WASHINGTON, March 7 — John R. Bolton, a tough-talking arms control official who rarely muffles his views in diplomatic niceties, was chosen Monday by President Bush to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Senate Democrats immediately assailed the nomination, arguing that it didn't make sense for the president to pick a diplomat who has sometimes been critical of the world body at a time when mending fences with the international community was imperative. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Bolton's selection sent ''all the wrong signals.''
Anticipating a possible fight over confirmation — in 2001, Bolton was approved for his current post over the opposition of 43 Democratic senators — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, ''Through our history some of our best ambassadors have been those with strong voices.'' She mentioned former U.N. ambassadors Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
In his tenure, Bolton has angered officials in North Korea and China with his hard-edge approach. In fact, the Pyongyang government, furious with his comments, refused to negotiate with him.
Bolton, whose career has included posts in the administrations of President Reagan and President George H.W. Bush, promised to work closely with members of Congress to advance Bush's policies and said his record demonstrated ''clear support for effective multilateral diplomacy.''
Mindful that he, like the president, has sometimes questioned the relevance of the United Nations, Bolton said, ''Working closely with others is essential to ensure a safer world.''
Rice praised the international organization as she announced Bolton's selection.
''The United States is committed to the success of the United Nations, and we view the U.N. as an important component of our diplomacy,'' she said.
She said Bolton ''knows how to get things done,'' citing his work in nullifying a U.N. resolution that equated Zionism, the philosophic underpinning of a Jewish state, with racism, and in organizing 60 countries to curb the spread of dangerous weapons.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who was alerted in a telephone call from Rice in advance of the appointment, said through a spokesman he looked forward to working with Bolton.
''I don't know about what previous biases he may bring here,'' said spokesman Stephane Dujarric. ''We have nothing against people who do hold us accountable. On the contrary, I think we do want to be held accountable.''
Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee roundly criticized Bolton.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said that if Bush were serious about reaching out to the world, ''why would he choose someone who has expressed such disdain for working with our allies?'' Kerry, the unsuccessful 2004 presidential candidate, said Bolton's nomination ''carries with it baggage we cannot afford.''
Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said Bolton's ''antipathy to the U.N. will prevent him from effectively discharging his duties as our ambassador.''
Diplomats at the United Nations were reserved in their reactions.
Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said, ''I hope that once he is here he will have a deeper perception of what the U.N. is about.''
Algerian ambassador Abdallah Baali said, ''I think when he joins the United Nations he will certainly adapt his views to the United Nations, and I am sure we will work together in a very constructive way.''
Confirmation hearings are expected to be held next month.
Last month, in a strongly worded speech in Tokyo, Bolton lashed out at China for not stopping its munitions companies from selling missile technology to Iran and other nations the United States considers rogue states.
Two years ago, Bolton denounced North Korean leader Kim Jong Il as a ''tyrannical dictator'' and described life under the ruler as ''a hellish nightmare.''
A North Korean spokesman fired back that ''such human scum and bloodsucker is not entitled to take part in the talks'' on North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
In his post as undersecretary for arms control and international security, Bolton, 56, has traveled frequently in the past four years, mostly to try to halt the spread of dangerous technology.
Before the 1991 Persian Gulf War, as an assistant secretary of state for international organizations, Bolton worked with Secretary of State James A. Baker III in organizing an alliance with European and Arab countries for the war to liberate Kuwait, which Iraq had invaded.
Bolton, who has served as Washington's top arms control official, would succeed former Sen. John Danforth, who retired in January. He must be confirmed for the post, which is being filled temporarily by Anne Patterson, a career foreign service officer.
Bolton has been undersecretary of state for arms control and international security since May 2001 and has held a variety of high-level jobs at the departments of Justice and State under Republican administrations.
Monday, March 07, 2005
Attention Chickens! There's a new Rooster in Charge! (of the Chicken Coop)
Fiery Arms Control Expert to be U.S. Ambassador to United Nations