People For the American Way Foundation

UN-dermined: The Right’s Disdain for the UN and International Treaties

A Special Report by People For the American Way Foundation


People For the American Way Foundation does not take positions on foreign policy matters such as specific treaties or the role of the United Nations, and this report should not be taken as an endorsement of any particular treaty. PFAWF does monitor, analyze, and publicize the influence of right-wing organizations on U.S. policies and policymakers. Far-right leaders’ interests clearly extend beyond the nation’s borders, and this report documents their efforts to influence American foreign policy.

The influence of right-wing political groups on domestic policy is well-known, but they are equally active on issues pertaining to foreign policy and international affairs. As explained in the attached PFAW special report, whether serving as apologists for Bush administration torture policies, opposing the ratification of the Genocide Convention and International Criminal Court, undermining treaties protecting the rights of women and children, dismissing the need for environmental treaties, or seeking to shut down the United Nations, the Radical Right has had extraordinary success undermining international treaties and organizations that do not serve the Right Wing agenda.

And with the nomination of John Bolton to be US Ambassador to the United Nations, it is likely that right-wing groups will have a powerful ideological ally on whom they can rely to help them fight these battles.

Fresh off their loss during the nuclear option showdown, many on the Right have regrouped and are now pushing Bolton’s confirmation. At a time when US-UN relations have been strained by the war in Iraq, the nomination of Bolton, a blunt, career bureaucrat who has made no attempts to hide his hostility to the existence and mission of the UN, is a clear sign that the Bush administration has no intention of moderating its unilateralist stance or toning down its rhetoric.

Given Bolton’s blatant disdain for the UN and diplomacy in general, a bipartisan collection of 59 former American diplomats openly opposed Bolton’s nomination in a letter sent to Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In it, the signatories voiced their concern that “given [Bolton’s] past actions and statements, [he] cannot be an effective promoter of the U.S. national interest at the U.N.,” and went on to strongly urge senators to oppose his nomination. According to the Washington Post, even former Secretary of State Colin Powell has reportedly voiced his opposition to Bolton by “privately telling at least two key Republican lawmakers that Bolton is a smart but very problematic government official.”

Republican Senator George Voinovich, in announcing his opposition to Bolton, stated:

I believe that John Bolton would have been fired if he’d worked for a major corporation. … This is not the behavior that should be endorsed as the face of the United States to the world community and the United Nations. Rather, Mr. Chairman, it is my opinion that John Bolton is the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be.

While diplomats and senators voice their deep concerns about Bolton, the Right is singing his praise. Given their long-held contempt for the United Nations, it is not surprising that Right Wing leaders are pushing hard for his confirmation.

For instance, Concerned Women for America routinely sends delegations to monitor UN conferences and eagerly publishes commentaries by right wing activists who allege that “scandal and unethical practices riddle the United Nations, and there is evidence that it is complicit in the spread of terror.” Thus, it comes as no surprise that CWA thinks “Bolton is exactly who the U.N. needs from the United States.”

Likewise, Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation claims that “no one is better prepared [than Bolton] to represent our county before the United Nations.”Of course, Weyrich also believes “we do not need the United Nations now or in the future.”

UN-dermined: The Right’s Disdain for the UN and International Treaties documents several examples of right-wing success in undermining international treaties and organizations that do not promote its radical ideology.