Just Above Sunset
March 13, 2005 - My Favorite Diplomat, and his Shadow

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John Bolton was, last week, nominated as our new ambassador to the United Nations, and the Senate will probably confirm him. 


In Just Above Sunset back in September of 2003 he was described as one of the "new school" of Bush diplomats.  These are the "I don't care who I offend because you're all stupid anyway" school.  Yes, they did have to call John Bolton off after all his announcements that Cuba was independently developing chemical and nuclear weapons to attack the United States and had to be stopped, now.  The problem?  No proof.  The administration didn't think he ought to testify to congress   Too risky.  And the folks at the White House have stopped sending him to the Hill to testify about much of anything, as he tended to say strange things.  The North Koreans would not talk that year if he were involved.  So we kept him home – a loose canon. 


Hey, he's blunt.  No spin.  Folks like that.  It's a Fox News Bill O'Reilly thing.


From the New York Times profile Christopher Marquis did on John Bolton, September 2, 2003 


On topics from Iran and Iraq to Syria and Cuba, he has shattered diplomatic niceties and stirred anger within the ranks.


He has visited world capitals tirelessly, trying to sew together a global defense against weapons proliferators, to exempt Americans from the newly created International Criminal Court and to persuade Russia to halt its nuclear cooperation with Iran.


To his supporters, Mr. Bolton is a truth teller, a policy innovator who is liberated enough from the department's clubby confines to speak his mind, even at the risk of upsetting diplomatic strategies. He is also said to be a favorite of the president.


"Even the most forthright of us have to have a certain reserve, a certain respect, courtesy and understanding that you're dealing with politics and not theology," said Robert E. White, president of the Center for International Policy and a former ambassador to El Salvador. "The whole point of diplomacy is to gain your ends without giving offense."


Two years ago I said don't worry - John Bolton is so last week.  Not.  I mentioned him again in February 2004 -  - and again in May here when as Undersecretary of State was driving the State Department and Colin Powell nuts – visiting world capitals trying to sew together a global defense against weapons proliferators, but mainly to exempt Americans from the newly created International Criminal Court.


He’s back.


Molly Ivins, the Texas liberal from Austin, the only liberal town in Texas offers this -


I must confess, I have sadly underestimated the Bush administration's sense of humor. Appointing John Bolton ambassador to the United Nations: boffo! What a laff riot! Hilarious comedy, a delicious romp, great setup for a sit-com.


Bolton is known for being arrogant, humorless, self-righteous and confrontational, and he hates the United Nations. In other words, the perfect diplomat.


Speaking of setups, would the joke be half as good if President Bush hadn't just returned from a tour of Europe during which he assured our allies he was anxious to improve international cooperation? There, he was promising Europeans old and new that we'd turned a new page, we want nothing more than consultation, cooperation, being buddy-buddy. And then he names Bolton ambassador (oh, ha ha) to the United Nations (ha, ha, ha). Bolton keeps a bronzed grenade in his office to show how proud he is of being called a bomb-thrower.


Bolton himself has said, "I don't do carrots." Meaning he's strictly a stick guy. Intimidation, bullying, threats. The hawk's hawk, the neo-con's darling. This is a single-digit salute to the United Nations.


So what was Bush’s trip to Europe all about?  Mending fences.  Yeah, right.


Ivins mentions reactions –


… Conservative economist Jude Wanniski writes, "Does President Bush realize he is practically spitting in the faces of the global diplomatic community with his Bolton pick?" Poor Wanniski, just another guy who doesn't get the Bush sense of humor.


When W's inner frat boy comes out, we get nothing but yuks. Why do you think Bolton was named Undersecretary of State for arms control in the first place?  Because he supports arms control? Don't be silly. He opposed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and his version of trying to stop nuclear proliferation is truly arresting.


The Los Angles Times reports: "He confronts some countries with purported evidence of attempts to acquire nuclear and biological weapons, then he tries to persuade allies to support U.S. efforts to isolate them. 'John Bolton has been totally unapologetic about his radical prescription for dealing with the proliferation threat,' Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has said. 'The main problem is that it hasn't worked anywhere.'"


Bolton has maddened both North Korea and Iran, not really stable places to begin with, but moderates were gaining ground in Iran. He's the genius who claimed Fidel Castro was starting a germ weapons program, a claim promptly denied by the rest of the administration.


In 2003, Bolton was poised to testify to Congress that Syria was developing weapons of mass destruction and threatened the entire region. This assertion provoked a widely reported "revolt" by U.S. intelligence analysts, who insisted there was no evidence for such a conclusion. …


Geez!  Ivins says this administration's foreign policy reminds her of watching someone trying to play chess without being able to think more than one move ahead.  Or was it planned as an in-your-face single-digit salute to the world?  Who knows?


Well, the Senate confirmation hearing will get underway soon, and Phyllis Bennis over at Institute for Policy Studies has this -


Ten Questions the Senate Should Ask John Bolton at his Confirmation Hearing, But Probably Won't


1. In 1994 you said "There is no United Nations." Do you still believe that the international community, and the world's premiere multilateral organization, are illusions?

2. You also said "When the United States leads, the United Nations will follow. When it suits our interest to do so, we will do so. When it does not suit our interests we will not." Do you still believe that the U.S. should approach the United Nations only in a tactical way, treating it as a tool of U.S. foreign policy?

