Thursday, June 29, 2006

NY Observer: John Bolton is the United Nations.

UN: It makes for a great read as Bolton has made his presence felt around that useless organization.

"Diplomats at the United Nations have found U.S. Ambassador John Bolton’s behavior so inexplicable that a virtual quasi-science has sprung up, aimed at divining his true intentions. The primary school of thought, according to one diplomat, is that Mr. Bolton, who has made plain his disdain for the world body since arriving there 11 months ago, is playing to a domestic audience of U.N. skeptics, possibly with an eye on future political ambitions. A second theory, said another official who works in the U.N., holds that Mr. Bolton is busily storing up anecdotes that will form the basis of a book about his experiences: He did his best to change the organization, but, tragically, the bureaucracy and corruption were too much even for him to overcome. “A lot of us wonder what his real agenda is,” a European diplomat told The Observer. “First, we think maybe he wants things to fail because then he can say, ‘We cannot reform this place.’ The other question is, does he really reflect the position in Washington? That is always the question: Is it Bolton or is it Washington?” The fact that international officials have come to engage in abstract theorizing about Mr. Bolton’s motives is a testament both to the genuine shock inspired within the diplomatic ranks by his behavior and to the center-stage role he has assumed since arriving in Turtle Bay. Just last week, Mr. Bolton attacked the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, after she expressed “grave concern” about the reported existence of secret detention centers. And that mini-row came hot on the heels of Mr. Bolton’s clash with the Deputy Secretary General of the U.N., Mark Malloch Brown. Mr. Bolton reacted with fury to a speech in which Mr. Malloch Brown contended that U.S. politicians did not defend the U.N. from domestic criticism with sufficient vigor. Mr. Bolton told reporters that the speech was “the worst mistake by a senior U.N. official that I have seen” since at least 1989. But despite the indignant reactions to the ambassador’s angry outbursts—Secretary General Kofi Annan pointedly refused his requests to criticize Mr. Malloch Brown’s speech—Mr. Bolton is anything but a pariah, and he is often the center of attention at official and social events. “People talk to him because he is at the center of the game,” explained the European diplomat with a mixture of wonder and exasperation. “He has succeeded in becoming the center of the story. He has become the most important person here, more important even than the Secretary General.” The diplomat added with a laugh, “He has become the U.N.” It’s a fairly shocking notion....."

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