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Bush Loses Another Ally as
UN Ambassador Bolton Resigns in
Face of Senate Hostility

JULIAN BORGER / Guardian (UK) 5dec2006

[More on Bush]

 

Steve Bell cartoon

The White House yesterday bowed to Senate opposition and gave up its attempt to keep its controversial ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, in his job - the latest sign of President George Bush's diminishing authority. Mr Bush issued a statement denouncing the senators, including a Republican moderate, who had blocked Mr Bolton's confirmation process in the chamber's foreign affairs committee. "They chose to obstruct his confirmation, even though he enjoys majority support in the Senate, and even though their tactics will disrupt our diplomatic work at a sensitive and important time," Mr Bush said. "This stubborn obstructionism ill serves our country and discourages men and women of talent from serving."

No successor was announced yesterday, but the choice will provide a telling benchmark of how far Mr Bush is prepared to bow to critics who argued that Mr Bolton, a brusque unilateralist, embodied a foreign policy that was dismissive of international treaties and organisations. The Democratic senator and former presidential candidate, John Kerry, said Mr Bolton's departure could be a turning point for the administration, giving Mr Bush a chance to nominate an ambassador "who enjoys the support necessary to unite our country and the world, and who can put results ahead of ideology".

Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, had faint praise for the outgoing Mr Bolton, who had a reputation for browbeating his foreign counterparts, and who had made disparaging remarks about the UN's usefulness before going to work there. "I think as a representative of the US government he pressed ahead with the instructions he had been given and tried to work as effectively as he could."

Among the possible replacements being talked about in Washington yesterday were Zalmay Khalilzad, a Muslim and the current ambassador to Iraq; Paula Dobrianksy, the undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs; and James Leach, a longstanding Republican congressman and foreign affairs expert who lost his seat in the recent elections.

Mr Bolton is working under a temporary presidential appointment which is due to expire next month. Until last week, the White House had been exploring ways of bypassing Senate opposition, possibly by appointing him as a deputy national security adviser and seconding him back to the UN, but the Democrats had threatened a legal challenge.

"It would have been a huge distraction from everything like Iraq and [the White House] didn't have the stomach for it," said Steven Clemons, a foreign policy analyst at the New America Foundation. "I think there may be a quid pro quo going on to get a smoother transition process for Bob Gates." Mr Gates, nominated to replace Donald Rumsfeld as defence secretary, will face his Senate confirmation hearing today. He is expected to be approved, but Democrats have threatened to bring up past allegations of his involvement in the Reagan era Iran-Contra scandal, and that he sought to politicise intelligence when he was head of the CIA.

Mr Bolton's is the latest administration head to roll since the Republican loss in last month's elections. Mr Rumsfeld was the first to go, followed last Friday by his Pentagon intelligence chief, Stephen Cambone. Ken Mehlman, the Republican party chairman has also announced he will step down in the new year.

The failure of Mr Bolton's nomination has come at a time when the White House is being forced to change course on Iraq by the deteriorating circumstances there.

Mr Annan told the BBC yesterday: "When we had the strife in Lebanon and other places, we called that a civil war; this is much worse."

A bipartisan US commission, the Iraq Study Group (ISG), is due to deliver its much-anticipated recommendations to the White House tomorrow. Its proposals are expected to contribute to pressure for a significant redeployment of American combat troops and a diplomatic overture to Iran and Syria in the interests of peace.

Tony Blair will arrive in Washington only hours after the ISG report, but the White House spokesman, Tony Snow, said that the timing of the prime minister's meeting with President Bush was coincidental and that it had not been designed to discuss the panel's proposals.

Yesterday, Mr Bush held a White House meeting with one of Iraq's most powerful Shia leaders, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and its armed wing, the Badr Organisation. The meeting was part of an administration effort to shore up support for the administration of the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki.

