

In fact, Ms. Robinson wanted U.N. control over NATO’s actions: “It surely must be right for the Security Council . . . to have a say in whether a prolonged bombing campaign in which the bombers choose their target at will is consistent with the principle of legality under the Charter of the United Nations.” One wonders if this is also Mr. Obama’s view, given the enormous consequences for U.S. national security.

This February, asked whether former President George W. Bush should be prosecuted for war crimes, Ms. Robinson answered that it was “premature,” until a “process” such as an “independent inquiry” was established: “[T]hen the decision can be taken as to whether anybody will be held accountable.” In particular, she objected to the Bush administration’s “war paradigm” for dealing with terrorism, saying we actually “need to reinforce the criminal justice system.” Asked about Mr. Obama’s statements on “moving forward,” Ms. Robinson responded that “one of the ways of looking forward is to have the courage to say we must inquire.”

Ms. Robinson’s award shows Mr. Obama’s detachment from longstanding, mainstream, American public opinion on foreign policy. The administration’s tin ear to the furor over Ms. Robinson underlines how deep that detachment really is.

A Multilateral Mess

John R. Bolton |  New York Post

“Durban II” is an upcoming United Nations “anti-racism” conference intended to update a 2001 conference held in Durban, South Africa. Ostensibly designed to find common global ground against racism, Durban I instead focused on isolating and delegitimizing Israel as “racist.” By joining preparatory work for Durban II, the White House has proven not only naive, but destructive. The Obama administration has now effectively admitted its mistake by withdrawing from the Durban II preparations. But why did it get involved in the first place?

The Obama adminstration announced yesterday that it’s withdrawing from the UN group preparing for the “Durban II” conference. Multilateralism, the new team is fast discovering, isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.

The administration’s foreign-policy performance has been uneven so far–with this debacle merely the most obvious mess. Where some had believed President Obama would pursue a moderate, pragmatic course, his administration increasingly seems not only highly ideological, but naive and uninformed–exposing and endangering America and its allies.

One example of pure ideology was having the United States engage in preparations for “Durban II,” a UN “anti-racism” conference in April intended to update a 2001 conference (held in Durban, South Africa). Ostensibly designed to find common global ground against racism, Durban I instead focused on isolating and delegitimizing Israel as “racist.”

Durban I was also, just below the surface, profoundly anti-American. It was so offensive that the United States walked out rather than dignifying the final conference document, even by voting against it.

This courageous act, however, became a basis for complaints about President Bush’s “unilateralism” and “abandonment” of diplomacy. On the international left, these mantras became a theology that the new administration now seeks to advance in a variety of foreign-policy areas.

By joining preparatory work for Durban II, however, the White House has proven not only naive, but destructive. The move isolated our ally Israel, embarrassed our ally Canada (which had already announced its boycott of Durban II) and cut off at the knees several European allies who were on the verge of announcing their Durban II boycotts.

How’s that for “diplomacy”?

Of course, the State Department rarely encounters a conference it doesn’t want to attend. Left to themselves, State’s bureaucrats would never have walked out of Durban I–or withdrawn from the looming mess of Durban II.

The administration has now effectively admitted its mistake by withdrawing from the Durban II preparations. But why did it get involved in the first place?

Undoubtedly, a combination of several separate agendas converged. First was the president’s own desire to practice diplomacy without regard to strategic calculations. Second, several key advisers, including UN Ambassador Susan Rice, saw this as a chance to show their independence of Secretary of State Clinton–an early indication of a coming turf battle that could ultimately cause Obama’s foreign-policy machinery to seize up completely.

And finally, State’s bureaucracy provided essentially no options other than its own predilection to travel to the world’s great meeting centers, such as Geneva where Durban II preparations are under way.

The Obama team underestimated how bad the draft Durban II final declaration was, and how hard it would be to change it. Moreover, the vast mass of offensive language already in that document was not changed at all. Consistent with long UN practice, it was always inconceivable that Durban II would not endorse the hateful outcome of Durban I. If it was unacceptable to the US before, why should it not remain unacceptable now–thus precluding another administration reversal?

Ironically, there was no compelling need for President Obama to parachute into Durban II. As he has done in many other cases, he could’ve blamed everything on the Bush administration, saying that Durban II was so far along that there was no real chance for a fresh start. In this time of Obama-mania, no one would have demurred.

Instead, the new administration displayed its fundamentally ideological proclivity toward unfocused “engagement” by intervening in Durban II, a decision sadly lacking in moderation or pragmatism.

This miscalculation will undoubtedly damage President Obama, but even worse it will harm larger American interests by opening us to the kinds of challenges that our adversaries are only too willing to mount. Looking ahead, for example, life in the UN General Assembly will now become even more contentious and unproductive for the United States.

Will the administration learn its lesson, and now opt against climbing on board the discredited UN Human Rights Council (which is something of a full-time Durban)? I’m doubtful.

If this is the opposite of Bush administration “unilateralism,” and what we will suffer through for four more years, it is bad news indeed.

The Coming War on Sovereignty

John R. Bolton |  Commentary Magazine

Barack Obama’s nascent presidency has brought forth the customary flood of policy proposals from the great and good, all hoping to influence his administration. One noteworthy offering is a short report with a distinguished provenance entitled A Plan for Action, which features a revealingly immodest subtitle: A New Era of International Cooperation for a Changed World: 2009, 2010, and Beyond .

In presentation and tone, A Plan for Action is determinedly uncontroversial; indeed, it looks and reads more like a corporate brochure than a foreign-policy paper. The text is the work of three academics–Bruce Jones of NYU, Carlos Pascual of the Brookings Institution, and Stephen John Stedman of Stanford. Its findings and recommendations, they claim, rose from a series of meetings with foreign-policy eminences here and abroad, including former Secretaries of State of both parties as well as defense officials from the Clinton and first Bush administrations. The participation of these notables is what gives A Plan for Action its bona fides, though one should doubt how much the document actually reflects their ideas. There is no question, however, that the ideas advanced in A Plan for Action have become mainstays in the liberal vision of the future of American foreign policy.

That is what makes A Plan for Action especially interesting, and especially worrisome. If it is what it appears to be–a blueprint for the Obama administration’s effort to construct a foreign policy different from George W. Bush’s–then the nation’s governing elite is in the process of taking a sharp, indeed radical, turn away from the principles and practices of representative self-government that have been at the core of the American experiment since the nation’s founding. The pivot point is a shifting understanding of American sovereignty.


