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May 9, 2005

John Bolton, Force of Darkness


by Jude Wanniski

Memo to: Richard Lugar, chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Re: An Anti-Diplomat at the UN?

Dear Senator, you've known me for more than 30 years, from your days as Mayor of Indianapolis and my days as associate editor of The Wall Street Journal. When I tell you John Bolton is a true force of darkness, you can be sure I do not do so lightly. "Darkness" in this sense is the absence of light, and Bolton is a protégé of Richard Perle, who has been known for decades in Washington as "The Prince of Darkness." They are both masters of misinformation, believing that their "just cause" gives them the right, even the responsibility, to make the facts and intelligence fit their personal political objectives. They're patriots and I would never say they are not. But it is not in their nature to be straight, and both men will always advise the use of force rather than bother with diplomacy. They loathe and despise the United Nations. When President Bush asked John Bolton if he has respect for the UN, Bolton said he did, but remember he is a force of darkness and will always say what he believes will advance his personal goals.

I've been watching Bolton from a distance from the earliest days of the administration, knowing of his associations with Perle and the neocons at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which I have long characterized as the HQ of what President Eisenhower called "the military-industrial complex." Here are just a few samples selected from my commentaries in the last several months of 2003, a period when the neocons believed they had Iraq under control and were eager to tackle the other members of the "Axis of Evil," Iran and North Korea.

"Judith Miller, Warhawk Reporter" July 23, 2003

Here note my comments on Judith Miller of the N.Y. Times, who we now know helped promote the disinformation spread by Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Miller co-authored a book with Laurie Mylroie, a scholar at AEI who later wrote The War Against America: Saddam Hussein and the World Trade Center Attacks. The book, now totally discredited, posited fictitious accounts of Saddam being behind 9/11. In my memo, I quote Paul Sperry of WorldNetDaily.com, who reported back then that the CIA would not back that assertion in an October 2002 report to the president:

"Mylroie lists Clare Wolfowitz, wife of the No. 2 Pentagon official, among her friends in her book's acknowledgments. She also gives a nod to John Bolton, one of the State Department's biggest Iraq hawks, and Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, whose wife also is an AEI scholar."

"Moscow Rejects U.S. Plea on Iran" Aug. 27, 2003

In this memo a month later, I referred to an article in the Tehran Times, but the heart of the comment was a long quote from Dr. Gordon Prather, the chief army scientist in the Reagan years, regarding Bolton:

"John Bolton, the State Department warhawk, is probably the unnamed Western diplomat who claims the IAEA's recent report on Iranian uranium enrichment proves Iran is seeking a nuke capability. Says Gordon Prather, who forwarded me this piece, 'Up until now, Bolton et al. have been claiming that the Iranians intend to produce weapons-grade plutonium in the Bushehr light-water power plants. The Iranians no doubt would like to acquire nukes, observing what has happened to Iraq. But the notion that Iran could produce weapons-grade Pu [plutonium] in Bushehr under the noses of the Russians and the IAEA is ridiculous. By continuing to insist that they could and would, Bolton has lost all credibility, and his usefulness in Vienna – the home of the IAEA-NPT-NSG regime – is at an end. He should resign. Or fall on his sword.'"

"Time for Colin Powell to Retire" Sept. 29, 2003

This was a memo I wrote to Colin Powell one month after the previous comment:

"You began your diplomatic service in 2001 by showing a willingness to engage Pyongyang at a time when it showed every sign of finally opening up. But that did not fit with the Pentagon's aim of tackling 'The Axis of Evil,' a term you should have never permitted to go into the president's State of the Union address. The president himself went even further with his gratuitous personal insults of North Korea's president. It has been downhill ever since. Every opportunity Pyongyang has offered for peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue has been shot down by your neocon 'minder' at State, John Bolton, who clearly works for the Defense Policy Board, not you. It has been embarrassing to hear you defend Bolton's belligerent blusterings when you should have been telling the president you want him replaced."

