U.N. Hit by a Bolt From the Right: John Bolton is seen as ‘brilliant’ or as ‘a bully.’ But the U.S. ambassador is having an impact. (Maggie Farley, December 23, 2005, LA Times)

Some call him “a bully,” and others say he is “brilliant.” But opinion is divided about whether he is effective — if he is cleaning up the mess, or adding to it.

“He is having a definite impact,” said Ambassador Mihnea Motoc of Romania, a temporary member of the Security Council. “Others wish they could do things the same way.” […]

Just as member states were brushing themselves off from the last collision Bolton precipitated, over an agreement on how to reform the U.N. before the World Summit in September, the U.S. ambassador is setting up a new showdown.

He has threatened to block the world body’s budget for 2006-07 unless diplomats commit to “real reform” by the end of 2005, a year that has seen the organization severely damaged by revelations of corruption and mismanagement in the Iraq oil-for-food program, the disclosure of sexual exploitation by peacekeepers and the U.N.’s difficulty in remaking itself.

The budget battle prompted Secretary-General Kofi Annan to cancel a trip this month to Asia and warn that Bolton’s gambit could exacerbate the very problems it is meant to solve.

“He has an agenda, and he’s pursuing it with a conviction that is uncommon here,” said Algerian Ambassador Abdallah Baali, who sometimes clashes with Bolton in the Security Council but considers him a friend. “He’s doing it his way, which is not the way we do it at the U.N. We are used to a little more compromise.”

The President has always said he beat his alcohol problem without doing a program, but it’s always been striking how his governing style borrows from 12-step ideology. One of the things they teach family members is that all too often the people around the dysfunctional person will alter their own behavior and attitudes to avoid confrontation, thereby enabling the addict or becoming co-dependent on his addiction. In effect, the illness becomes the center of gravity around which everyone sets their own orbits. Similarly, George Bush has demonstrated time and again that if he just sticks to his guns others will adapt to him, shifting the entire political debate and system in his direction. Sending John Bolton to the UN is a perfect example of applying this theory.

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