Introduction for John Bolton
I am delighted to present John Robert Bolton to you.
John first came to wide public attention as the lead representative for Candidate George W. Bush for the 2000 recount in Palm Beach County, when he was instrumental in winning that recount, for which Donald Rumsfeld rewarded him with the immortal nickname "Mr. Hanging Chad."
Born in Baltimore in November, 1948, John, the son of a fireman, attended Yale University on scholarship. He made Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude. Going on to Yale Law School, where he studied with Robert Bork, he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal and graduated in 1974. He moved to Washington and become an associate with a leading law firm.
A self-described "Goldwater conservative." John's government service began with Ronald Reagan, with his first two jobs in the Agency for International Development. He returned to his law firm as a partner in 1983. Two years later, he joined the Department of Justice as assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legislative Affairs; among his accomplishments was moving the nomination of Antonin Scalia through the Senate to become Supreme Court justice.
In the George H.W. Bush administration, he transferred to the Department of State, becoming assistant secretary of state for International Organization Affairs, foreshadowing his later stint as ambassador to the United Nations. As assistant secretary, he had an instrumental role in obtaining UN resolutions endorsing the use of force to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait; plus, he led the successful effort to rescind the infamous 1975 UN resolution equating Zionism with racism.
John returned to a law firm in 1993. A year later he uttered what may be is most famous quote, that "If the U.N. secretariat building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference." In 1996, I got to see him in action when he and I were on a fact-finding delegation to Egypt & Israel. In 1997, he joined the American Enterprise Institute as senior vice president. Soon after that, he promoted the idea at AEI of cooperating with the journal I had founded and then edited, the Middle East Quarterly, but that project did not come to fruition.
He joined the George W. Bush administration as undersecretary of state and, as one of the few conservatives in that building, was called "America's representative to the State Department." I had that same experience at State, by the way, in the early Reagan days, when we felt like a handful of individuals versus what we called "the building."
As undersecretary of state, he emphasized an outlook that characterized his approach over the next decade: that American security presupposes American sovereignty.
The general public most heard about John when GWB appointed him permanent representative—that is, U. S. ambassador—to the United Nations in 2005. I watched that interlude with special interest for I had gone through a similar process in 2003 when George W. Bush nominated me for a position at the U.S. Institute of Peace. An experience like this takes over one's life; exposes one to pent-up hostilities built up over a career of taking clear stances; and allows one to discern who one's true friends are.
Both of us went through roughly the same experience – not getting a majority in the Senate, receiving a recess appointment in August, and serving for 16 months, or until the next congressional session began. More importantly, both of us got whacked for standing up for what should be non-controversial and non-partisan American values.
John used his brief but memorable tenure at the U.N. unapologetically to stand up for the United States, for democratic values, and for freedom. You may recall the waves of dismay that rolled through the institution as he insistently articulated American positions at odds with the UN spirit and outlook. The building couldn't wait for 2007 and a more accommodating American ambassador.
On leaving the U.N. John returned to AEI as senior fellow and joined Fox News as a commentator. He has emerged as a prolific author on a wide range of foreign policy issues, from North Korea to European sovereign debt, and as a prominent critic of the Obama administration.
He published a book, Surrender Is Not an Option in 2007. He offers wisdom in this "lessons learned" memoir about international organizations.
He has joined former Spanish prime minister José María Aznar in the "Friends of Israel" initiative. On this topic, I should mention that he and I separately but simultaneously called for dropping the two-state solution, with a "Palestine" next to Israel in January 2009, linking us permanently in the blogosphere.
On the personal side, John is married to Gretchen and his daughter Jennifer Sarah is his pride and joy.
Looking back over a career spanning three decades, John Bolton has shown through word and deed an energy, an adhesion to principle, and a strength of character. He a theorist who understands the need for American sovereignty and for promoting American interests even as he is a practitioner active in the formulation of U.S. foreign and security policy. To adopt an often misused phrase, he speaks truth to power.
Please join me in welcoming John Bolton.