Given the deplorable moral condition of the United Nations over the past dozen years, I have longed for the arrival of an American representative of the quality of Daniel Patrick Moynihan or Jeane Kirkpatrick. Admittedly, a Moynihan or a Kirkpatrick are rare finds, but surely some stentorian voice could be found to abuse the U.N. with a recitation of democratic values. Now President Bush has found one in nominating the State Department's John Bolton to serve where Moynihan and Ms. Kirkpatrick served so memorably.
How fine a choice is Mr. Bolton? Well, consider this response from Senator Kerry: "This is just about the most inexplicable appointment the president could make to represent the United States to the world community."
As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, our Francophile friend will be reviewing Mr. Bolton's nomination. For his appearance before Mr. Kerry's committee, I suggest Bolton bring along a copy of Michelin's "Guide Rouge." Get the senator off on a discussion of his favorite Parisian restaurants. Ask him how he likes his canard. In fact, congratulate him on his canard. Inquire as to why the French can never get the vichyssoise to the table while it is still warm. The senator is easily distracted.
This bosh about the "world community" is a favorite refuge from reality for him and his liberal friends. The reality is that his "world community" has sat back and allowed barbarism to endure in hellholes such as Rwanda and the Sudan. It has allowed rogue nations to acquire weapons of mass destruction and to pose a threat to world peace out of all proportion to each nation's strength and importance.
When Moynihan and Ms. Kirkpatrick defended democratic values at the U.N., they were facing both a military threat (the Soviet Bloc) and an ideological threat (Marxist Leninism) that threatened the very existence of Western Civilization. The threat of today's rogue states is the threat of a homicidal nuisance. They can disrupt civilization but have no alternative to it. That is why it is so absurd to allow them to continue as threats.
Mr. Bolton has referred to North Korea as "a hellish nightmare" governed by a "tyrannical dictator." Ah, the lilt and substance of Moynihan and Ms. Kirkpatrick is about to be restored to the Security Council and the General Assembly. On another occasion, Mr. Bolton wrote that if the glass zoo on the East River that is the U.N. headquarters "lost ten stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference." I look forward to more of this kind of eloquence.
Certainly, the moral condition of the U.N. is not likely to improve soon. In the 1970s and 1980s, when Moynihan and Ms. Kirkpatrick represented us, the threat to America was mostly ideological and a matter of power politics. The U.N. did, of course, allow Zionism to be equated with racism. It did see a moral equivalence between the West and the Soviets. But the moral quality of the U.N. has actually gotten worse in the absence of the Soviets.
Its peacekeepers now are guilty of rape and rampage in Africa. Even its bureaucrats have been caught in sexual harassment, to say nothing of graft. The oil-for-food scandal is probably the largest instance of corruption ever recorded. And the anti-Semitism at the U.N. is even more rampant.
Recall, if you will, the 2001 Durban meeting on international racism that seethed with anti-Semitism. Finally, there is the absurdity of the U.N.'s Human Rights Commission, where such nations as Cuba and Zimbabwe pass on the alleged human rights abuses of Americans.
Mr. Bolton will cut through this corruption, at least with oratory if not with policy. While at the State Department, Mr. Bolton has fashioned some memorable policy, perhaps the most useful being the Proliferation Security Initiative. At the U.N., it is hard to see what sort of policies Mr. Bolton can get the body to adopt. Its corruption is so extensive and America is but one member against the mob. But Mr. Bolton can sober up the assembled popinjays by pointing out each U.N. failure.
The fact is that the U.N. is no longer of any value in maintaining the peaceful intercourse of nations. Possibly Mr. Bolton will fulfill the historic role of becoming America's last ambassador to the U.N. No gravy train lasts forever.
Mr. Tyrrell is the founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator, a contributing editor to The New York Sun, and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute.