Democracy, Peace ignored in nominations

Weak efforts towards diplomacy

By Ben Turner
April 22, 2005

At the beginning of the week it seemed that another of President Bush's controversial nominations, John Bolton, would be confirmed. Unexpectedly, the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee put the Bolton's confirmation as ambassador to the United Nations on hold in order to investigate allegations of misconduct. Apparently Bolton regularly mistreated his employees -- threatening and chasing one female employee through the halls of a hotel. Republicans on the committee have been convinced Bolton may not possess the temperament for such an important position.

The inappropriateness of Bolton's nomination for ambassador extends beyond his short fuse. For the last four years Bolton has worked to eliminate decades-old nuclear non-proliferation treaties. How can such a war-hawk realistically be nominated to the United Nations, an organization devoted to maintaining international peace? His candidacy is a slap in the face to the world community as his agenda is contrary to the organization's stated goals.

The slap continues when we consider the fact that Bolton has been extremely vocal in criticizing the United Nations, stating that most of its operations are plagued by unnecessary bureaucracy. The Bush administration and other Bolton supporters have said that his critical stance makes him the perfect candidate, as he will spur necessary reforms and promote greater efficiency. It seems more likely that he will cut programs rather than improve them. One of his favorite adjectives for describing the U.N. is "irrelevant."

His anti-U.N. stance also sends a negative message to the international community. Many countries seen the U.S. as a self-absorbed, unilateralist bully, and Bolton personifies this image. He is described as being unreasonable in the workplace. His policies and rhetoric are aggressive and arrogant. Part of an ambassador's job is to be diplomatic, and nothing about this man is diplomatic.

As hard as it is to believe, another of President Bush's nominations is even more perversely undiplomatic -- the new director of national intelligence, John Negroponte. His job is to oversee our intelligence organizations: the CIA, NSA, FBI, as well as branches of military intelligence. The problem with Negroponte is that during the 1980s he was heavily involved in the funding of the Nicaraguan Contras, organizations which fragrantly violated human rights.

According to Human Rights Watch, " the contras were major and systematic violators ... launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians, selectively murdering non-combatants, and mistreating prisoners." He supervised the creation of the notorious El Aguacate base, where American soldiers trained the Contras on how to torture and kill. In 2001 an excavation found 185 skeletons at the site of the base.

Negroponte was also a strong supporter of the Honduran government during his tenure as Ambassador to Honduras, promoting programs to assist the military in fighting "subversives." Early in his term the CIA went to Honduras to train the military. Throughout Negroponte's term, the Honduran government killed hundreds of non-combatants and torturing even greater numbers, using methods ranging from vicious beatings, electric shocks, to rape. Negroponte remained a strong supporter of the Honduran government, maintaining that the military was innocent of all such charges despite several reports to the contrary.

The world has seen what this man believes on how intelligence should be gathered and how policies should be implemented. They cannot be appreciative of the fact that he now is the director of U.S. intelligence. Human rights organizations from various countries have protested against the appointment and petitioned for a change. While the United States remains under fire for human rights abuses at Abu Gharib and Guantanamo Bay, the president appointed this brazen supporter of torture. This appointment is an indicator of President Bush's conception of diplomacy.

It is hard to believe that the president believes that either of these two men, Negroponte or Bolton, can do anything but foster greater international animosity. Bush is nominating two men who can only be described as wrong for each respective job. At some point President Bush needs to learn that in the world of diplomacy as well as morality, two wrongs do not make a right.

Ben Turner is a Tulane College sophomore. He can be reached for comment at

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Updated 04/24/05