While the term “sovereignty” has acquired many, often inconsistent, definitions, Americans have historically understood it to mean our collective right to govern ourselves within our Constitutional framework. Today’s liberal elite, by contrast, sees sovereignty as something much more abstract and less tangible, and thus a prize of less value to individual citizens than it once might have been. They argue that the model accepted by European countries in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which assigned to individual nation-states the right and responsibility to manage their own affairs within their own borders, is in the process of being superseded by new structures more appropriate to the 21st century.

In this regard, they usually cite the European Union (EU) as the new model, with its 27 member nations falling under the aegis of a centralized financial system administered in Brussels. On issue after issue, from climate change to trade, American liberals increasingly look to Europe’s example of transnational consensus as the proper model for the United States. That is particularly true when it comes to national security, as John Kerry revealed when, during his presidential bid in 2004, he said that American policy had to pass a “global test” in order to secure its legitimacy.

This is not a view with which the broader American population has shown much comfort. Traditionally, Americans have resisted the notion that their government’s actions had to pass muster with other governments, often with widely differing values and interests. It is the foreign-policy establishment’s unease with this long-held American conviction that is the motivating factor behind A Plan for Action , which represents a bold attempt to argue that any such set of beliefs has simply been overtaken by events.

To this end, the authors provide a brief for what they call “responsible sovereignty.” They define it as “the notion that sovereignty entails obligations and duties toward other states as well as to one’s own citizens,” and they believe that its application can form the basis for a “cooperative international order.” At first glance, the phrase “responsible sovereignty” may seem unremarkable, given the paucity of advocates for “irresponsible sovereignty.” But despite the Plan ‘s mainstream provenance, the conception is a dramatic overhaul of sovereignty itself.

“Global leaders,” the Plan insists, “increasingly recognize that alone they are unable to protect their interests and their citizens–national security has become interdependent with global security.” The United States must therefore commit to “a rule-based international system that rejects unilateralism and looks beyond military might,” or else “resign [our]selves to an ad-hoc international system.” Mere “traditional sovereignty” is insufficient in the new era we have entered, an era in which we must contend with “the realities of a now transnational world.” This “rule-based international system” will create the conditions for “global governance.”

The Plan suggests that the transition to this new system must begin immediately because of the terrible damage done by the Bush administration. In the Plan ‘s narrative, Bush disdained diplomacy, uniformly preferring the use of force, regime change, preemptive attacks, and general swagger in its conduct of foreign affairs. The Plan , by contrast, “rejects unilateralism and looks beyond military might.” Its implementation will lead to the successful resolution of dispute after dispute and usher in a new and unprecedented period of worldwide comity.


As the Obama years begin, we certainly do need a lively debate on the utility of diplomacy, but it would be better if that debate were not conducted on the false premise offered by A Plan for Action . In reality, in the overwhelming majority of cases, foreign-policy thinkers on both sides of the ideological divide believe diplomacy is the solution to the difficulties that arise in the international system. That is how the Bush administration conducted itself as well.

The difference arises in the consideration of a tiny number of cases–cases that prove entirely resistant to diplomatic efforts, in which divergent national interests prove implacably resistant to reconciliation. If diplomacy does not and cannot work, the continued application of it to a problematic situation is akin to subjecting a cancer patient to a regimen of chemotherapy that shows no results whatever. The result may look like treatment, but it is, in fact, only making the patient sicker and offering no possibility of improvement.

Diplomacy is like all other human activity. It has costs and it has benefits. Whether to engage in diplomacy on a given matter requires a judicious assessment of both costs and benefits. This is an exercise about which reasonable people can disagree. If diplomacy is to work, it must be preceded by an effort to determine its parameters–when it might be best to begin, how to achieve one’s aims, and what the purpose of the process might be. At the cold war’s outset, for example, Harry Truman’s Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, frequently observed that he was prepared to negotiate with the Soviets only when America could do so from a position of strength.

Time is one of the most important variables in a diplomatic dance, because it often imposes a cost on one side and a benefit to its adversary. Nations can use the time granted by a diplomatic process to obscure their objectives, build alliances, prepare operationally for war, and, especially today, accelerate their efforts to build weapons of mass destruction and the ballistic missiles that might carry them. There are concrete economic factors that must be considered as well in the act of seeking to engage an adversary in the diplomatic realm–the act of providing humanitarian assistance as an act of good will, for example, the suspension of economic sanctions, or even resuming normal trade relations during negotiations.

Obviously, the United States and, indeed, all rational nations are entirely comfortable paying substantial costs when they appear to be wise investments that will lead to the achievement of a larger objective. Alas, such happy conclusions are far from inevitable, and failing to understand the truth of this uncomfortable and inarguable reality has led nations to prolong negotiations long after the last glimmer of progress has been snuffed out. For too many diplomats, there is no off switch for diplomacy, no moment at which the only sensible thing to do is rise from the table and go home.

Has one ever heard of a diplomat working to fashion an “exit strategy” from a failed negotiation? One hasn’t. One should.


Diplomacy is a tool, not a policy. It is a technique, not an end in itself. Urging, however earnestly, that we “engage” with our enemies tells us nothing about what happens after concluding the initial pleasantries at the negotiating table. Just opening the conversation is often significant, especially for those who are legitimized merely by being present. But without more, the meaning and potency of the photo op will quickly fade.

That is why effective diplomacy must be one aspect of a larger strategic spectrum that includes ugly and public confrontations. Without the threat of painful sanctions, harsh condemnations, and even the use of force, diplomacy risks becoming a sucker’s game, in which one side will sit forever in naïve hope of reaching a settlement while the other side acts at will.

Diplomacy is an end in itself in A Plan for Action . So, too, is multilateralism. The multilateralism the Plan celebrates and advocates is, of course, set in sharp contrast to the portrait it draws of a Bush administration flush with unilateralist cowboys intent on overturning existing international treaties and institutions just for the sport of it. Defining unilateralism is straightforward: the word refers to a state acting on its own in international affairs. It is a critical conceptual mistake, however, to pose “multilateralism” simply as its opposite.

Consider, for example, the various roles of the United Nations, the North American Treaty Organization, and the Proliferation Security Initiative. The UN, the Holy Grail of multilateralism, is an organization of 192 members with responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security lodged in its Security Council. NATO is a defense alliance of 26 states, all of which are Western democracies. The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), created in 2003 by the Bush administration, now includes 90-plus diverse countries dedicated to stopping international trafficking in weapons of mass destruction.

Each organization is clearly “multilateral,” but their roles are so wildly different that the word ceases to have any meaning. For example, if the United States confronted a serious threat, it would be acting multilaterally if it took the matter either to NATO or the UN. Both options would be “multilateral,” but widely divergent in diplomatic and political content, and quite likely in military significance as well. They would be comparable related in the same way a steak knife is comparable to a plastic butter knife.

