September 06, 2006

Congressman Schiff Writes to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Urging Opposition to Bolton Nomination

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Adam Schiff today sent a letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Ranking Member Joseph Biden (D-DE) urging the committee to oppose the nomination of John Bolton to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to hold a vote on Mr. Bolton’s nomination tomorrow.  Nineteen Democratic House Colleagues joined Schiff in signing the letter. 

“This Administration, like its predecessors, has a broad pool of talent to choose from in filling this critical post," Schiff said. "At a time when Iran is thwarting the will of the international community, North Korea is testing missiles, and the Middle East is a powder keg, Mr. Bolton has not demonstrated that he is the best choice for job.  And we need the best."

The full text of the letter is below.

September 6, 2006

The Honorable Richard Lugar   
Committee on Foreign Relations     
United States Senate SD – 450
Washington, DC  20510    

The Honorable Joseph Biden
Ranking Member
Committee on Foreign Relations
United States Senate SD – 450 
Washington, DC  20510

Dear Senator Lugar and Senator Biden:

We write to respectfully request that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee report adversely Ambassador John Bolton’s nomination as U.S. Representative to the United Nations with the rank of Ambassador when it meets to consider the nomination on September 7 th.
As you know, unless Ambassador Bolton is confirmed by the Senate, his service at the United Nations will end at the conclusion of the 109th Congress in January 2007.

We had significant concerns about Ambassador Bolton’s suitability for the position as America’s UN Ambassador when his nomination was first considered by your committee last year.  His deep-seated hostility to the United Nations as an institution, his skepticism about the utility of working with allies and others to solve international problems, his treatment of subordinates and the Administration’s unwillingness to hand over documents requested by the Committee were proper grounds for the Senate’s decision not to take up his nomination, thereby leading to his recess appointment by the President.

Ambassador Bolton’s tenure in the United Nations over the last thirteen months has done little to allay our doubts about his suitability for the position as this country’s second most important diplomat.  The United Nations has been gravely weakened by years of mismanagement and structural deficiencies.  It is in serious need of reform and, as the largest contributor and host nation, the United States should be leading that reform effort.  We do not believe that Mr. Bolton is truly committed to reinvigorating the UN to make it relevant in the 21st Century.  We also believe that Ambassador Bolton lacks the requisite diplomatic skills and temperament to operate effectively at the UN.

During this year’s consideration of a package of management reforms that the U.S., our allies and Secretary General Annan supported, Ambassador Bolton's conduct and belligerent style alienated key allies and proved ineffective, most visibly in the failure to make any progress on consolidating UN operations to make them more efficient and cost-effective.  Similar tactics backfired during consideration of the new UN Human Rights Council and the lack of sustained American leadership resulted in a weakened council that the U.S. does not believe it can join.

At a time when the United States and other Security Council members must work together to block Iran’s quest for the nuclear fuel cycle and build a lasting peace in Lebanon, we need a representative at the UN who is deeply committed to the multilateral diplomacy needed to effectuate a successful resolution of these crises.  Unfortunately, Ambassador Bolton has a long record of hostility to working with other international actors and he has also expressed skepticism about whether the UN should have any role in peacekeeping efforts.
We should be using our leading role at the UN to strengthen our alliances around the world to help combat terrorism, end longstanding regional conflicts, end the genocide in Darfur, confront global environmental challenges, and stop the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.  There are a great many talented public servants who would make superb ambassadors to the UN and are held in great esteem here at home and around the world.  Regrettably, John Bolton is not one of them.  With all the depth of talent to draw upon for such a critical position, why should America settle for someone who is clearly not the best choice? We respectfully urge you to oppose his nomination and to ask President Bush to nominate a new Ambassador who can be both tough and effective.