WASHINGTON – Former U.S. Sen. James Sasser and two other retired American diplomats have joined a drive urging the Senate to reject John R. Bolton's (search) nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (search).
Sasser, a Democrat who was former President Bill Clinton's ambassador to China, added his name to a letter distributed Tuesday to senators on the Foreign Relations Committee.
The two other former diplomats who signed the letter, raising the total to 62, were Patricia M. Byrne, deputy U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under former President Ronald Reagan, and John L. Hirsch, ambassador to Sierra Leone in the Clinton administration.
The letter was drafted by Jonathan Dean, a senior U.S. arms control negotiator in the Carter administration, who also held diplomatic posts in Germany and Czechoslovakia.
In response, Adam Ereli, the State Department's deputy spokesman, said: "He is a great nominee. We hope he will be confirmed. And we look forward to his getting to New York to do the nation's business."
And at least two efforts were under way Wednesday to rally supporters of Bolton to call on the Senate to approve his nomination.
The letter was addressed to Sen. Richard Lugar (search), the committee chairman. The Indiana Republican has scheduled hearings on Bolton's nomination for April 7. He received it on Wednesday.
"We urge you to reject that nomination," the former diplomats wrote.
The former diplomats have served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, some for long terms and others briefly. They include Arthur A. Hartman, ambassador to France and the Soviet Union under Presidents Carter and Reagan and assistant secretary of state for European affairs under President Nixon.
Others who signed the letter include James F. Leonard, deputy ambassador to the U.N. in the Ford and Carter administrations; Princeton N. Lyman, ambassador to South Africa and Nigeria under Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton; Monteagle Stearns, ambassador to Greece and Ivory Coast in the Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations; and Spurgeon M. Keeny Jr., deputy director of the Arms Control Agency in the Carter administration.
Their criticism dwelled primarily on Bolton's stand on issues as the State Department's senior arms control official. They said he had an "exceptional record" of opposing U.S. efforts to improve national security through arms control.
But the former diplomats also chided Bolton for his "insistence that the U.N. is valuable only when it directly serves the United States."