As I was driving back to the office at midday
today, I heard a news report that President Bush had nominated John Bolton to
be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. My heart skipped a beat, and I
could feel my blood pressure climb through the roof. John Bolton. Ugh. This
is the bottom of the barrel. It's almost impossible to imagine the president
nominating anyone worse than Bolton, a certified bully who has single-handedly
done more to poison our relations with China, North Korea, and Iran than any
other bureaucrat in the Bush administration. He is one of Richard Perle's principle
henchmen in the neocon cabal to conquer the world with U.S. military might.
He is a master of disinformation, by which I mean he knows how to use falsehoods
and deceit to promote the objectives of his masters in the cabal.
Only a few weeks back, for goodness sakes, I had celebrated when Bolton lost
his bid to become deputy secretary of state to Condi Rice. Instead, she chose
Robert Zoellick, the U.S. trade representative the last four years, a certified
diplomat who really believes in diplomacy. At the NATO workshop I attended in
Lisbon over this last weekend, I cited Bolton's decline and Zoellick's elevation
as a sign that the neocons had been set back and we might be able to expect
a more reasonable foreign policy emanating from Washington in the second Bush
administration. I could see smiles all around and heads nodding in agreement
from the four dozen people around the table – most of them from the countries
on the Mediterranean whose people had opposed the war in Iraq. They were encouraged
by the Zoellick selection, and I imagine their blood pressure is now on the
rise over Bolton.
I now wonder, does President Bush realize he is practically spitting in the
faces of the global diplomatic community with his Bolton pick? Did anyone mention
to him that when Bolton was picked in 2001 to be undersecretary of state for
arms control and international security, he was confirmed in the Senate by a
57-to-43 vote. All 43 nays came from Democrats who had observed his bullyboy
tactics in his previous posts in GOP administrations, at Justice as well as
at State. Given Bolton's record at State, this almost guarantees he will get
no Democratic votes to confirm him. Perhaps even a few Republican senators –
those who are getting just a little bit tired of Perle, Wolfowitz, and their
imperial blueprint for the USA – may vote "nay" as well.
We should have seen it coming when Bolton was permitted to remain at his State
post after he lost the neocon campaign to get him the job as Condi's minder.
When there was a report he was going to return to private life and he didn't,
it should have been clear that the cabal, chiefly housed in the vice president's
office, was looking for a good spot for him. What a delicious idea, they must
have thought, to send him to the United Nations, which he has written about
with great disdain over the years. In recent weeks, Bolton pulled out every
stop to try to block Mohammed ElBaradei from getting a third term as head of
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Why? Because ElBaradei had refused
to play ball with the neocons in their scheme to persuade the White House that
Iran should be dealt with harshly for having nuclear weapons programs. Bolton
spread the word that maybe even Israel should bomb Iran the way it bombed Iraq's
nuclear power plant in 1981. As I told the NATO workshop, ElBaradei is the probably
the most respected official of the world's international agencies, the most
honest and effective, which is why the neocons wanted him out. Bolton thought
he could buy off the votes he needed to drive a stake through ElBaradei's heart,
but a survey of the IAEA board showed he could only get one or two votes of
the 35 he needed, the U.S. being one of them.
In the Clinton years, Bolton cooled his heels at the American Enterprise Institute
in Washington, D.C., AEI being the think-tank
of the military-industrial complex and the hangout of Richard Perle. I know,
because I hung out at AEI during the Cold War, and I know how it all
works. AEI would have vanished a long time ago, I believe, if it were not for
the generosity of major corporations – those that make things to blow up other
parts of the world or those who rebuild them after they have been leveled, all
with taxpayer dollars.
When President Bush chose Colin Powell to be secretary of state in 2001, the
neocons who control the veep made it a condition that Bolton be given the #3
post at State, the "arms control" post. An arms-control chief at Foggy Bottom
would normally be expected to support all efforts to support the Nonproliferation
Treaty (NPT) to contain the spread of nuclear weapons. Not Bolton. If diplomacy
would have worked to keep North Korea and Iran from threatening the U.S. with
nukes, what would there be for the warriors to do? So Bolton's instructions
were to irritate Pyongyang and Tehran, both signatories to the NPT, so they
would become mean and ugly.
If you look back to the early days of the Bush administration, before 9/11,
you will find Colin Powell talking nicely about our relations with North Korea
and the prospects for diplomacy in the region. The same was true with Iran,
with moderates coming into the Tehran government and sounding like they were
ready to come to peaceful terms. It was at that point the neocons dished up
the "Axis of Evil," an in-your-face aggressiveness that made it clear our president
was going to kick butts, and that Colin Powell was going to go along for the
ride. We now know that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction,
and France and Germany and China and Russia were correct in opposing the use
of force to overthrow Saddam. Diplomacy worked and the rest of the world could
see it. But war it was anyway, with the neocons saying we don't need the United
Nations or the IAEA, and maybe they should be dissolved. The United States of
America has enough muscle to rule the world without worrying about backtalk
from anyone. Is it any wonder that North Korea and Iran wish they had nukes,
to prevent what happened to Iraq from happening to them?
At the Lisbon conference over the weekend, the paper I presented was one I wrote
in 1995, which was never published because it was commissioned by my old neocon
pals because they loved the title, "An American Empire." It was supposed to
run in an early edition of Rupert Murdoch's new political magazine, The Weekly
Standard, but the editors of the magazine were horrified at the essay I
submitted. It came down to the idea that in a world at war, force should be
backed by the opportunity for diplomacy, but in a world at peace, should trouble
arise, diplomacy should be backed by the threat of force. There is not much
business there for a military-industrial complex, so Bill Kristol, who had commissioned
the piece, had his secretary call to say they could not use it. It is available
in three parts on my Web site, and reads as if it were written just yesterday,
but here is the one early paragraph I read to the workshop:
"These trial-and-error strivings for perfection continue today around
the planet, but for the moment the United States alone dominates the entire
world's experimentation in organization. Without exception, every nation-state
looks up to the United States as the undisputed leader in history's long march.
Each wishes to know what we have in mind. How shall we proceed to organize ourselves
in this new American empire? What is the nature of the new world order that
accompanies the first singular leader in all of history? How shall we go about
determining the limitations on our powers and the extent of our responsibilities?
The questions are different than any we have ever encountered, requiring that
our people think about the world differently than we ever have before. There
is no historic guidebook to help us at this frontier of boundless opportunity.
All the rules have been written for a world of adversarial divisions. This means
we must think through with extraordinary care the steps we take and the paths
we choose. Major missteps can only mean we will lose this preeminence and find
new power pyramids forming to challenge our leadership. To avoid that possible
occurrence, we might first do well to think through where we have been."
I'd hoped the Democrats might get into the act and put in a word now and then
for diplomacy, and I did cast my vote for Senator John Kerry in his presidential
bid, as weak as he was on these issues. My optimism about the future is now
being sorely tested, though, with the Bolton nomination so dreadful that I'm
afraid after all these years I am in danger of becoming a professional pessimist.