December 5, 2006 | The New York Sun

After Bolton

The Democratic majority hasn't even formally taken over on Capitol Hill, yet it already has a scalp to claim — that of the American ambassador at the United Nations, John Bolton. It is a sad moment. Mr. Bolton entered his ambassadorship a hero among many here for his role, during the administration of President George H.W. Bush, in winning the repeal of the United Nations resolution equating Zionism with racism. Since he got here, he and his wife Gretchen have participated widely in the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners around town. As people gained a sense of how hard he worked in pursuit of America's interests, the affection this city holds for him has grown enormously.

There will be now a scramble to fill Mr. Bolton's shoes. Among those touted as potential successors are George Mitchell, a Democrat who was a failure as a Middle East peacemaker; Senator DeWine, who doesn't have much of a foreign policy reputation and who failed to win re-election in Ohio; and Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador in Baghdad who has skillfully deflected onto President Bush the blame for what has gone wrong in Iraq. Our own instinct is that at this point a good confirmation fight would be worth more than the confirmation of any one of the above.

Mr. Bush could get this kind of illuminating fight with the nomination of, say, Claudia Rosett, the brilliant journalist who pursued so doggedly the oil-for-food scandal. Senator Coleman and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are other inspired partisans who come to mind. But there will be plenty to choose from. To the extent the United Nations is useful at all, it is as a megaphone for explaining American policy to the world. Sending anyone to Turtle Bay with hopes of doing anything other than delivering the American message, trying to catch crooks misusing taxpayer dollars, and blowing the whistle on the anti-Israel bias would be naïve. The best move the president would make is to react to the defeat of Mr. Bolton by moving now to hold back as much money as he can of the $5 billion a year America spends on the United Nations. It's the least he could do if he can't get his most trusted choice as envoy to look out for how our money is spent.

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