The PSI offers an even starker contrast, for unlike either the UN or NATO, it has no secretary general, no Secretariat, no headquarters, and no regularly scheduled meetings. One British diplomat described the initiative as “an activity, not an organization.” In fact, the model of the Proliferation Security Initiative is the ideal one for multilateral activity in the future, precisely because it transcends the traditional structures of international organizations, which have, time and again, proved inefficient and ineffective.

“Multilateralism” is, in other words, merely a word that describes international action taken by a group of nations acting in concert. For the authors of A Plan for Action , however, multilateralism has an almost spiritual aspect, representing a harmony that transcends barriers and oceans.

Harmony is designed to stifle any discordant notes, and so is the multilateralism envisioned by an American foreign policy guided by “responsible sovereignty.” It is one in which the group of nations, of which the United States is but a single player among many, initiates policies and activities that would likely be designed to constrain the freedom of action of the United States in pursuit of that harmony–not only in its activities abroad, but also in its activities within the 50 states.

There is a precedent for this in the conduct of the European Union, whose 27 nations now possess a common currency in the form of the euro and an immensely complex series of trade and labor policies intended to cut across sovereign lines. The EU is the model A Plan for Action proffers for the “responsible sovereignty” regime its authors wish to import to the United States. EU bureaucrats based in Brussels have been reshaping the priorities and needs of EU member states for a decade now, and proposing a system based on the design of the EU suggests a desire to subject the United States to a kind of international oversight not only when it comes to foreign policy but also on matters properly understood as U.S. domestic policy.

That very approach has been on display at the United Nations for years in an effort to standardize international conduct that has come to be known as “norming.” In theory, there is good reason to create international standards–for measurement, for example, or for conduct on the high seas. But “norming” goes far beyond such prosaic concerns. The UN has, for example, repeatedly voted in different committees to condemn the death penalty, in a clear effort to put pressure on the United States to follow suit. Similar votes have been taken on abortion rights and restricting the private ownership of firearms.


Such issues have been, and likely will again be, the subjects of intense democratic debate within the United States, and properly so. There is no need to internationalize them to make the debate more fruitful. What is common to these and many other issues is that the losers in our domestic debate are often the proponents of internationalizing the controversies. They think that if they can change the political actors, they can change the political outcome. Unsuccessful in our domestic political arena, they seek to redefine the arena in which these matters will be adjudicated–moving, in effect, from unilateral, democratic U.S. decision-making to a multilateral, bureaucratic, and elitist environment. For almost any domestic issue one can imagine, there are likely to be nongovernmental organizations roaming the international arena desperately trying to turn their priorities into “norming” issues.

This is what “responsible sovereignty” would look like. For the authors and signatories of A Plan for Action, sovereignty is simply an abstraction, a historical concept about as important today as the “sovereigns” from whose absolute rights the term originally derived. That is not the understanding of the U.S. Constitution, which locates the basis of its legitimacy in “we the people,” who constitute the sovereign authority of the nation.

“Sharing” sovereignty with someone or something else is thus not abstract for Americans. Doing so by definition will diminish the sovereign power of the American people over their government and their own lives, the very purpose for which the Constitution was written. This is something Americans have been reluctant to do. Now their reluctance may have to take the form of more concerted action against “responsible sovereignty” if its onward march is to be halted or reversed. Our Founders would clearly understand the need.

The Decline That Never Happens

John R. Bolton |  Liberal

From the very moment of independence, there have been those predicting America’s demise, decline, or irrelevance. It still has not come.
“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” once wrote Mark Twain. “Greatly exaggerated” also described the repeated, periodic predictions of American decline. Indeed, from the very moment of Independence, there have been those predicting America’s demise, decline or irrelevance. The only variation is whether the eclipse of the United States will be produced by its own shortcomings or the unmatchable superiority of those doing the eclipsing.Betting against the United States–a sport even many Americans engage in–may be popular, but is has never proven profitable. Nor will it as long as the United States adheres to the fundamental and interrelated premises on which it is founded: the centrality of individual liberty, openness to new ideas and opportunities, and the optimism that brought so many of our ancestors to the New World in the first place. It is certainly true that some or all of these attributes are found in one or another quantity in almost all other nations around the globe, so they are certainly not America’s possession alone. Some nations may even be said to exhibit these characteristics more fully than the United States in one or another aspect of their economy, politics or culture. But only in America have they come together in the concentration we have seen throughout American history. This is the basis of American “exceptionalism,” the characteristic that drives the declinists to drink or distraction more than any other.

At America’s beginnings, many in Europe thought it unlikely that the new country could survive, let alone prosper. And, indeed, the outcome was not certain, which is why the War of 1812 with Great Britain is often called the Second War of Independence. Yet, while Europe was consuming itself with its own struggles, the United States grew from a ribbon of settlements along the Atlantic Coast to a continental giant. Unfortunately, that growth was infected by the existence of slavery, and the United States fought a wrenching Civil War, bloody even by the sanguinary standards of its time to eliminate slavery while preserving its hard-won Union. Many predicted that the human, political and financial costs of the war would have the same deadening effects as other massive civil wars, but precisely the opposite happened.

Rising from the Civil War’s deadly battlefields, the industrial revolution fully took hold, the West was integrated with both North and South, and by the end of the Nineteenth Century, only the willfully ignorant could miss America’s impending emergence on the world stage. In fact, America’s successful western expansion represented the only truly lasting “imperialism” of the Nineteenth Century, since all of the newly acquired western territories were successfully integrated as equal States with the existing Union. Although Europe may not have been paying attention, or fully understanding what was happening, America was entering the world stage while Europe was looking elsewhere. Europeans generally–and the declinists in particular–therefore still tend to ignore U.S. history before the Twentieth Century. They are arguing implicitly that what happened during America’s first century was irrelevant to what happened during its second century, and even more irrelevant to its third, what now lies before us in the Twenty-First Century.

It is not simply historical ignorance at work here, however, but ignorance of the common themes of liberty, imagination and optimism that drove America in the Nineteenth Century and that brought it to global dominance in the Twentieth. Of course, it helped America’s exceptionalism that much of the rest of the world insisted on continuing its fascination for totalitarian and authoritarian government, or drifted off into variants of fascism or communism. The three great wars of the Twentieth Century, two hot and one cold, each in their own ways, reflected the battle between the basic American foundations and alternatives worldwide. Europe repeatedly faults the United States for becoming “isolationist” after World War I, as if it were America’s fault for the rise of fascism and communism on the European continent in the aftermath of that war. In fact, although the United States rejected the treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations, the United States was active in financial and arms control diplomacy throughout the inter-war period. If Europe could not save itself from totalitarianism and the League’s total failure and collapse, it is entirely unclear what difference the United States could have made.