3. Do you think that the United Nations represents a threat to U.S. sovereignty, and therefore do you think we should simply stop paying dues to the UN?

4. The United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, both of which the U.S. has signed and ratified, form the cornerstones of international law. Do you believe the U.S. would be better off if it "unsigned" those two treaties?

5. While you were heading the Bush administration's arms control efforts, you fought for the U.S. to withdraw from the ABM treaty. Do you believe that because the U.S. military is so dramatically more powerful than that of any other country or group of countries in the world, that it's easier if we simply dictate to other nations what weapons they can or can't have rather than worrying about complicated multi-lateral agreements?

6. The U.S. was one of the original drafters of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Do you think we have any obligation to fulfill the terms of that treaty regarding the rights of nuclear weapons states, or is it really something that only the non-nuclear signatories are accountable to?

7. Do you think the U.S. should ever sign on to any treaty that holds us accountable to the same limits (of arms, nukes, etc.) as other countries around the world? Do you think we should refuse to sign on to a strengthened global treaty on bio-weapons, for instance, if it required the U.S. to allow the same kind of international inspections that we require of other countries?

8. Was "unsigning" the Rome Treaty creating the International Criminal Court the "happiest moment" of your government service? What other treaties do you think the U.S. should "unsign"?

9. Despite claims to the contrary by numerous intelligence and military officials, do you still think Cuba is producing biological weapons?

10. Former Senator Jesse Helms described you as ''the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon …[at] the final battle between good and evil in this world." Do you see your role at the United Nations as fighting that same battle between good and evil?


Good questions – the kind you don’t ask.


Anyway, the Associated Press gives his bio here - one more Yale guy like Bush, albeit with better grades, and a degree from Yale Law.  They don’t mention he started his political career working for Jesse Helms, and Helms alarmed me back in the early seventies when he was just the commentator on Channel 5 in Raleigh, North Carolina, long before he was a senator.  My wife and friends would be slack-jawed at his rants about the UN and nasty godless foreigners and dropping the big one now - then Helms became a US Senator and took away my Cuban cigars (the Helms-Burton Act), and now his disciple will speak to the world for us.  Yipes.


But he will be confirmed.  We know who is in power now.




Note this quote -


"Moreover, many Republicans in Congress - and perhaps a majority - not only do not care about losing the General Assembly vote but actually see it as a "make my day" outcome.  Indeed, once the vote is lost, and the adverse consequences predicted by the U.N.'s supporters begin to occur, this will simply provide further evidence to many why nothing more should be paid to the U.N. system." - Washington Times, 10/24/98.


And at a 1994 panel discussion sponsored by the World Federalist Association Bolton claimed "there's no such thing as the United Nations," and stated ''if the UN secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.''


This is an interesting choice to be our man there.  Who needs allies and cooperation?


By wait!  There is an even more recent move afoot to work on bettering our relations with other nations.


Bush to Nominate Hughes for State Post

Bush to Nominate Longtime Adviser Karen Hughes for Key State Dept. Post to Help Repair U.S. Image

Anne Gearan - The Associated Press


Mar. 12, 2005 - President Bush will nominate one of his closest longtime advisers to a key State Department post in an effort to help repair the United States' image abroad, especially in the Arab world, a senior administration official said Saturday.


The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the announcement that Bush has selected Karen Hughes to be undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs will be made early next week, possibly as early as Monday. The position requires Senate confirmation.


The official said that Hughes, 48, will spearhead the administration's campaign to promote democracy in the Middle East.


… She has little experience in foreign affairs but enjoys the confidence of the president and is close to the new secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.


… As undersecretary, Hughes' main responsibility will be to repair the image of the United States which was badly tarnished abroad by anger over the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq and overthrow its government.


She will be responsible for improving U.S. diplomats' face-to-face contact overseas and will oversee an array of programs, such as radio broadcasts that place American ideas and news before foreign audiences.


The post has been vacant since last summer.


This and the Bolton nomination will sure keep the rest of the world off balance.  This seems to be some sort of good-cop bad-cop thing.


Vince, who teaches marketing to MBA students in upstate New York comments –


So to Bolton's new role... we now also bring back Karen Hughes (from her mommy sabbatical in Texas - kids must have been weaned already?) - the author of every word that emerged through W's earpiece during the election debates (my supposition, sorry, my bad!) as Under Secretary of State for public diplomacy and public affairs.  To do what?   Check this out - improve our overseas image and ensure that world opinion embrace the policies of GWB!


She's appointed with acknowledgment that her predecessors (most recently a "statesman" from Madison Avenue) somehow failed their duty to W!  Gosh...


So what?  She'll now control wireless earpiece technology to the UN as well?   How DO you reconcile this administration?


Watch in coming months for a new definition of SPIN, spin beyond spin, as if it never existed before our times...


There seems no point in trying to make sense of this all.  Is it a good-cop bad-cop thing, or just that these folks have no clue?  It doesn’t matter.  It just is.


Maybe we won’t be hated around the world for the next three years.  Now no one will understand where we stand.  Ah, keep ‘em guessing.


Well, I guess that is a plan.







Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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