Bolton narrowly passed the committee today, and he's likely to be confirmed unless the Democrats block it.
Part of this isn't really about Bolton, though, it's about what we think the UN is, and what we think it can become. The Democrats tend to think more idealistically on international relations. They figure that the UN is going to deliver us to a new age of peace, prosperity, and cooperation. When confronted with the problems in the UN (oil-for-food scandal, inefficiency, etcetera) they will generally acknowledge that problems exist, but that they can be fixed.
Those who support Bolton think that the UN is broken and that it's not really possible to 'fix' it in the way that liberals have proposed.
I tend to fall in with the latter camp. The UN bureaucracy can come out with all the thousand page plans it wants. It can call for each country to donate a trillion dollars, whatever. But unless they have a standing army, they're just a body with no appendages. And they're not getting a standing army.
What we need is a man that will not be taken in by idealistic ideas that the UN is part of a sacred Brotherhood of Man, and that resolutions and agreements passed there should be held sacred. We need a man that will acknowledge the true balance of power.
We need a man that won't raise a fuss when we happen to break some pottering resolution about World Awareness Day, or whatever.
I don't know if Bolton is the best man that fulfills that requirement, but he's the only one that's being put forward. The charges that he's a mean guy are irrelevant. He looks and acts like a mean guy in public life, he's probably mean in private as well. The charges that he's tried to spin intelligence are equally irrelevant, and I'll tell you why.
The only situation where such a thing would really come into play would be if he pulled a Colin Powell, and explained the 'evidence' that he had of some activity or other. Even if Bolton did do one of these, it wouldn't matter, because:
1) The US does not have any intelligence credibility with the UN community anyway.
2) Bolton is/would try to to reduce the importance of the UN. He wouldn't care nearly so much about getting the consent of Zimbabwe. Thus, there is considerably less motive to attempt to twist intelligence.
3) Bolton would not ask the UN's permission.