Is “Multilateralism” the Next “Liberalism”?
The Financial Times captures a very interesting political approach to John Bolton’s UN nomination. Apparently, Republicans want to highlight Democratic willingness to “sign over security to the international community”:
A senior administration official acknowledged this week that Mr Bolton’s nomination had a subtle but beneficial unintended consequence. The coming debate could paint the Democratic party as multilateralist — a word that may describe an admirable ideology, much like liberalism, but which carries negative connotations in US politics.
When asked whether the argument over Mr Bolton threatens to make the Democrats appear aligned with the French and Germans, the official responded: Ã¢€œWorse. They look like Canadians.Ã¢€
I’d tread carefully if I were the administration. For one thing, while the public may currently have many questions about the UN, especially as the Oil-for-Food scandal continues to be investigated, such sentiments don’t necessarily translate to the kind of broad UN skepticism that Bolton represents. For another, multilateralism is a bit more complicated than liberalism is. With the latter, you can conjure up a variety of blue-state cultural stereotypes then fairly easily hammer a politician like John Kerry. The former, by contrast, is comparatively harder to relate to.
In general, the UN ambassadorship is just a pretty arcane position. To pull off their strategy, the administration will have to invest time and resources into the issue, and these investments could carry significant political risks. So Republicans should think hard about whether they might be overstepping.