Joined: 02 Sep 2006
|Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:57 pm Post subject: John Bolton speech to CPAC
|I had the pleasure of attending this "red meat" speech to conservatives in Washington DC at the CPAC conference. Read the whole thing. He doesn't hold back.
|Ambassador John Bolton
Conservative Political Action Conference
February 10, 2006
Thank you very much, David. I appreciate your kind remarks. I want to say at the beginning, thank you. I want to say thank you most significantly of course to President Bush and Secretary Rice for having put me up for this position and for having stuck by me during what can only be described as a difficult confirmation process and for continuing to stand behind the efforts that we are making at the UN. Without President Bush and Secretary Rice it goes without saying I would not be here. But I want to thank the people in this room as well because I know that many of you who probably had not met me, didn’t have anything to gain by pitching in during that confirmation battle, but to help further the president’s policies and to help further our common philosophy. I want to thank everybody here for whatever you did during the course of the confirmation fight and for what you’ve done since then too.
It is very important in words that I really can’t say adequately to know that there are people who whatever various media outlets or politicians are saying are thinking to themselves we support you, we wish you well, we wish you the best. And I do deeply appreciate it and so does my family.
I want to say also with Jeane Kirkpatrick here tonight that Jeane has been an inspiration to me every day I’ve been in New York. Jeane and I have been friends for a long time; we were colleagues together at the American Enterprise Institute. I’m extremely glad she is here tonight and the example that Gene has given about how to represent America, how to advocate America’s interests I think should animate all American diplomats.
But tonight I would like to talk to you about the situation that we face at the United Nations and the plans and the efforts that President Bush and Secretary Rice are making to reform that institution. Let me just lay out quickly some of the difficulties that we face: the oil-for-food scandal as was investigated by former fed chairman Paul Volker revealed corruption and mismanagement in what should have been a humanitarian program allowing bribery, kickbacks, and examples of favoritism and the distortion of what should have been a humanitarian program in a way that actually helped Saddam Hussein strengthen his control over the Iraqi people. This was a huge lesson and one that tells us a lot about what we need to do to reform the UN because the problems of the oil-for-food program didn’t spring out of thin air. The way the oil-for-food program emerged was from the culture that existed already at the UN; the way business was done. So what we have learned since about the oil-for-food program and what we will learn in the future through continuing congressional investigations, investigations by federal law enforcement officials, will tell us a lot more about what needs to be changed at the United Nations. When Chairman Volker testified last fall before the senate, Senator Coleman of Minnesota asked him if he thought he had uncovered a culture of corruption at the United nations and Chairman Volker paused and said: “No, I don’t think there is a culture of corruption at the United Nations although there is corruption; I think there is a culture of inaction.” And it was in response to that really that Secretary Rice said to the general assembly in September that she thought we needed to bring a lasting revolution of reform to the United Nations. Now, it’s not often that a Secretary of State calls for a revolution, but I think that shows how strongly she and the President feel. But there is more than the oil-for-food scandal. Recently, the United Nations’ own Internal Inspector General issued a report on peace keeping operations—an audit covering 27 major contracts over a six-year period including expenses of a little bit more than a billion dollars. The U.N.’s own Office of Internal Oversight Service, as its called, concluded that somewhere between 265 million and 298 million of that amount of money was subject to waste, fraud, or abuse; that is to say nearly thirty percent of the total. Now if those figures are correct, compare them to this figure: the United States bears typically between twenty-five to twenty-seven percent of the cost of UN peacekeeping operations. So out of a billion dollars of peacekeeping expenses over a six-year period it would be fair to say the United States paid 250 to 270 million of that. If the U.N.’s own figures are right, and 265 million or more was wasted, that means, in effect, the entire American contribution was subject to waste, fraud, or abuse. We cannot accept that.
And in the realm of peace keeping which has been a signal program for the United Nations and one that’s pointed to, and in many cases justifiably, as an example of the UN success we found a practice that’s gone on for decades [and] only recently understood fully how rampant the practice was of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers. This involves some of the most vulnerable populations in the world: people who have been subjected to civil war or international war [and] people who are desperately in need of protection. And yet these vulnerable people are themselves subject to exploitation and abuse by the very people sent to protect them. That too, is unacceptable.
