Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Understanding Dodd

U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd has vigorously opposed the nomination of John Bolton as a United States U.N. delegate.

This is not the first time Dodd has opposed Bolton, a friend of liberty, and a vigorous critic of Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il and other dictators. Bolton’s critique of the Cuban and Korean dictators has been unsparing, truthful and very undiplomatic. A diplomat is supposed to be someone whose iron fist is sheathed by a velvet glove. Bolton, some of his critics assert, conceals his iron fist in a mailed glove.

Someone once suggested that the United States might want to offer a carrot to North Korea from time to time, in addition to beating it with a big stick, to which Bolton replied, “I don’t do carrots.” That blunt talk, Trumanesque in its inspiration, frightens the Dickens out of Dodd and others, who believe that the velvet glove of the diplomat should conceal a velvet fist.

In selecting Bolton as a UN delegate, Dodd said, Bush had made a poor choice. His opposition to Bolton has nothing to do with ideology. “There are plenty of other good people who embrace his ideological views who can go up," and still implement the major changes that Bush is pressing for at the United Nations. "John Bolton is not that individual."

In financial matters, you can be certain that when someone protests, concerning a prospective deal, “It’s not the money,” it’s the money. Dodd’s opposition to Bolton has everything to do with their respective ideologies. But what kind of “ideologue” does it take to become assertive when dictators like Kim Jong Il seek to acquire nuclear weapons, and dare one say the truth about Castro in the hallowed meeting rooms of the United Nations?

William F. Buckley Jr. was being less than diplomatic when he wrote about Jamil Baroody in his “United Nations Journal: A Delegate’s Odyssey” that the Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia was a “protracted bore. A hundred speeches by Baroody is the ne plus ultra in UN-sadism.”

After quoting at length from an interminable and wrong-headed speech given by Baroody, Buckley concluded, “Well, I had run into Baroody. And the question of course is: Were he and the United Nations made for each other? One senator remarked, on learning in 1934 that Louisianans had sent Huey Long to the Senate, that Caligula had at least sent both ends of a horse to his senate.”

Not very diplomatic, all that.

Voting against Republican nominees is nothing new to Dodd: In his distinguished career in the Senate as a Democrat obstructionist, Dodd has voted down more than a dozen people selected by presidents, mostly conservative, who rubbed his ideological fur the wrong way. He opposed Bolton in his present position and was successful in keeping the nomination of ardent anti-Castroite Otto Reich from reaching the Senate floor.

Dodd has often said, untruthfully, that he is inclined to allow the president whatever choices he makes, though he has appeared to be rather prickly towards anyone who is willing to take active measures against home-alone Latin American tyrants such as Castro, the Ortega brothers of Nicaragua and, more recently, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, whose ambition it is to turn a once prosperous pro-western country into a Cuban backwater replete with political prisoners and an intimidated press that kowtows to tyrants.

Dodd is doing a Reich on Bolton, he has said, because “at a time when we're so concerned about the credibility of our American intelligence, the wall between the policy setter and those who collect the intelligence must be sacrosanct; it must be a very tall wall. And (Bolton has) sought to break down that wall."

The danger Dodd fears is that a policy maker may stretch the facts he has received from impartial collectors of fact on the Procrustean bed of ideology. It is by no means certain that Bolton has done this, and these dangers are less troublesome in the case of U.N. delegates, who are never policy makers but conduits through which policy, shaped by others, is presented in an international forum.

The important differences between Dodd and Bolton are ideological. A creature of what some have called “the greatest deliberative body on earth,” Dodd trusts too much in the gentle art of persuasion – particularly as it applies to Fidel Castro, who is impervious to persuasion.

For Bolton, government is, as it was for George Washington, force. Anti-Castroites are realists, who understand that the gentle art of persuasion is effective only when it is applied to gentle men.

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