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March 8, 2005

Bolton Nomination Another Affront to Sanity


by Jude Wanniski

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.


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Jude Wanniski, founder and chairman of Polyconomics, Inc., is a world-renowned political economist whose 1978 book The Way the World Works was named one of the 100 most influential books of the 20th Century by the editors of the National Review. He was an economic advisor to Ronald Reagan from 1978 to 1981.

Wanniski runs Wanniski.com. (If you subscribe, and check Antiwar.com in the referring website pull-down, we get 10%).

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