WASHINGTON – John Bolton (search), the newly named ambassador to the United Nations, has begun to do exactly what his supporters hoped, and his critics feared he would do — he has made a concerted effort to keep the focus of the world body on reforms.
Bolton has recommended about 750 changes to a document identifying the U.N.'s objectives for reforming itself.
Click in the video box to the right to watch a report by FOX News' James Rosen (search).
The collision course began last month when Bolton met with U.N. General Assembly President Jean Ping of Gabon. Ping had spent the better part of the year perfecting a 38-page manifesto that was to serve as a model for future U.N. resolutions that pledge member states to fight hunger, poverty and terrorism.
Ping's draft was cruising toward approval by 175 world leaders at the U.N.'s World Summit scheduled for mid-September. But last week, Bolton submitted his changes and asked Ping either to hash it out line by line or adopt a simpler, two- or three-page document.
"It came at a very late hour. There are only about two weeks left before the summit is to be held in New York. So it did seem a bit disruptive to be introducing such dramatic changes at this point," said Suzanne DiMaggio of the U.N. Association of the USA, a non-profit group that supports the work of the world body.
Bolton's changes reflected Bush administration policy and his own background in arms control. Among the suggestions, the ambassador proposed deleting language that committed "developed countries to [setting aside] 0.7 percent of [their] gross national product for development assistance by no later than 2015."
Where the Ping draft spoke of "the right of self-determination of peoples which remain under colonial domination and foreign occupation," Bolton struck the last two words of the sentence.
He also inserted language on weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. The original statement makes an "appeal to all states to take action, unilaterally, bilaterally or multilaterally to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery." To that, Bolton added "and the possibility that terrorists might acquire such weapons."
Bolton's critics swiftly denounced him. The Philadelphia Inquirer said Bolton's language "makes him look more like a saboteur than an ambassador." The Los Angeles Times called his edits "a slap in the face" and "a death sentence for millions."
But FOX News has learned that many other diplomats, including Russian Ambassador Andrey Denisov and Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya, also had substantial problems with Ping's draft and are now only too happy to let the United States and Bolton take the heat for rejecting it.
The State Department on Tuesday defended Bolton's edits.
"Anytime you have a multilateral negotiation, and especially one of this size, in which you have a large number of countries interested in all of the different topics, you have to go at it hammer and tong. And that's what I think Ambassador Bolton is doing with our team up at the U.N.," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
Dozens of countries, including the United States, are now scrambling to finalize a compromise document, though diplomatic sources say almost everyone expects this effort to fail. In the end, the leaders are likely to adopt a much shorter and blander statement.