And finally, we have the pervasive anti-Israel sentiment at the United Nations. This manifests itself in a lot of different ways. A catalogue would take us too long to go through tonight. Recently, one example of this was at a day of international solidarity with the Palestinian people, as it’s called, where secretary general of the United Nations spoke, the president of the General Assembly, the president of the Security Council all in front of a map of the eastern end of the Mediterranean, a very interesting map; it did not contain the state of Israel. Now, at a time when the president of Iran is calling for Israel to be wiped off the map, denying that the Holocaust occurred, suggesting that Israel be moved to Germany or Alaska or whatever his latest idea was, this is more than symbolic. This speaks to another kind of culture at the United Nations. It speaks to a culture of anti-Semitism [and] an anti-Israeli feeling that for many people is a surrogate for anti-American feeling. I’m pleased to say that today the Secretary General spoke at a meeting of the committee—this is a true UN name—a Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and the map was not there. Now that’s a step forward. But let’s face it; the map is not the real problem. The map is the evidence of the problem, a culture of anti-Israeli feeling that should not be acceptable in an organization that purports to have universal membership.
Now, everything at the UN is not bad by any stretch of the imagination. I think the U.N.’s work in delivering humanitarian assistance around the world is very credible and something that Americans—the most generous and humanitarian people on earth—have consistently supported. We’ve got some outstanding examples. Let me just mention a few: Anne Vinemon, former Secretary of Agriculture, now the director of the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, is doing an outstanding job for children and families around the world. Jim Morris, the head of the world food program, in charge of dispensing food and other humanitarian assistance in disasters and areas of civil strife around the world, where America has always been the largest contributor to the world food program. He is doing an excellent job as well. And finally I want to mention my friend, Chris Burnham, Undersecretary General of the UN for Management and Administration. Now, talk about a difficult job. Chris Burnham has a difficult job and he’s doing an outstanding job there at the UN trying to get ethics and whistleblower protections installed, [and] trying to get modern accounting systems and systems of control and accountability generally. He’s come under a lot of criticism by many member governments that think things are just fine at the UN. I support Chris, the administration supports Chris, we need to watch and protect him in his efforts because they are truly dedicated to reforming the UN and making it a better place. These are just three examples and it’s probably no coincidence they’re all Americans, but they’re up there working for common objectives and doing a terrific job.
The reform that President Bush and Secretary Rice are committed to is a broad and complex subject. This is not a situation where we’ve got one or two or three problems at the UN that need to be fixed; the problems are pervasive and I just want to run through a couple this evening to give you an example--to give you some examples--of the scope of the activities we are engaged in. First, we’re looking at a number of possibilities of reforming the UN Security Council, a body at the UN that has been extremely valuable in American foreign policy over the years and that can be an effective vehicle for the implementation of our foreign policy objectives. The Security Council in its present form was created in 1945; it needs to be modified to reflect the 21st century. What we don’t need, however, are reforms in quotes to the Security Council that vastly increase its size and reduce its effectiveness. Our first principle on Security Council reform is “do no harm,” and that’s not an easy principle to defend in New York, but it’s something that we feel strongly about and is a high priority for the United States. That’s one area of reform in UN governance.
Another example of reform in UN governance is our effort to replace the completely discredited United Nations Human Rights Commission with a new human rights decision making mechanism that will actually, hold your breath, defend human rights. We have seen in the existing human rights commission membership by such stalwarts of human rights as Cuba and Zimbabwe; it’s been chaired by Libya. Most Americans look at that and say “what’s going on here?” Our conclusion is that the Human Rights Commission in its present form cannot be fixed; it needs to be abolished. We are making substantial efforts with our friends on that, but the enemies of reform in the human rights area are strong at the United Nations. The outcome is in doubt. And its something that will be, I think, important to watch over the next several weeks in particular. But in addition to governance reform, it’s critical at the UN that we have management reform as well because the tasks that the UN member governments give to the organization have to be carried out by the secretariat and the other parts of the UN. And I’ll just give you a few of our priorities there.
