Monday, April 11, 2005

Accountability and the bull in the China shop

USA Today reports that the State Dept is trying to spend $3m on “educational institutions, humanitarian groups, non-governmental organizations and individuals inside Iran to support the advancement of democracy and human rights.” Interestingly, the US is prohibited from interfering in Iran’s internal affairs by the 1981 agreement under which Iran released the 52 hostages. The State Dept website describes this project as seeking “to raise public awareness of accountability and rule of law as an important aspect of the democratization process in Iran.” So Iranians taking money secretly from a foreign government will explain the importance of accountability? We’re like those American tourists in Europe complaining about all the tourists: we just don’t see our interventions into the politics of other countries as peculiar, alien, foreign in any way. We expect the governments of every other country to consist of four branches: the executive, the legislative, the judiciary, and the CIA.

Speaking of accountability, John Bolton was evidently questioned so harshly at his confirmation hearings that his mustache turned white.

Responding to a question about how much respect he had for the UN.

Joe Biden: “Some have said that sending you to New York would be like sending Nixon to China. I’m concerned it will be more like sending the bull into a China shop.” (Most of the news stories mutilate this bon mot by only giving the second sentence.)

Bolton explained that he didn’t really hate the UN, just the fact that it was run by all those foreigners, saying “for the UN to be effective, it requires US leadership. I deeply believe that.” So he sees his role less as ambassador, and more as King of the World.

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