Many declinists begin to measure the start of America’s fall from eminence from 1945, when it is typically assumed that U.S. power was unequalled in the world and could only diminish. Of course, since most of Europe lay in rubble from its own self-inflicted wounds, the real issue was whether it would rise again, as it in fact did with Marshall Plan assistance. By definition, a rising Europe made America, relatively speaking, less the sole superpower, but does anyone argue that America should have behaved differently in the post-World War Two years? Obviously not, this being one of the few debates in recent history that seems conclusively resolved. Unfortunately, however, Soviet espionage brought it nuclear weapons capabilities and the appearance of economic strength, and its Communist ideology precipitated the Cold War.

During that War, numerous theories were advanced about why the United States could not win. One early scenario held that the fragile post-war European democracies in Western Europe would fall to Communism, as had those of Central and Eastern Europe. That didn’t happen. Then, there were predictions that the Soviet Union and the United States would battle to a standstill, and that there would be “convergence” between capitalism and communism, with both sides ending up looking much like the other. That didn’t happen either. The First World won and the Second World lost.

But the declinists are nothing but not persistent in their own peculiar way. They theorized that Japan would overtake the United States, a theory that had great favor right up until the bursting of the Japanese bubble in the 1990’s, from which Japan has not yet fully recovered. Then, we were told that the European Union would inevitably overtake the United States, a predicted that looks less and less likely as birth rates in most European Union countries continue to fall. Moreover, in places like Ireland, on the fringes of Europe, apparently no one got the word that the EU project was supposed to progress unimpeded. Democracy seems poised to pass out of fashion in Europe (and perhaps it already has after a brief appearance in Russia), while somehow American democracy continues at full strength.

Today’s predictions of American decline rest on the argument that countries of the former Third World–China, India, and Brazil are the usual nominees–will inevitably rise in importance, even if the United States does not actually decline. This is a somewhat more sophisticated view of decline, namely the relative eclipse of the United States rather than an actual worsening of economic conditions or reduction in political-military power. Predictions of when the tipping point will be reached vary, with authors competing to advance that happy day when the United States takes its proper place in the food chain of nations, instead of standing outside of it as it has for so long.

All I can say is: don’t hold your breath.

Adherents of the declinist view for America make several significant mistakes. First, they tend to “straight line” positive developments in some other countries indefinitely into the future, while doing the same to existing U.S. problems or difficulties. Second, they invariably ignore alternative scenarios that are inconsistent with their predetermined conclusion. Such alternatives may in fact be less likely than those preferred by the declinists, but it by no means makes them impossible. And third, where alternative futures are considered, America’s always turn out to be the worst possible, whereas “the rest” somehow always get lucky.

These analytical shortcoming underline the importance not simply for taking a longer-term historical perspective but for understanding what causes the perspective to be what it is in the first place, both in the United States and in its would be peer-competitors.

The biggest risk for America is that it becomes too much like “the rest.” In Europe, for example, the “precautionary principle” is now received wisdom. This principle holds, essentially, that any risk than can be avoided should–or even must–be avoided. This is very nearly the precise opposite of the way the United States has acted over the years, as first exemplified by David Crocket’s famous aphorism, “first, be always sure you’re right, then, go ahead.” In his day, Crocket, a more well-known politician than is today appreciated, and his ilk were called “Go Ahead Men,” as indeed the United States was a “go ahead nation.” Application of the precautionary principle might have prevented the Alamo, but it also would have lost Texas to the United States, and perhaps the rest of our current national territory.

Similarly, the High Minded in much of the world are now obsessed with Global Warming or “Climate Change” as some of its worshippers call it, and to be fair this obsession is rampant in America as well. Czech President Vaclev Klaus has rightly observed that Warming has overtaken Socialism as an organizing principle around which the High Minded are rallying to advocate new rationales for greater governmental control over our individual lives, substituting one rationale for another in the quest to achieve the same objective: stronger governmental authority and less individual freedom. Here, the importance of alternative scenarios becomes important. Much as I fear it, I cannot deny that sacrificing liberty on the altar of Global Warming is a real possibility for the United States. If we sacrifice enough of it, the declinists may well turn out to be correct, although not for the reasons they relied upon.

Finally, theories of American decline also rest in part on the ahistorical notion that there are no longer real threats to Western countries, as some put it because we have come to “the end of history.” With no threats to worry about, this logic continues, who needs a military superpower to protect itself or the rest? American might, under this theory is therefore irrelevant, and need not be counted in comparing relative national strengths, this greatly diminishing America’s standing in the world. If only. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction–nuclear, chemical and biological–remains an acute threat, whether in the hands of rogue states like Iran or North Korea, or in the hands of terrorists. These threats may be asymmetric for now, but they would be no less fatal for the citizens of any nation subject to attack with such weapons. Unfortunately, we see considerable evidence today that Europe as a whole does not take these threats as seriously as the United States, and the consequences of this lack of concern may well be extremely dangerous, both for Europe and the United States.

I have taken an historical approach to the claims of American decline because we have heard them so many times before, and they have been wrong so many times before. Hearing them again today has to be understood in that context.

It would, however, be foolhardy not to be continuously concerned about America’s place in the world. Complacency is always a threat and a temptation, and it is one to which the United States, like many others, has sometimes succumbed. But over the sweep of America’s history, even if short by European standards, complacency has never taken root for long. Doubtless, in twenty-five years, we could return to the subject of America’s “decline,” and there will be many people arguing that the decline has in fact commenced. They will be just as wrong then as they are today.

America’s First Elder Stateswoman

John R. Bolton |  Jeane Kirkpatrick Memorial Service


Today is Ronald Reagan’s birthday. I think that, at least on this day, it’s always “morning in America.” And if that doesn’t make you feel good, then I suspect Jeane Kirkpatrick might say, you must be a “San Francisco Democrat.”

Twenty-six years ago, we were two weeks into the Reagan administration, and Jeane had just started in New York as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, the initial step on her road to becoming America’s first “elder stateswoman.” She spent over four years in that job, at a contentious and difficult time in our history. Reagan had decided–contrary to the conventional wisdom, including from within his own party–that the Cold War was winnable. He wanted Jeane at the UN to handle that battlefield, which she did magnificently, although at times it could feel, to borrow a Civil War term, like the Wilderness Campaign.

