The Bush administration's international lawlessness
did not come from nowhere. Its intellectual foundations were laid long before
9/11 by neoconservative intellectuals such as United Nations Ambassador John
Bolton. Now, with his Senate renomination hanging by a thread, he should
be outed as a primary architect of the neocon nest at American Enterprise Institute.
At the United Nations, he represents the neoconservatives who stand for everything
that is hated about America – to paraphrase Winston Churchill, never have so
few made so much disaster for so many.
Way back when Bush was still cutting brush in Texas in 1999, Bolton
said, "It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international
law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so – because, over
the long term, the goal of those who think that international law really means
anything are [sic] those who want to constrict the United States."
John Bolton helped put into reality the musings of neocon founding father
Irving Kristol, who wrote in the Wall Street Journal Aug. 2, 1996, "With
the end of the Cold War, what we really need is an obvious ideology and threatening
enemy, one worthy of our mettle, one that can unite us in opposition."
Long ago, I used to joke that they were looking for enemies worthy of
American power, the Muslim world and China. Well, they have achieved half of
their goal, and China is still in their sights.
Bolton was a major propagandist for all the lies that led us into the Iraq
war. He is also a bosom buddy of the Likud
Lobby, those who have done so much to destroy goodwill for America all over
the world and make hypocrites of us when we talk of promoting democracy, human
rights, and freedom.
During his nomination fight last year, 67 former top U.S. diplomats, State
Department officials, and staffers of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
letter to Congress [.pdf] stating the reasons for their opposition to the
appointment. Of the signatories, 50 served under Republican administrations.
Bolton should not be approved by the U.S. Senate now that his (unconfirmed)
temporary appointment is expiring. His removal would tell the world that America
does care about the rule of law, that we do have "a
decent respect [for] the opinions of mankind," as our Founding Fathers
wrote in our Declaration of Independence.
The current dispute over the Geneva Conventions is a natural consequence of
Bolton's lead on international law. An assault on the U.S. Constitution itself
is not far behind: witness administration and neoconservative demands to allow
warrantless surveillance, abandon due process, gut the Fourth Amendment, and
imprison citizens without legal recourse (because
of “evidence” obtained by torture). As John Bolton might put it, It is
a big mistake for us to grant any validity to constitutional law – because,
over the long term, the goal of those who think that constitutional law really
means anything is to constrict the American empire.
Anatol Lieven of the New America Foundation
has written how incredible it is that America, which has most benefited from
the international rule of law, is bent on "kicking
to pieces the hill of which it is king," the "rule-based
liberal capitalist order." Now we have the dispute over torturing prisoners
of war and the Bush administration's undermining of the Geneva Convention. In
the past, smarter U.S. policymakers got the UN to approve and bestow "legality"
on American ventures, such as the first Gulf War (foreigners
even ended up paying most of its costs). An analogy might be that of the
richest man in town arguing that he had his own bodyguards and would no longer
be subject to the town's laws. Would he really be safer?
Listening to conservative talk radio we can hear red-state
rednecks saying that we don't need allies, foreigners can go to hell, nuke
Mecca, and America can and should do anything it wants in the world. The intellectual
foundations for such views were provided by John Bolton and his ilk.
The United Nations figures prominently in the Armageddonites'
fantasies for ending the world. For them, it
represents "evil." Many of them would agree with Venezuela's
Hugo Chávez that the devil speaks from the podium, though, of course,
they wouldn't have George Bush in mind. They hate the UN and want Bolton to
wreck it. Whether he succeeds at that or not, denying Bolton a Senate confirmation
would show the world that neocons and "cowboys" face strong resistance to their
domination over American foreign policy.