The first is probably the most important management decision we will make during the course of this year, and that’s the selection of the next secretary general. The next secretary general who will take office on January 1, 2007 in our view should be somebody who has the qualifications that are actually set out in the UN charter. The UN charter says that the Secretary General is the Chief Administrative Officer of the organization—Chief Administrative Officer. That’s what we want. We want somebody that will run the organization, who will administer the programs that the member governments set-up. We’re now engaged in a worldwide search for that person at the UN, following a lot of conventions that have existed for a long time. There is a theory that it’s inevitably Asia’s turn. They’ve only had one secretary general. Western Europe has had three, Latin America has had one and Africa has had two. Our view is if an Asian is the best qualified person we will strongly support that person. But if the best qualified person comes from another region of the world, we will support that person. In this theory of regional rotation, one regional group, Eastern Europe, has never had a Secretary General. And it’s certainly a region with a lot of talent and a place that we are looking at as well. But it is critical that we pick the right secretary general because if the reforms that we are seeking to achieve this year are actually pushed through the UN General Assembly, the next Secretary General will have five years to implement them effectively. So this is an important decision and one that we’re already spending a lot of time on, and I think justifiably so. At the September summit that President Bush attended last year, the heads of state that came together gave the secretariat critical directions for the additional management review we need. [And] to have a review of all of the some 3,000 mandates that have been given to the UN over the years. To look at those that are outdated or where there’s overlap or duplication to prepare the ground for us to undertake the sweeping reform that Secretary Rice called for. That review and other reviews should be published this month, so we expect over the next four months to have a very active period of reviewing, really, from square one. A lot of UN programs have existed and grown up over the years, but have never been subject to systematic review.
To aid us in that effort, we were able to get, at the end of December, a cap on UN expenditures, instead of simply approving a two year budget for the United Nations, a two year budget by the way, which in regular activities is a mere 3.8 billion dollars. We imposed a cap of nine-hundred and fifty million dollars, one quarter of that budget, meaning that the spending authority for the secretariat will run-out in June. Many countries at the UN accused us of putting pressure on the members by proposing this expenditure cap. I don’t believe that’s pressure; I call it “intellectual discipline” that will help focus people’s attention as the end of June draws near and the money begins to run-out and we see where we are on reform. We need to look at structures that have existed for years without having been justified. I can tell you, back when I served in the first Bush administration, Bush 41, that I once met the head of an agency, a UN agency called the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), one of 5 economic commissions the UN has around the world. And the head of this Economic Commission for Europe explained—and I thought very well—what the justification for the ECE was. He said, “You know, we’re the only bridge between the Capitalist economies of Western Europe and the Socialist economies of Eastern Europe, and that’s our real function. That’s why we’re much better than those other economic commissions, which, really don’t do very much in Latin America, [or] the Pacific. But, we are really important here in Europe.” Well, you may have noticed, fifteen years later there are no real socialist economies in Eastern Europe anymore and there’s no real need for a bridge institution, so I’ll be eager to find out what the latest justification is for the existence of the Economic Commission for Europe or some other UN agencies that produce paper but no real action. Our view is that if you’re going to have effective UN institutions, they should have a positive impact on the real world and not exist simply to consume forests printing paper that nobody reads.
We also need to look at outdated, and indeed, in many cases, harmful institutions [such as] the several offices that have been created that function as part of the anti-Israel network at the United Nations. All of this is going to take a lot of effort, and a lot of it will be seemingly hard to understand bureaucratic tussles. But, it goes, I think, to the basic point that Secretary Rice made when she talked about the need for a revolution in reform. When you contrast that with Chairman Volker’s culture of inaction, you can see the revolution in reform meeting the culture of inaction could be like the irresistible force meeting the immovable object and we’ll just see what prevails. But of course the real purpose of reform is to get better substantive outcomes. This is not just a management academic exercise.