Forced out

Donald Rumsfeld

The biggest scalp so far. He resigned the day after the mid-term elections, and is widely believed to have been sacrificed by George Bush as a gesture to the new Democratic majority. Days before he resigned he sent the president a memo saying US strategy in Iraq was not working and a "major readjustment" was needed, possibly including the withdrawal of combat troops from the front lines.

Stephen Cambone

The resignation of the Pentagon's top intelligence official was announced on Friday. He embodied Mr Rumsfeld's effort to build an intelligence operation in the defence department that would rival the CIA. His resignation came days before confirmation hearings for Mr Rumsfeld's successor, Robert Gates, a former CIA director, who has been sceptical about the Pentagon's intelligence role.

Ken Mehlman

Chairman of the Republican national committee and the moving force behind its hi-tech voter mobilisation techniques that failed to prevent anti-Bush sentiment driving a Democratic victory on November 7. Announced he will step down in January.

John Bolton

The outspoken unilateralist - who once said that if the 38-storey UN building "lost 10 storeys today, it wouldn't make a bit of difference" - was sent to the UN to shake it up but could not get enough support even before the elections because Republican moderates were uneasy about his brusque style. He was given a temporary appointment by the president in the hope that he would win admirers. He did not.

source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,1964184,00.html 4dec2006


Bolton Forced to Quit UN Ambassador Post 

RUPERT CORNWALL / The Independent (UK) 5dec2006

 

Washington The White House bowed to the inevitable yesterday and announced the resignation of John Bolton, the controversial US ambassador to the United Nations whose position had been made all but impossible by the Democrats' midterm election victory.

The exit of Mr Bolton, celebrated for his abrasive manner, hardnosed championing of US interests and thinly veiled scorn for the UN, will see few tears shed in New York even though some diplomats there claimed to detect a softening in his style of late.

But, in a statement, the White House expressed its "deep regret" at his departure, citing his efforts to build Security Council coalitions to block the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea and Iraq. "I'm not happy about it," President Bush said as he met the outgoing ambassador at the White House a few hours later, adding that Mr Bolton had " done a fabulous job for his country."

Never confirmed by the Senate in a vote, Mr Bolton only held his post thanks to a Presidential "recess appointment" that expired at the end of the current Congress, and which cannot be repeated. After the 7 November vote, the administration said it would resubmit the nomination for approval by the lame-duck Congress, still under Republican control.

But that plan was scotched when a key Republican Senator on the Foreign Affairs committee vowed to oppose him, and Joe Biden, the Delaware Democrat who will lead the Committee from January, bluntly told the White House there was "no point" in persisting.

Mr Bolton is the second senior official to quit since the election, following on the heels of Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who resigned on 8 November.

He made his reputation as a driving hardliner in the arms control and national security areas at the State Department, championing neo-conservative ideas and clashing frequently with its former Secretary, Colin Powell. His successor, Condoleezza Rice, pushed for Mr Bolton's move to the UN.

But that was controversial from the outset, given Mr Bolton's record of contempt for the world body including the observation that it " wouldn't make a bit of difference" if 10 storeys were lopped off its 38-storey East Side headquarters. His pressure for reform enraged Third World countries, and brought him into conflict with top UN officials.

Yesterday, these latter showed scant regret at his leaving. "He did the job he was expected to do," Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, who himself steps down at the end of the year, noted drily. Asked for his reaction, Mark Malloch Brown, the deputy Secretary General who has been a special foe of Mr Bolton, replied when asked to comment on the resignation: " No comment and you can say he said it with a smile."

Possible successors include Zalmay Khalilzad, currently the US ambassador in Baghdad, and Nicholas Burns, the No 3 official at the State Department. The former Democratic Senate majority leader George Mitchell is also said to be a candidate.

Meanwhile, Mr Bush held talks in the Oval Office yesterday with Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the largest Shia party in the Iraqi parliament, and on occasion a rival of Nouri al-Maliki, the present Prime Minister. The meeting was a sign of how the White House is being dragged into the intricacies of internal Iraqi politics.