But Jeane was born in Oklahoma, where they say that the only things between them and the north wind blowing out of Canada are a few tumbleweeds. Jeane wasn’t from Muskogee, but she nonetheless bore the imprint described in Merle Haggard’s song about her fellow Okies from that town. Like many Americans, however sophisticated and worldly they become, Okies know their roots, and they’re proud of them.

In fact, Jeane’s time at the U.S. mission on First Avenue in Manhattan–and across the street–could be descibed by a lyric from another Merle Haggard song: “When you’re running down my country, you’re walking on the fighting side of me.” And, let me assure you, that can be a full time occupation at the UN. As Jeane once said, “What takes place in the Security Council more closely resembles a mugging than either a political debate or an effort at problem solving.”

Despite her famous Dallas convention speech in 1984, Jeane worried more about ideas than party, largely because she believed that ideas–more than institutions–shaped the future. It was, of course, her ideas that brought her to Reagan’s attention, and then to the United Nations.

Central to that article in Commentary, “Dictatorships and Double Standards,” was her support for John Stuart Mill’s three fundamental conditions for representative government: “One, that the people should be willing to receive it; two, that they should be willing and able to do what is necessary for its preservation; three, that they should be willing and able to fulfill the duties and discharge the functions which it imposes on them.”

These are tough and unpleasant truths, and hard tasks, the sort Jeane confronted unceasingly during her diplomatic and academic careers, never flinching from the consequences, yet always handling herself with grace and dignity. She inspired generations of students and research assistants; colleagues and adversaries; friends and family; and successors. We will all miss her.

God bless you, Jeane.


Speech by John R. Bolton at the Maxwell School

John R. Bolton |  Los Angeles Times

John R. Bolton’s speech to the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

It is a great pleasure to be here today, Dean Wallerstein. I appreciate your extending an invitation and as Cathy said, we have known each other for a long time and at different capacities. One, right before she became executive director of the World Food Program and she said when I was at the State Department and she was at the Department of Agriculture. I was her campaign manager to get that job and, of course, it succeeded. She was ten years ahead of the World Food Program and did an outstanding job for the United States and for the World Food Program there. Then she went on to the United Nations itself to be Under secretary General for Management, which is no small feat. And it is really picking up from some of that that I want to talk about today–UN reform and US priorities. And after that, I would be happy to try and answer your questions on that subject or any thing else that is on your mind.

I had a client once, a United States Senator now deceased, Gene McCarthy, who was in 1968 a prominent critique of the war in Vietnam, ran for president unsuccessfully. That was his first time; he ran several other times as well. He was my client in a case known as Buckley against Valeo, which was a constitutional challenge to the post-Watergate Campaign Finance Reform Law where I’m happy to say the Supreme Court did declare large chunks of it unconstitutional. Not enough in my view, but we took a shot at it, which is how I got to know Gene McCarthy. And he once said that the word “reform” should be banned from the English language on the theory that reform meant so many different things to so many different people that, fundamentally, it did not mean anything anymore.

Much could be said about the subject of UN reform because a lot of people say they believe in it, and yet, their fundamental approaches are completely contradictory. So even talking about the subject starts off on a somewhat ambiguous note. But what I would like to talk about are several aspects of what have gone under the rubric of UN reform and talk a little bit about what is right about them, what is not, and what the prospects are in the future.

Over the last two years, UN reform has been the subject of a lot of discussion, much of it occasioned by the former Secretary General Kofi Annan’s report In Larger Freedom that came out in–it was a subject of debate in early 2005, and then continuing. And that is really what many people refer to when they talk about UN reform in recent years.

I just want to start with the proposition that although the United States endorsed the reforms, many of the reforms proposed in that report, that was not, in my view, a report that went to the central issues that the United States was concerned about in UN reform. A part of it was the Kofi Annan Legacy Project and part of it, I thought, was really outside the scope of responsibility for a Secretary General. But let me break down some of the areas that he talked about that we did have to deal with because, as I say, the report, whether we liked it or not, was a framing document in the recent debate on the subject.

Now, the first issue, which for many people and many countries around the world, they thought was a centerpiece of UN reform was the question of the composition of the UN Security Council, the Security Council obviously part of the UN as created in 1945. And its composition in 1945 reflected the state of the world as it was then. The five permanent members of the Security Council given the veto power in addition to their permanent status were thought to reflect the victorious powers of World War II. And indeed, as you know in your theater in particular, the United Nations in World War II was the anti-Axis coalition. So even the name and the composition of the Security Council derived from the World War II experience, and the charter reflects the World War II experience in other respects as well, that the prohibition against the enemy states joining the United Nations, the enemy states being the Axis powers of World War II.

Now, the five permanent members as they were then are obviously very different in many respects than the five permanent members that are there today. And in fact, Roosevelt’s initial idea was that there would be four permanent members, what he would call originally “The Four Horsemen.” They did not include France. France was not really a victorious power in World War II. The Vichy Regime was hardly a victorious power, and although Charles de Gaulle did enter Paris at the head of the parade first, it was at the sufferance of General Eisenhower, not because the Free French Forces had done very much more than the Polish Forces on D-Day, or subsequently.

But Churchill unaccountably thought it was important to have France as a permanent member and Roosevelt, against his better judgment, agreed to them. But if you look today, the France and Britain of the Security Council are not the France and Britain of World War II; even though they were exhausted then, they had huge colonial empires, which they do not today.

The Soviet Union was one of the permanent members in 1945. The Soviet Union does not exist anymore; even though the charter has not been changed and the five permanent members listed there include something called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, that does not exist anymore.

The China that became a permanent member was the Republic of China, which found itself on the island of Taiwan four years later and still has not returned. The China that sits in the UN today is the People’s Republic of China. The only country that is as it was, in effect, in 1945 is the United States, which is why in a previous civilian capacity I said if you were doing this over again, you would only have one permanent member of the Security Council. But in any case, we have those five and one significant fact when you talk about Security Council Reform is that none of those five are going to resign.

None of those five are going to resign. So any question about changing the composition is a question of addition and not subtraction. And this is where it begins to get very complicated and why, although there has been extensive debate about reform of the Security Council for at least the last fifteen years, no reform has yet occurred and in my judgment, no reform is likely in the very near future.

The first claimant to become an additional permanent member and the claimant with the best case–in my view the claimant with the only case, the only compelling case for permanent membership–is Japan. Japan is the second largest contributor of assessed contributions to the United Nations. As Japan has gotten beyond some of the interpretations of its post-World War II constitution, it has become a large, significant participant in UN peacekeeping operations and in UN agencies, generally. Japan obviously has a huge global impact because of its economy. And if you were starting afresh, it would be hard to argue today that Japan should not be a permanent member.

