A few days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, President George W. Bush provided for the world the United States’ new stance on international relations. This new policy simply stated that a country was either an ally of the United States, or an enemy of the United States, in the new international war on terror. Most of the world rushed to the side of the United States after the terror attacks, thinking this new policy would only relate to issues dealing with the war on terror. The world would soon discover that The United States’ new “with us or against us” strategy would deal with all aspects of U.S. foreign policy.
Major strains in our international relations arose as it became more and more apparent that President Bush was planning to go to war with Iraq. Many world leaders questioned if this war had anything to do with the war on terror. Even without evidence of a direct connection between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks, President Bush continued in his push for war, and those countries that were with us were to be rewarded, and those who questioned any of our actions would be considered “irrelevant.”
After four years in office, President Bush’s record on international relations included his refusal to sign onto multiple international treaties, waging an extremely unpopular war in Iraq, and a straining of relations between the United States and many of our traditional European allies. It seemed U.S. international relations had reached an all-time low.
When his new term started, however, it seemed President Bush was ready to take U.S. foreign policy in a new direction. In February, newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Europe, stating “everyone is ready to look well beyond any disagreements that we may have had in the past to our common future.” President Bush visited Europe himself later that month, and it seemed the administration wanted to work together with the world community again to improve our much-beleaguered international reputation.
Hope for a new day in U.S. international relations has quickly come to an end, though, with the nomination of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton has a long history of viewing the U.N. with much disdain. Past statements Bolton has made about the U.N. include comments like, “It wouldn’t matter if 10 stories of the U.N.’s 38-story headquarters simply vanished.” Bolton has also been known to openly state in the past that he doesn’t believe in diplomacy for its own sake.
Last week, 59 former U.S. diplomats wrote a letter urging the Senate not to approve Bolton’s nomination. In the letter, the diplomats argue that Bolton has historically insisted “the U.N. is valuable only when it directly serves the United States.” The group of diplomats included both Democrats and Republicans, and even diplomats who served during the first Bush administration.
Bolton would bring his hard-line approach and extreme views of diplomacy with him to the U.N. By selecting a man who holds such open contempt for the U.N. as the new U.S. ambassador to it, we are showing our lack of interest in truly working with the international community. The Bolton nomination goes further, proving that the United States plans on promoting their agenda at all costs. Many in the world will see this as the United States simply having a lack of interest in all other viewpoints, even those of our allies. How can any nation in the world believe that we truly care about their opinions when we select an ambassador who believes the international community is only valuable when they do what the United States wants?
Despite these concerns, the Bush administration continues to insist that it wants Bolton for the job. Of course, who would better represent the Bush administration to the rest of the world then a man who seems to have nothing but disdain for it?
Marcus Afzali is a junior political science major.