Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bolton faces his old school

A recent speech before a Yale audience by United Nations Ambassador John Bolton was greeted (surprise) with hisses and jeers. College kids will be brats sometimes -- which is understandable because they know everything. But as one might expect, Bolton handled himself well:

It was a bittersweet homecoming for United Nations Ambassador John Bolton '70 LAW '74, a former chair of the Conservative Party who returned to the Yale Political Union Monday evening amid a chorus of hisses and politically charged questions.

In his address, which defended the Bush administration's foreign policy, Bolton argued that voluntary contributions from states would allow major donors such as the United States to choose to fund the U.N. programs that they believe to be the most efficient. But while fielding questions from impassioned students packed into Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall, Bolton candidly discussed issues such as nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea, the war in Iraq and his own confirmation battles.

Noting that voluntary contributions are not yet part of President George W. Bush '68's policy on U.N. reform, Bolton said it was unfair for the U.S. to pay 22 percent of the organization's budget in exchange for one vote in the 191-member General Assembly. Agencies like the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, which is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions, are more efficient and more responsive to donor countries, Bolton said.

"Why shouldn't we pay for what we want, instead of paying a bill for what we get?" Bolton said.

That's a valid complaint. The fact that our country provides the U.N. with almost a quarter of it's budget only to have our vote routinely overruled by third world dictatorships and governments that support terrorism leaves a lot to be desired. I personally maintain that we should pull all funding and let those ingrates fend for themselves (I'm speaking of the U.N. here... not Yale).

The audience interrupted Bolton throughout his speech with loud banging on desks and hissing, the typical YPU expressions for approval and disagreement. When asked about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, Bolton said the U.S. -- not other countries or international organizations ­-- should hold its own citizens accountable for possible abuse.

"We don't need anybody else to judge us," he said. "We judge our own."

The answer prompted loud hissing from the audience, but Bolton offered students a question of his own.

"I'm just curious, those of you who are hissing, who do you think will judge better than us?" he asked the audience.

Bolton's answers on this and other issues show that he correctly understands what is at stake -- namely our sovereignty. Are we going to handle our own affairs or are we going to hand power over to a world body that doesn't have our best interests at heart?

Much as some may spit at the notion, Bolton firmly believes that the U.S., with whatever flaws it may have, is fundamentally a good nation and is still the most qualified and best equipped to lead the free world through the challenges ahead. I happen to agree.