But Japan has problems with its campaign. The first is called China, which, almost certainly, under present circumstances, would veto a Japanese permanent seat on the Council. And remember, as I said before, the five permanent members are listed by name in the UN Charter. So to add other permanent members you are talking about amending the UN Charter, which, in addition to all of the other requirements for approval by two thirds of the membership through their constitutional procedures, meaning, in our case, ratification of a treaty amendment by the United States Senate, all five permanent members have to agree to amend the charter, which means any one of them possesses a veto.

China is not enthusiastic about Japan becoming a permanent member, as I have said, and, privately, has made it very clear that they would veto Japan. Now, I personally think that can be overcome, but let us not underestimate the difficulty that Japan faces. Moreover, there is considerable opposition within the UN membership to the idea of Japan alone becoming a permanent member. Even though it may look to you like Japan sits in Asia, to many countries of the so-called Third World or Non-Aligned Movement, Japan looks like a Western country. And having another “Western country,” or a country of the North, does not exactly sit well with those countries.

Now this gets in to some of the internal political dynamics of the UN system, the role played by groups that go under various names, although their membership is largely overlapping. The first is the group of 77 called the G77 in UN parlance, although it does have 132 members today; that is math at the UN. That largely overlaps with another group called the Non-Aligned Movement, which also has a life outside the UN. The Non-Aligned Movement grew up during the Cold War, indicating it was not part of the Western Bloc nor was it part of the Communist Bloc.

One of my predecessors is UN Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in the mid-1990s, meeting with the Ambassador of India to the United States, asked him, “Can you explain to me, now that the Cold War is over, what exactly it is you are non-aligned about?” And he–well, at least according to Moynihan’s telling the story, which I think is probably accurate–the Ambassador from India did not have a very good answer for that. And in fact, I do not think there is a very good answer but, still, there is the Non-Aligned Movement; and they see Japan as what it is–an ally of the United States, which is another reason many of them are not happy about it becoming a permanent member.

But this logic then starts the progression of inquiries about who else should be a permanent member. And this is where addition gets really serious. In Europe, Germany is the largest nation by population; it is the largest economy; it is the engine of the European Union’s economic growth. And in Germany, they look around and say, “Well, if Japan can be a permanent member why should Germany not be a permanent member?” And it is a strong argument. Germany is the third largest contributor to the UN and it is obviously a powerful economic player in its own right.

But then people say, “But wait a minute. This is really beginning to get out of hand. First, you add Japan and it is a treaty ally of the United States. Then along comes Germany, unquestionably a country of the North and the West, another treaty ally of the United States in NATO. This is really getting unbalanced.” So India says, “Well, it is fine if Japan and Germany want to be permanent members but India is clearly deserving as the nation with a large and growing and, probably, the largest population in the world, a huge economy, playing a major role in UN peacekeeping operations. India should be a permanent member.”

And then Brazil says, “Well, we have no objection to them but, by God, we need a Latin American country as a permanent member, and Brazil is the biggest Latin American country–the second biggest country in the Western hemisphere. We should be a permanent member.” And then from Africa, many leaders say, “Well, Brazil has a very strong case but how can you enlarge the permanent membership of the Security Council without representation from Africa? So South Africa has a claim and Nigeria has a claim.”

And then the Arab Nations say, “Well, that is fine, too. Those arguments are certainly compelling but we must have representation from the Arab world, so Egypt should be a permanent member.” And then the debate goes on from there.

There are other countries that say, “Well, these are all interesting arguments,” but Pakistan says, “Well, now wait a minute. If India is going to be a permanent member, that is going to cause us enormous discomfort. So we are either going to be a permanent member along with India or we are going to be opposed to India.” And Italy says, “Well, we have no particular objection to Germany but we are one of the great European countries, too. Why should we not be a permanent member? And besides, if the other enemy states like Japan and Germany are going to be elected to the Security Council, Italy was an enemy state. Why can we not be elected too?”

Mexico says, “We agree with the proposition that there should be a Latin American representative as a permanent member of the Security Council. There is one problem with Brazil–they speak Portuguese. The rest of us in Latin America speak Spanish. How can the representative of Latin America be Brazil? Other African countries say that they do not want to be dominated as they were colonial times by other governments. So if there are going to be permanent seats for Africa, they should rotate among the fifty-plus members of the African geographical group.

And there are other variations of this. I could actually go on for quite sometime with the intricacies of this argument. And you can see–and I have not counted, but we are up to about 10 or 11–maybe 12 permanent members now, up from five. The Security Council will have grown from 15 to around 22 or 23. Other countries are saying, “We do not have aspirations for permanent seats but when the Security Council was established in 1945, there were only between 50 and 60 UN members. It was only a total of 11 members then. It has only been expanded once to 15 in the early 1960s. Now we have 192 members of the UN, and there needs to be more representation for the smaller members on the Security Council.”

And everybody, except the United States, nods and says, “Yes, well, that is reasonable, too.” So by now, we have got the Security Council from about 15 up to about 25 or 26 as everybody by a process of inclusion simply adds more members.

And this is really where in a fairly exceptional fashion, I must say, the United States gets off the train.

The difference between a 15-member Security Council and a 25-member Security Council is more than simply adding 10 members. It fundamentally changes the nature of the dynamic within a body like that. And I can assure you it is hard enough to make decisions with 15 nations in the Security Council. When you talk about adding up to 25, you are talking about, in all likelihood, making it even harder for the Security Council to reach decisions that have an impact in the real world than it is today.

Some expansion–and there is no bright line here, but some expansion of, perhaps, one or two or three more countries probably would not change things fundamentally. But once you start getting beyond that, you really are envisioning a completely different organization and, with respect to the permanent members, you are talking about a radically different vision of what the function of the five permanent members is compared to what Roosevelt and the other framers of the UN Charter had in mind. The five permanent members in 1945, as people complained all the time, were the victorious powers. But the way Roosevelt envisioned the permanent members back then would be to be able to join together to defend against aggression and breaches of the peace elsewhere in the world. It did not simply pick five big countries and they certainly were not looking for geographical balance. They wanted five countries that meant something consequential, which is why they were entitled to the veto.