The White House bowed to the inevitable yesterday and announced the resignation of John Bolton, the controversial US ambassador to the United Nations whose position had been made all but impossible by the Democrats' midterm election victory.

The exit of Mr Bolton, celebrated for his abrasive manner, hardnosed championing of US interests and thinly veiled scorn for the UN, will see few tears shed in New York even though some diplomats there claimed to detect a softening in his style of late.

But, in a statement, the White House expressed its "deep regret" at his departure, citing his efforts to build Security Council coalitions to block the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea and Iraq. "I'm not happy about it," President Bush said as he met the outgoing ambassador at the White House a few hours later, adding that Mr Bolton had " done a fabulous job for his country."

Never confirmed by the Senate in a vote, Mr Bolton only held his post thanks to a Presidential "recess appointment" that expired at the end of the current Congress, and which cannot be repeated. After the 7 November vote, the administration said it would resubmit the nomination for approval by the lame-duck Congress, still under Republican control.

But that plan was scotched when a key Republican Senator on the Foreign Affairs committee vowed to oppose him, and Joe Biden, the Delaware Democrat who will lead the Committee from January, bluntly told the White House there was "no point" in persisting.

Mr Bolton is the second senior official to quit since the election, following on the heels of Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who resigned on 8 November. He made his reputation as a driving hardliner in the arms control and national security areas at the State Department, championing neo-conservative ideas and clashing frequently with its former Secretary, Colin Powell. His successor, Condoleezza Rice, pushed for Mr Bolton's move to the UN.

But that was controversial from the outset, given Mr Bolton's record of contempt for the world body including the observation that it " wouldn't make a bit of difference" if 10 storeys were lopped off its 38-storey East Side headquarters. His pressure for reform enraged Third World countries, and brought him into conflict with top UN officials.

Yesterday, these latter showed scant regret at his leaving. "He did the job he was expected to do," Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, who himself steps down at the end of the year, noted drily. Asked for his reaction, Mark Malloch Brown, the deputy Secretary General who has been a special foe of Mr Bolton, replied when asked to comment on the resignation: " No comment and you can say he said it with a smile."

Possible successors include Zalmay Khalilzad, currently the US ambassador in Baghdad, and Nicholas Burns, the No 3 official at the State Department. The former Democratic Senate majority leader George Mitchell is also said to be a candidate.

Meanwhile, Mr Bush held talks in the Oval Office yesterday with Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the largest Shia party in the Iraqi parliament, and on occasion a rival of Nouri al-Maliki, the present Prime Minister. The meeting was a sign of how the White House is being dragged into the intricacies of internal Iraqi politics.

source: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article2040126.ece 4dec2006


Bolton to Resign As U.N. Ambassador 

JOHN D. MCKINNON and YOCHI J. DREAZEN
Wall Street Journal 4dec2006

 

WASHINGTON The departure of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton marked another concession by President George W. Bush to the new political realities facing him, and likely pushes his administration again to the center as he heads into his final two years in office.

Following last month's Democratic congressional election victories, Mr. Bush already had ousted hawkish Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and replaced him with Robert Gates, a pragmatic former U.S. intelligence director who served both Republican and Democratic administrations. His Senate confirmation hearings are expected to begin Tuesday, and he is expected to cruise through the process.

On Monday, the White House said Mr. Bolton had decided to drop his bid for a permanent appointment to the U.N. post, after an unsuccessful last-ditch effort to save the nomination. Mr. Bolton, a sometimes cantankerous conservative with strong views on the need for overhauling the U.N., had been given a recess appointment in August 2005, after his original nomination stalled. The White House resubmitted his nomination last month, just two days after the election that swept Democrats to power in Congress. The administration hoped to win over enough votes in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to move his nomination to the floor, but the effort failed.

