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Opening Statement of Senator Barack Obama at the Confirmation Hearing of Bolton

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  • Ram Lau
    They are having the final vote on Bolton right now (live on C-SPAN 2). The Democrats are obviously very angry. Anyway, never noticed that Pat Moynihan and
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 19, 2005
      They are having the final vote on Bolton right now (live on C-SPAN
      2). The Democrats are obviously very angry. Anyway, never noticed
      that Pat Moynihan and Henry Cabot Lodge served as the U.N.
      Ambassador. From these "most distinguished Americans" to John Bolton,
      and some are still pretentiously questioning why the world hates


      Opening Statement of Senator Barack Obama at the Confirmation Hearing
      of John Bolton
      Monday, April 11, 2005
      Opening Statement of Senator Barack Obama
      Confirmation Hearing of John Bolton
      April 11, 2005

      Mr. Chairman and Senator Biden, the position of United States
      Permanent Representative to the United Nations is one of the most
      important diplomatic positions in the entire U.S. government.

      Some of the most distinguished Americans - Democrats and Republicans
      like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, George H.W. Bush, and Henry Cabot
      Lodge - have served with honor in this position.

      Yet, there is one man from my home state of Illinois whose experience
      as Permanent Representative is quite relevant today.

      Adlai Stevenson served in this position during the Cuban Missile
      Crisis. And, as we all know, it was Stevenson's presentation to the
      U.N. Security Council that proved to the world that the Soviets were
      moving intermediate range missiles into Cuba. Using charts and photos
      to build a compelling case, Stevenson declared to Soviet Ambassador
      Zorin that he was prepared to wait "until Hell freezes over" for
      Zorin's response to the U.S. charges.

      What few people remember is that Stevenson's presentation came on the
      heels of what one might call an "intelligence failure." A year
      earlier, Stevenson had been misled by the White House and the CIA
      into publicly stating that the United States was not behind the Bay
      of Pigs invasion. Stevenson almost resigned over the incident.

      This series of events is important to keep in mind today. During the
      Cuban Missile Crisis, we were able to succeed diplomatically because
      of the stature and integrity of our Permanent Representative to the
      United Nations. In fact, President Kennedy said that, "the integrity
      and credibility of Adlai Stevenson constitute one of our greatest
      national assets."

      As a result, Adlai Stevenson was able to get tough, isolate the
      Soviets, and convince the world we were right.

      Today, we face a similar situation. With the rest of the world
      questioning our intelligence capabilities, and nuclear proliferation
      threats from Iran to North Korea that may require action by the U.N.
      Security Council, we must be able to convince the world that we are
      right. Now, more than ever, we need a credible messenger at the U.N.

      Unfortunately, I have some serious reservations about whether Mr.
      Bolton is the right man for the job:

      First, senior U.S. intelligence officials have called into question
      Mr. Bolton's credibility on statements he's made about non-
      proliferation. There are also accusations related to political
      pressure on intelligence analysts who did not agree with Mr. Bolton's
      statements. Considering that he's the top arms control official at
      the State Department, this is troubling to say the least.

      Second, Mr. Bolton's history of inflammatory statements about the
      U.N. would seem to make it more difficult for him to advance U.S.
      interests at the U.N. I am concerned about whether Mr. Bolton even
      believes the U.N. is a viable institution and a useful instrument of
      U.S. foreign policy. Saying that it wouldn't make a difference if you
      lop off ten floors of the UN building in New York isn't exactly the
      best way to earn people's respect and support - whatever the context.

      Finally, Mr. Bolton appears to have an overly confrontational history
      with several member-states on the Security Council. Like Adlai
      Stevenson, I believe there are times to be tough. But statements
      like "I don't do carrots" coming from someone who wants to be our
      chief diplomat at the U.N. certainly give me pause.

      Mr. Chairman, there is no question that we need someone in New York
      who is unafraid to shake things up and challenge the status quo. But,
      we also need someone with the credibility, temperament, and
      diplomatic skill to work with other nations, form coalitions, and
      advance U.S. interests.

      That is why I've invoked the memory of Adlai Stevenson here today: he
      was tough; he was credible; he was diplomatic. Most importantly, he
      was effective. Stevenson proved that we should not make compromises
      or trade-offs when selecting our Representative to the U.N.

      I want to give Mr. Bolton a chance to speak on these issues, and so
      my mind is not made up yet. I want to hear from him as to how he can
      be an effective and credible advocate for the U.S. I look forward to
      hearing his testimony and answers to the Committee's questions.
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