Today, the five permanent members also happen to be the five legitimate nuclear weapons states as defined by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is another distinction between them and all of the other aspirants for permanent member status. But the outcome of this debate as it has unfolded for 15 years, I think, you can see very quickly is that with so many competing claims with so many different views of what it takes to be a permanent member, with so much opposition from within the UN itself, that effort after effort at changing the composition of the Security Council has failed and there is every prospect that it will fail again.

I think the one thing that can and should be done is what I call a Japan-only or Japan-first test. There is no doubt that Japan qualifies to be a permanent member; in fact, there are some arguments that it is better qualified than some of the existing permanent members and I will leave you to conclude which ones. But Japan would have a difficult role, difficult task, in obtaining a membership even through a concerted effort. But I think it is worthwhile because if people are serious about wanting a different kind of Security Council.

And if they look at what has happened as a practical matter for 15 years, they will see that trying to change everything at once is bound to fail for internal UN political reasons. And that, therefore, even one change in the Security Council could be significant and I think as Japan’s prospects move along, you confront China at that point with the reality. If China is prepared to veto then so be it; it has that right. But I think it would be interesting to see when push came to shove if that is what China would really do. So that would be my suggestion on Security Council reform; otherwise, my prediction would be years and years and, maybe, decades, of the same result which is to say, no change at all.

There were other structural governance changes that Kofi Annan suggested and I will just deal with two, both of which, in my judgment have failed already. The first was the creation of something called the Peace Building Commission. This idea arose out of, I think, a very practical observation that when a UN peacekeeping operation concludes either in the context of conflict between the two countries or in the conflict of Civil War, that simply restoring conditions of peace and security are not enough that, sometimes, because of gross abuses of human rights, sometimes because of the devastation of war, sometimes for other reasons, something more realistically could and should be done to help prevent a recurrence of the conflict that the UN would have just helped in. I think that is perfectly logical. I think it is perfectly sensible. I think that this is the sort of planning that the Security Council, or one of the other principal bodies of the UN–the Economic and Social Council or ECOSOC as it is referred to–these are things that could reasonably be said to fall within their responsibility.

But here we confront the reality of the UN as it is today. I’m tempted to ask–I will ask–how many of you can name one decision that ECOSOC has made in its 62 years of existence? It is all right; neither can I. It is an institution charged with the economic and social side of human life as the Security Council is charged with the side of international peace and security, and it has accomplished almost nothing in its entire existence. Almost nothing–I will get to you, I will get to you. Almost nothing.

The Security Council, frankly, has had mixed results in its existence; mixed results. So here you have a classic UN cultural decision. You have one body that is kind of halfway successful but is not addressing this particular problem. You have another body that has completely failed. So what do you do? Well, the answer is you create a third body and hope that that body will succeed where the other two have not.

Now, the existence of the Peace Building Commission, since it was created at the beginning of 2006, has consisted of several organizational meetings and I can report one year later that it is now organized and, essentially, no on-the-ground activity. I think it is very unlikely–and this is a prediction–very unlikely it will succeed. And yet we devoted enormous effort to creating the Peace Building Commission. And in ten years, we could all re-assemble here; I would propose and I could test my prediction. I would just ask you if any of you in 10 years will be able to name a single decision that the Peace Building Commission has made. Now that is pretty depressing, but let me talk about the other reform, which has been more of a failure; and that is the creation of a new body called the Human Rights Council to succeed what all agreed, I think, was a failed body, the Human Rights Commission.

Human Rights Commission over the years had made a specialty of highly-politicized outcomes. Essentially its largest products were resolutions critical of either the United States or Israel. Its credibility as an arbiter of human rights issue had fallen away and by 2005 and 2006, the Human Rights Commission had no defenders; had no defenders. Everybody agreed that it needed a change, and we went into the negotiation over creating a new body with Kofi Annan, with all of our friends in the European Union and the United States agreeing on a series of changes that we all hoped would produce different results in the elections for the Human Rights Council, the new body, to keep off not only gross abusers of human rights–Libya was a chairman a few years ago of the Human Rights Commission–but also to keep off the countries that voted with the gross abusers to stop real scrutiny of human rights abuses.

And we had a series of procedural devices, including, for example, a requirement that you could not be eligible to be on the Human Rights Commission if you were under Security Council sanctions for the support of terrorism or gross abuses of human rights yourself. I do not think that is very controversial, but we could not find anything like a majority of the membership in the UN to support that or most of the other specific reforms that we wanted. And what happened in negotiations that lasted well over a year was that our European friends, step by step, case by case, fell away from the reforms that we had proposed, as did Kofi Annan. So at the end of the day, as people like to say, the United States was isolated; isolated because we said if you are going to have reform, be serious.

Our European friends and the Secretary General said, “Well, look–” and this is a sort of a motto you could carve over the entry to the UN. They said, “This is the best we can get and we should accept it.” The US view was that we were only going to get to reform the Human Rights Commission one time; that having once adopted a new body with new procedures, the idea that you could come back to it just a few years later and fix it again was pretty remote. So our view was rather than succumb to false reform that we would hold out for a longer period. And we tried to persuade the Europeans with this and we failed. So when the vote came on the Human Rights Council, the United States and Israel and two other small countries voted against it.

But we voted against it as a matter of principle because we wanted real reform, and our prediction was the Human Rights Council, as reconstituted, would not be real reform. And indeed, in the years since it came into–less than a year now it came into operation, the new HRC has performed at best at the same level as the former HRC. It has got a catalogue of anti-Israel resolutions; the only reason it has not had any anti-American resolutions is they keep hoping we will run for election to it so that once we are there, then they can pass anti-American resolutions and our presence will help legitimate it. It has made a travesty of the notion that the UN can speak on Human Rights matters and it is a classic example of giving away in negotiation in the zeal to reach agreement the very reasons that you entered into the negotiation in the first place.

Let me turn next to Management Reform, the effort to make the UN more effective, more accountable, more transparent. There is simply no doubt that, despite the best efforts of a lot of people, including Cathy Brutini, that the UN carries a lot of bureaucratic baggage with it. It varies somewhat among the different agencies of the UN system but it is, at best, an extraordinarily cumbersome bureaucracy. We felt that there were a lot of changes that could be made to streamline the bureaucracy, to make it more responsive, to make it more agile, to clean up the problems that were uncovered in the Oil-for-Food scandal and to make the UN a more effective tool for the resolution of international problems.

We did not agree, therefore, with the first Deputy Secretary General Louise Fourchette of Canada who said in response to the Oil-for-Food scandal, “We do not ever want it. We at the UN do not ever want to do an Oil for Food program again.” We disagreed with that. We wanted a situation where if we had a need, we could go to the UN and ask them to carry out a major program like that. But what we also expected was that such a program could be carried out without corruption and substantial waste, fraud and abuse. So we had a range of reforms that we felt would go a long way toward accomplishing that. And many of our suggestions and some others we had–many of our suggestions came from Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board who was asked by Kofi Annan to look at the Oil-for-Food Program and come up with suggestions.