It's believed that the administration still was considering a way to put Mr. Bolton in another post and then have him serve as acting U.N. ambassador a move that would surely have provoked outrage among Mr. Bolton's critics. But in his resignation letter to Mr. Bush dated last Friday he said, "I have concluded that my service in your administration should end" when his recess appointment expires in a few days, at the end of the current Congress. (Read Mr. Bolton's resignation letter.)

Alejandro Wolff, the deputy U.S. representative to the United Nations, is expected to be acting U.S. ambassador to the U.N. until a successor is confirmed.

In a statement, Mr. Bush said he was "deeply disappointed that a handful of United States senators prevented Amb. Bolton from receiving the up or down vote he deserved," and said Mr. Bolton had majority support. Aides went further, saying the defeat was due to "partisanship and not performance." (Read the statement.)

At least one Republican critic, Ohio Sen. George Voinovich, had decided based on Mr. Bolton's performance in office to support him. Mr. Voinovich Monday said that Mr. Bolton "has risen to the occasion and done a good job under the harshest of circumstances," adding that he is concerned about losing Mr. Bolton's expertise and contacts on such hot topics as Iran, North Korea and Lebanon.

But at least a handful of Republicans in addition to large numbers of Democrats continued to oppose his nomination. The incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Joseph Biden (D., Del.), said the president "now has an opportunity to nominate an ambassador who can garner strong bipartisan and international support."

Mr. Bolton's successor will be a central player in the administration's ambitious diplomatic efforts in the broader Middle East. The White House is facing mounting pressure to convene an international summit about Iraq that would include longstanding adversaries like Iran and Syria, but such a gathering could only be convened with heavy U.N. involvement.

More pressingly, Mr. Bolton's successor will have to maintain the shaky international consensus on Iran as the administration's high-stakes showdown with Tehran enters a critical phase.

The Security Council has been deadlocked for months over Iran, with powerful nations like Russia and China making clear that they won't support U.S. language imposing sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. That means the U.S. may be forced to accept a far-weaker resolution than it initially wanted, dramatically complicating the administration's efforts to build a coalition willing to forcibly disarm Iran if necessary.

Speculation on Mr. Bolton's replacement has focused on the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad; Andrew Natsios, the administration special envoy for Sudan; and under secretary of state Paula Dobriansky. It's also possible that the administration will figure it's easier to win confirmation for a current or defeated member of Congress. For example, Rep. Jim Leach (R., Iowa), who lost his bid for re-election last month, also was being mentioned by Republicans.


Bush Statement on Bolton Leaving

4dec2006

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 4, 2006

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

It is with deep regret that I accept John Bolton's decision to end his service in the Administration as Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations when his commission expires.

Over a year ago, I appointed Ambassador Bolton because I knew he would represent America's values and effectively confront difficult problems at the United Nations. He served his country with extraordinary dedication and skill, assembling coalitions that addressed some of the most consequential issues facing the international community. During his tenure, he articulately advocated the positions and values of the United States and advanced the expansion of democracy and liberty.

Ambassador Bolton led the successful negotiations that resulted in unanimous Security Council resolutions regarding North Korea's military and nuclear activities. He built consensus among our allies on the need for Iran to suspend the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium. His efforts to promote the cause of peace in Darfur resulted in a peacekeeping commitment by the United Nations. He made the case for United Nations reform because he cares about the institution, and wants it to become more credible and effective.

I am deeply disappointed that a handful of United States Senators prevented Ambassador Bolton from receiving the up or down vote he deserved in the Senate. They chose to obstruct his confirmation, even though he enjoys majority support in the Senate, and even though their tactics will disrupt our diplomatic work at a sensitive and important time. This stubborn obstructionism ill serves our country, and discourages men and women of talent from serving their Nation.

I thank John Bolton for the dedication and skill with which he performed his duties, and his wife Gretchen and daughter Jennifer Sarah for their support as Ambassador Bolton served his country. All Americans owe John Bolton their gratitude for a job well done.

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