"The Intelligence Stovepipe to the Oval Office" Oct. 20, 2003

Do you remember Seymour Hersh's New Yorker article about how cooked-up intelligence was being "stovepiped" to President Bush, going around the intelligence community? John Bolton was of course one of the chief stove-pipers. Here is Hersh:

"A few months after George Bush took office, Greg Thielmann, an expert on disarmament with the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, or INR, was assigned to be the daily intelligence liaison to John Bolton, the undersecretary of state for arms control, who is a prominent conservative. Thielmann understood that his posting had been mandated by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who thought that every important State Department bureau should be assigned a daily intelligence officer. 'Bolton was the guy with whom I had to do business,' Thielmann said. 'We were going to provide him with all the information he was entitled to see. That's what being a professional intelligence officer is all about.' But, Thielmann told me, 'Bolton seemed to be troubled because INR was not telling him what he wanted to hear.' Thielmann soon found himself shut out of Bolton's early-morning staff meetings. 'I was intercepted at the door of his office and told, "The undersecretary doesn't need you to attend this meeting anymore."' When Thielmann protested that he was there to provide intelligence input, the aide said, 'The undersecretary wants to keep this in the family.'"

"Bush the Horse, Cheney the Rider" Oct. 23, 2003

How did Bolton get the job at State in the first place? This is from Jim Lobe, a Washington correspondent:

Not only did Cheney personally intervene to ensure that Powell's best friend, Richard Armitage, was denied the deputy defense secretary position, but he also played a key role in securing the post for Paul Wolfowitz. Moreover, it was Cheney who insisted that ultra-unilateralist John Bolton be placed in a top State Department arms position, from which he has pursued policies that run counter to Powell's own preferences."

"A Little Joke We Played on Pyongyang" Nov. 6, 2003

Bolton was working both Iran and North Korea, stove-piping around Colin Powell, who was just in his way. Here were my observations in early November 2003:

"By now, though, it is clear to Pyongyang that the warhawks in the Pentagon – and their stooge, John Bolton at State – don't want compliance and never have. They want a nice little war, or at least a regime change and another puppet government like they have arranged for Iraq. What good did it do Baghdad to persuade the IAEA that it was no threat? The boys want An American Empire! Secretary of States Colin Powell, whose heart is in the right place, has been trying to work things out with Pyongyang, but every time he makes a diplomatic move, his Undersecretary Bolton has a press conference and calls Kim Jong Il a commie rat fink. What can a poor secretary of state do when his big boss, the president, now and then has a press conference and calls Kim Jong Il a commie rate fink? The general should resign and write some new memoirs, that's what."

"Those Bad, Bad Iranians (and North Koreans)" Nov. 12, 2003

Here I defer again to Gordon Prather, an expert on the politics of nuclear weapons diplomacy, complaining as he has for years about Bolton's misinformation about Iran violating the Nonproliferation Treaty:

"As undersecretary of state, John Bolton has led the charge in denouncing Iran for violating the NPT. Dr. Prather notes: 'Bolton to the contrary, as I understand the NPT, the R&D 'dabbling' the Iranians did – but did not report – on gas-centrifuge and laser-isotopic enrichment is not – in and of itself – a violation of the NPT.' The treaty only requires that laboratory experiments which might be used for dual-use projects only be reported when they are about to go into a pilot production. The record indicates the Iranians abandoned these projects long before they got to that stage."

"To Lead, U.S. Must Avoid Paranoia" Nov.17, 2003

In mid-November I ran an op-ed by Zbigniew Brzezinski, who of course had John Bolton in mind when we warned against conducting foreign policy as if there were a wolf behind every tree. I added my comments:

"This appeared Saturday in the International Herald Tribune, on the heels of report that Israel is considering bombing the Iranian nuclear power plant being built for them by the Russians. The concentration of paranoia is at the State Department desk of John Bolton, the Perle/Wolfowitz ally, who now seems totally devoted to provoking U.S. military action against Iran, North Korea, and other countries suspected of thinking about nukes. To be successful, the effort has to be accompanied by the demonization of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which says there are no nuke programs underway in any of these places."

I've written much, much more about Bolton, Senator Lugar, and would be happy to supply you with that material and other observations about his behavior that I've not published. I know the president wants you to come through for him and bring Bolton through as our United Nations Ambassador. But do the president a real favor and allow the nomination to fail. Bolton can always get a job at AEI.


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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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