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Ambassadors vs. Ambassador
The Unites States and the United Nations


April 9, 2005

Some fifty-nine former ambassadors and officials have signed a letter to the U.S. Senate against the nomination of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The gist of their argumentation boils down to the fact that the nominee has always been disdainful of multilateral diplomacy in general and the world organization in particular.

On Friday April 8, an editotial of the New York Times added: "When the country chooses an ambassador to the United Nations, it ought to avoid picking someone whose bulliying style of leadership symbolizes everything that created the current estrangement between the United States and most of the world.”

Curiously enough in the world at large the only other people opposed to Mr. Bolton are members of the North Korean dictatorial government who despise the Proliferation Security Initiative, Bolton is said to have helped to design and which is a multilateral initiative that, among other things, drew attention to the spread of nuclear secrets by a Pakistani scientist.

I don’t know Mr. Bolton and have not followed his career at the State Department. Moreover I don’t mind if he is or not confirmed, because this is certainly not the most important problem facing the United States and the world at the present time. The question of a radical reform of the scandal-ridden United Nations and his Secretary-general is much more urgent and significant.

But as a retired ambassador, something bothers me with the action undertaken by his 59 colleagues and the criticism uttered by a part of the medias. Indeed if one follows their line of reasoning to its very end, one would come up with the rule that diplomatic envoys should be chosen according to their sympathy in favor of the country and/or the international organization where they are supposed to represent their governments. The New York Times editorial states : "At a minimum, the United States representative to the United Nations should be a person who believes it is a good idea "

If this was the yardstick of diplomatic nominations, as a writer in the French language and a long time friend of French culture, I should have been posted in Paris and not at the United Nations in the 1970s. Following the line supported by the above-mentioned 59 distinguished American officials and their friends in the media, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt should have sent to pre-World War Berlin and to the former Soviet Union ambassadors who believed in the "good ideas" of Hitler and Stalin! Which certainly would have been an aberration!

Actually most foreign offices avoid to nominate ambassadors who are sympathetic to the governments of the countries where they are to serve on the grounds that their reports might be biased and would not reflect the reality of the political situation. Because some European countries have deviated from this practice for instance in the case of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Tehran’s theocratic regime is still in power notwithstanding the opposition of a majority of the population.

What the world organization needs in the first place especially from democratic countries is the nomination of ambassadors capable of imposing the implementation of basic reforms.

Fereydoun Hoveyda ( is a Senior Fellow at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. As a young Iranian diplomat , he was involved in the preparatory work for the San Francisco Conference that adopted the Charter of the U.N. (1945) In 1947 and 1948 he participated in the drafting and voting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. From 1952 to 1966 he became an international civil servant in UNESCO's Department of Mass Communications where he specialized in development of free flow of information in the developing countries. From 1966 to 1970 he represented Iran in the annual General Assembly sessions of the U.N , as Iranian deputy foreign minister in charge of international organizations. From 1971 to 1979 , he served as Iran's ambassador and chief delegate to the United Nations. He is the author of The Broken Crescent: The Threat of Militant Islamic Fundamentalism (2002), The Shah and the Ayatollah, Iranian Mythology and Islamic Revolution (2003) >>> See his articles in

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