Volcker issued a series of reports that are a very detailed result of exhaustive investigation. And Volcker, who has been a public servant his entire life, a man with not a partisan bone in his body as far as I can tell, has said publicly he came into this not expecting that it would be a huge task, expecting there would be some problems he could identify and some solutions he could propose. But he came away just stunned at what he found not just in the Oil-for-Food Program but what it showed about the UN system as a whole.

He said in response to a question at the Senate testimony that he gave in the fall of 2005, one Senator asked, “Chairman Volcker, do you think there is a culture of corruption at the UN?” And Volcker said, “No, I do not think there is a culture of corruption. There are examples of corruption but I do not think it is a culture. I think there is a culture of inaction at the UN.” A culture of inaction. And that culture was what our reforms were aimed at.

Now the Secretary General himself recognized that major management changes were needed and he proposed a series of changes to the General Assembly that he himself described as radical. We thought they were by and large good suggestions; we did not agree with each and every one but, by and large, they went in the right direction. So we tried with a number of other countries to push them through the General Assembly. And all of these recommendations were referred to what is called the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly, which deals with budget and management matters.

And in the Fifth Committee, typically these questions are resolved by consensus; typically you do not have votes. But our friends in the Non-Aligned Movement and the G77 said, “Absolutely not. We are not going to accept these changes,” that were proposed not by the United States; proposed by Kofi Annan. They said, “We are not going to accept these changes and if need be, we are prepared to put it to a vote.”

The Europeans did not want to go to a vote because they knew we would lose. I did not want to go to a vote because I still wanted to persuade the G77 but there finally came a point after hours and hours of debate where we said we are going to have to have a vote on the Secretary General’s reforms. I want to stress again–not the US reforms; the Secretary General’s reforms. So they came to a vote both in the Fifth Committee and then in the General Assembly and they were rejected by a vote of about 50 countries in favor of these reforms and about 120 countries against, with the rest not voting. Only 50 countries in favor of these reforms requested by a Secretary General from Ghana who had spent almost his entire professional career as an international civil servant in the UN system.

The 50 countries that voted in favor of the reforms contribute about 80 percent of the assessed budget of the UN. The 120 countries that voted against contributed less than 15 percent, and yet those 120 countries by a more than 2-to-1 margin were able to stop the reforms. In fact, that was not the last vote; the reform campaign went on right up till the end of last year, but I have to tell you it did not succeed. It did not succeed. So that the UN that we have today in management structural budget terms is essentially the same UN we had 2 years ago.

I draw from this lesson the conclusion that efforts at marginal or incremental change in UN structures are not going to succeed and that, therefore, what we need is a more fundamental change in the way the UN system works that would permit the more sweeping changes that I think are necessary. And the only change that I think will work is to move fundamentally away from the system of assessed contributions towards a system of voluntary contributions. Assessed contributions now work in a way that you take the budget, let us say, of the central UN and then each country is assessed a certain percentage of that budget based on a complex formula called capacity-to-pay. The US pays the largest share–22 percent of the regular assessed budget, 27 percent of peacekeeping. Japan, under the new calculation, pays about 16.5 percent; Germany is about 8 percent and the rest go down from there.

The General Assembly has a 192 countries–trust me, I’m not going to do a lot of math here; I just want to give you a couple of examples. The General Assembly has 192 countries, which means 97 is a majority. The lowest assessed percentage contribution for the countries that pay the least is 0.001 percent–you with me?–0.001 percent of the budget. If you start with those countries paying that and then start adding up 0.002, 0.00–you start adding those up and you finally get to 97 countries, which constitute the majority, the lowest assessed contributors, those –the aggregate share of their assessed contribution is 0.289 percent of the budget, which means the United States alone pays 66 times more than a majority of the lowest contributing countries.

And what happens is, it is fun to spend other people’s money and that is what happens in the main UN system. The assessed contribution mechanism creates an entitlement mentality. People know the money is coming in; they do not have the same incentives to perform as when contributions are voluntary.

I think it is generally agreed that the best-run, most effective agencies in the UN system are those that are already funded by voluntary contributions–UN High Commission for Refugees, UNICEF, the World Food Program. Not without their problems to be sure, but looked at across the entire spectrum of UN agencies, these are the ones that have the strongest incentive to perform because if they do not perform, the contributors have the option of going somewhere else. If you introduce this concept more broadly into the UN, I think you would have a much more substantial chance for a sweeping reform and much more possibility that the United States would find the UN a more effective tool for the solution of international problems.

This would be a huge battle but I think it would be a very salutary battle to have because then you would have to get the arguments out there out of abstract management terms and into the real question: What programs are effective? What programs actually accomplish something? And what programs are out of date, should be abolished, consolidated or substantially changed? A debate we have not been able to have even during two years of intense discussion about reform.

Now, we have a new Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon of South Korea, who is now just over a month in office. The United States supported Ban Ki-Moon. He is well known to many others. He served much of his professional career as a South Korean Diplomat dealing with the bilateral relationship with the United States. He is the first Secretary General from a country that is a treaty ally of the United States but he was supported not only by us but by China. And, fundamentally, when it came down to it, it was the support of China and the United States for Ban Ki-Moon that, I think, guaranteed he was going to get the job. He has the possibility in his first six months to make sweeping changes.

He has already encountered enormous resistance in less than a month but he has done some significant things, some of which we suggested. He has asked for the resignation of the top 60 under secretary generals and assistant secretary generals; so something that in the United States when a Presidential administration changes, we take for granted. At the UN this a kind of heresy, but he had the courage to insist on it and I hope if he take steps like that and other steps like that, that he does have a brief opportunity to make real progress in UN reform. So it is something that–this is a time to watch what happens in the UN with particular care because it will tell you a lot about whether if he succeeds in his first six months he will have a chance in the remaining four and a half years of his term or if he serves two terms through a 10-year period as Secretary General.

This has huge importance for the United States. If the UN cannot be reformed, if it is always saddled with the risk that the culture that infused the Oil For Food Program inhibits its ability to solve problems, we will naturally look elsewhere. The UN can be an effective instrument of American foreign policy. But if it does not work our obligation is to say, “Can we fix it? Or are there alternatives?” And I think in the international marketplace for problem-solving, competition is a good thing. Competition would be good for the United Nations and that is the objective we should see.