May 26, 2005

B.D. Endorses Bolton

Prak links to Larry Johnson:

The nomination of John Bolton as Ambassador to the UN is another body blow to the intelligence community and sends a clear message to analysts that speaking up about political pressure will only damage your career.

Hyperbole. The nomination of John Bolton as Deputy Secretary of State would, arguably, have been a "body blow to the intelligence community." His nomination to be our Ambassador to the U.N. is not. Everyone who matters in Washington knows what job Bolton really wanted. That's the one Robert Zoellick currently occupies. The reason he is going to be at Turtle Bay rather than the 7th Floor is because of his alleged insubordination, his aggressive reading of intelligence, his occasional undiplomatic behavior. He's being punished, in other words, to a fashion. Add to this that he won't be in a position to adopt his preferred reading of the intel at Turtle Bay (he will present to the world community the intel he is told to present by Washington), that he is bright, that he is the President's nominee and that the President should get deference in his personnel selections (particularly in foreign policy) barring manifest showstoppers (I've read TWN pretty regularly; and haven't see one yet), that he can do a "Nixon goes to China" at the world body (one in dire need of straight talk and reformist action)--given all this I think the pendelum of opinion is swinging towards Bolton among mainstream, internationalist Republicans. Yes, John Whitehead and some Manhattan Old Guard types are discomforted. But Bolton has gotten support from quite a few moderate quarters (see Eagleburger, Jim Baker, among others). Yes, I might have preferred other picks. Yes, I had a Voinovich moment. On April 24th, I wrote:

Bottom line: At this stage, weighing all the considerations as judiciously as I can, I'd probably still lean supportive of Bolton all things considered. But if a more pervasive pattern emerges in the next couple of weeks of more Category 4 abuse of sober, justifiable dissent on intelligence related matters (especially where the analysts, and not Bolton, were ultimately right)--I might start leaning in the "no" direction. Why am I still leaning Bolton? I do think a President should get much deference on picking his national security team. I think tactically it might be good for moderate Republicans to let him get the job. I think he's smart and could be a helpful voice in term of U.N. reform and assorted reality checks the world body needs. And I think he will be relatively contained within the confines of Turtle Bay.

Let's not, in all of this either, lose site of the big picture. The U.N. is going through something of a time of troubles--and frank talk and action is required, big time. Still, like Chafee, Voinovich, Murkowski, Hagel (and non-committee Republicans like Specter) I am, shall we say, concerned. I want to know more. The challenge will be to be fair to Bolton and wade through the information over the coming weeks with sobriety and judiciousness.

I've waited, I've tried to be judicious as I can, I've weighed the evidence. I've seen the Bolton brouhaha get increasingly shrill, partisan and nasty. I've seen dark, sleazy, inappropriate intimations about his personal life. I've seen a few more tales of aggressive handling of intel here and there. Yes, Armitage had to contain him robustly. He was a Cheney mole at State. But that's not an issue anymore. It's moot, really. In all this, I've seen no disqualifying smoking gun. Would I support this man for Deputy Secretary of State? No, I wouldn't. Do I think he may make a decent UN Ambassador? Yes, I do. Therefore, for what it's worth, count B.D. as a Bolton supporter as the vote nears.

Posted by Gregory at May 26, 2005 04:41 AM | TrackBack (6)

you don't see because you are blind. Jesus, what does Bolton have to do? Rape Mother Teresa?

Posted by: Larry Johnson at May 26, 2005 05:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bolton is the best choice. It's all about nuclear proliferation, the top issue for an adminisration conerned about terrorists using nukes. See:

Posted by: pat at May 26, 2005 05:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Larry Johnson needs to get a grip. Based on his first reaction to your very measured and qualified support for Bolton as Ambassador to the UN position, I'd say he was unhinged.

The accounts I've read more likely suggest a very reasonable management reaction to career Cuban analysts, albeit handled perhaps without as much "sensitivity" as these pampered egos might require, than "pressure" to cook analysis.

I think some at State think anything apart from complete acquiesence to the analytic desks constitutes "pressure."

This reminds me of the furor behind an administration request that agencies find any links between Saddam and 9/11. (Like it created "pressure" with the reasonable posing of the question itself. I suppose so, if you measure your entire self worth in pleasing your superiors. Then again, maybe that's it!)

We've seen a great deal of this kind of behind the scenes, petty and bureaucratic posturing at State under former Sec. Powell. I would think a sober assessment would by definition weigh any of these kinds of accusations -- years later -- with more than a grain of salt. And Johnson wants to call them just short of raping Mother Teresa? Please.

Does Johnson not realize what a hopeless mess the UN has become? How irrelevant? How incapable of affecting world security or stability in any positive way? How badly managed and corrupt its core operations?

We need to throw a few diplomatic grenades at Turtle Bay. You think Bolton is undiplomatic? That may be the strongest argument for placing him there.

The U.S. should want the Ambassador to the UN to clearly and forcefully present US Foreign Policy as set by the President -- not as suggested by Congress, not as preferred by the slighted sycophants of Foggy Bottom.

