Bolton argued that the Security Council already had sufficient legal authority to send foreign troops to halt atrocities in places such as the Sudanese region of Darfur. He insisted that the U.N. charter "has never been interpreted as creating a legal obligation for Security Council members to support enforcement action." He also urged the deletion of language calling on nations to prevent "incitement" of mass atrocities, saying it runs counter to the U.S. First Amendment protections of speech.
Bolton wrote that the United States "stands ready" to intervene in select cases where governments fail to halt mass killings on their soil. But he said that world leaders should not "foreclose" the military option by the United States and other governments "absent authorization by the Security Council."
The U.N. doctrine of humanitarian intervention, known as the "responsibility to protect," has been promoted by Secretary General Kofi Annan, European governments and human rights advocates, who had been pressing U.N. members to accept greater responsibility for intervening in countries where atrocities are taking place. They have also been pressing to ensure a more central role for the Security Council in authorizing military action, a position that the Bush administration has strenuously opposed.
Bolton also pressed for changes in the U.N. document that would ensure that U.S. or Israeli forces would not be exposed to terrorism charges if they killed or injured civilians during military operations. Bolton wrote that the "scope" of the terrorism provision should be limited to "terrorist actions," not "military activities that are appropriately governed by international humanitarian law." Arab governments have insisted for years that the Israeli army has engaged in "state terrorism" against Palestinian civilians.