What we want are institutions that perform more effectively and are more supportive of American foreign policy, and let me just give you a couple of examples there. On Iraq, where there was enormous disagreement with President Bush’s courageous decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein, we have been working with the government of the new Iraq to get the United Nations more involved, to help out in their electoral process, to spur involvement by other governments proving the point that the success of democracy in Iraq is a priority for all of us. Just a few months ago, we achieved in the Security Council, a unanimous resolution endorsing the continued presence of the international force in Iraq. This is important for many of our allies. Countries like Denmark need UN authorization for their domestic political purposes and a unanimous Security Council resolution, I think, shows the success of President Bush’s diplomacy in overcoming some of those differences that occurred in the run-up to the Iraq War.
In the case of Lebanon and Syria, we have achieved significant advances in trying to restore Lebanon to a condition of democratic self-government within its own territory, a government that controls its entire territory. We have, through the Security Council and through international pressure caused the withdrawal of Syrian military forces from Lebanon. The Lebanese people have benefited from free and fair parliamentary elections; they need to benefit from free and fair presidential elections as well. We’re working on that. Working to demarcate the boundaries between Syria and Lebanon and get the Syrians to exchange ambassadors may sound like small things, but it helps the Syrians understand that, actually, Lebanon is an independent country. We’re continuing to support the efforts of the international investigative commission that we set up to help the Lebanese government find out who was responsible for assassinating their former Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri. The initial reports of this commission point to the highest levels of the Syrian government. That tells you something about the nature of that regime. And all of this has been done in close collaboration with France and with Britain and other members of the Security Council who do share our value that democracy in countries like Lebanon is important and indeed shows the way throughout that region.
We’re also working on the Sudan, where the tragedy of Darfur continues, where the security situation remains unacceptable and where, under President Bush’s direction, we are moving as rapidly as we can to establish a UN peacekeeping force to take over from the African Union mission in Darfur. This is something the President and the Secretary have attached as very high priority for the American presidency of the Security Council, which is now in the month of February. We have started contingency planning to turn the peacekeeping mission over from the African Union to the UN. There still remain many obstacles there; the government of Sudan has not agreed to this. Other countries on the Security Council with the veto are not necessarily happy about this idea, but the President has made it clear that he wants this to happen. We’re going to move as far and as fast as we can during the month of February to get this force moving along to protect the innocent people of the Darfur region.
And finally, as I’m sure you’ve all seen after approximately three years of effort, the International Atomic Energy Agency just last week has voted to report the Iranian nuclear weapons program to the Security Council. This is a major victory for President Bush’s diplomacy, in bringing not only our traditional allies in Western Europe (Britain and France and others) who serve on the board of governors at the IAEA, but getting affirmative votes from Russia and China, the two other permanent members of the Security Council. This is now in a short waiting period to give the Iranians yet another chance to see reason and accept that we will not allow them to have nuclear weapons. They are now considering a very generous offer by Russia for the supply of nuclear fuel. We will wait as the five foreign ministers of the permanent members agreed in London until the March IAEA board meeting to see if Iran sees reason on this point. There is a model they can follow. Like Libya, they could come to the conclusion that the pursuit of nuclear weapons is actually more harmful to their country than giving up the pursuit of nuclear weapons. Libya did that, allowed full inspection of its nuclear facilities by our intelligence services and those of the British and allowed us to dismantle their nuclear program and move it to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where it now lives. I can say there’s room at Oak Ridge, Tennessee for the Iranian nuclear weapons program when they give that up. This will be a test for the Security Council if the Iranians don’t do this voluntarily, but it’s something the President has made clear over and over again, that he will not accept an Iran with nuclear weapons. And [all that is] just highlighted by the comments of the Iranian President about how there was no Holocaust and how Israel should be wiped off the map. If you can imagine a man like that with his finger on the nuclear button, if that’s not frightening, ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know what is.
This is a critical time for American foreign policy at the United Nations. It’s something the President and Secretary have taken a deep personal interest in, and I’m honored to have the chance to serve them up there, and to serve all of you, because ultimately, what American diplomats really do is represent the American people. Thank you very much.