Posted by: Dadmanly at May 26, 2005 10:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg, you have shown a great deal of discernment and intelligence in your analyses of the challenges faced by the US on the foreign policy front. Do you really believe that Bolton will contribute in a positive fashion to dealing with those challenges?

IMHO, no one who cares about the US position in the world, and the success of its foreign policy, could support Bolton.

Simply put, the evidence shows that he cannot be trusted to communicate American policy to the international community without inserting his own profound biases, nor can he communicate the nuanced position of other nations to his superiors appropriately. Bolton is like the character in Paul Simon's "The Boxer" -- the man who "hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest."

Bolton's presence will likely result in serious problems for the State Department in its pursuit of better relations with the international community. Rather than concentrating on improving relations, State Department officials will constantly be tasked with putting out brush-fires caused by Bolton, and constantly issuing "clarifications" to other foreign governments designed to assure them that what Bolton had to say to a UN diplomat does not accurately reflect US policy.

Bolton's record of failure is extraordinary --- Bolton was placed in charge of "non-proliferation" of WMDs, and during his tenure the world has become far more "WMD - friendly" with at least two nations actively pursuing new nuclear weapons, and who knows how many others considering it. And Bolton simply ignored his job when it came to preparing the US for the most recent round of talks on the NPT.

The bottom line on Bolton is that only someone who wanted to sabotage the State Department (and our stated foreign policies) could support Bolton. (And in this sense, his role as a "Cheney mole" is not irrelevant --- his position at the UN will enable him to sabotage an even wider range of State Department initiatives than he did in his former post.) There is nothing in Bolton's character that suggests that he will view his confirmation as anything other encouragement to continue to thrown roadblocks in the path of better relations with the international community -- nothing that suggests that Bolton will be chastened by the criticism he has received, and change his approach.

Is this really what you want, Grag?

Posted by: p.lukasiak at May 26, 2005 12:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bolton is the best choice. It's all about nuclear proliferation, the top issue for an adminisration conerned about terrorists using nukes.

Bolton is the absolutely worst choice, if that is the issue. He was tasked at preventing proliferation in his State Department job --- and now we have two crises on our hands with North Korea and Iran. Bolton completely failed to do his job to prepare a US position in the latest round of NPT talks. Bolton was instrumental in slowing efforts to secure the vast inventories of nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union. And in the only "success" on non-proliferation (Libya) Bolton was shut out of the negotiations because of his consistent efforts to stop any progress from being made.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at May 26, 2005 12:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'll say this again - are there really SO FEW qualified Republicans that Bush has to rely on Bolton?

Couldn't be!

Posted by: Mark-NC at May 26, 2005 12:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The United Nations is a craven as it is corrupt. At this point in its history, therefore, sending in Bolton is akin to tossing pearls before swine. Kudos to B.D. for his endorsement.

As to North Korea and Iran, lukasiak should know that Bolton himself could not affect North Korean or Iranian plutonium purchases. Those decisions were made back in the 1990's. To assume that Kim and the Ayatollahs decided, out of fear of Bushitler, to proceed to build a bomb, shows an extraordinary display of ignorance-especially of the time it takes to put together a coherent weapons program. Both nations made the decision to build nuclear weapons at least as far back as the early 1990's, after watching how quickly we dispatched the Iraqi Army in the first Gulf War.

To think otherwise is foolishness; they're merely following the path of what they believe to be regime-survival. But for God's sake, there are always those who will blame everything on Bushhitler, Condi Rice, and some poor schmuck with a walrus moustache.

Jesus wept. He did. It's in the Bible.

Posted by: Section9 at May 26, 2005 01:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One final point, Greg. You expressed concern about our effectiveness in getting our message of "freedom and democracy" to be taken seriously. Bolton personifies the reason why so few people in the international community take "democratization" rhetoric seriously --- the fact that the Bush regime says one thing, but does another.

I mean, there is a lot of rhetoric coming out of the Bush regime about improving relations with the rest of the world, but that rhetoric is contradicted by the appointment of a unilateralist like Bolton to serve as our ambassador to the international community as a whole.

Do you really want to hand America's enemies another propaganda coup?

Posted by: p.lukasiak at May 26, 2005 01:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Why would you want to send someone to the UN who had to be supervised and was already pre-neutered by Condi, who has appointed her own UN reform point person? Seems like symbolic wanking to me. And if Bolton gets up and presents any intel on Iran or North Korea, you can bet there will be second-guessing.

I suppose it'll make George Allen feel good, though.

Posted by: praktike at May 26, 2005 01:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Does anybody see a pattern here? - The administartion spends it's first 4 years identifying the 'skunks in the cupboard', people who actively undermine & sabotage amrican policy. Colin Powell & Armitage being some of the worst. Judging from public information they came close to - if not past - treason in their dealings on our behalf with inter alia the UN, France & Germany. We now see both the cleaning out of the augian stable, that thinks it should run foreign policy in lieu of the 'unsofisticated morons' in the White House - and the necessary proactive dealing with a war, that will not wait. Bolton would be very good as ass. secr. of state, but given the availability of Zoellic and the UN mess, it is a no brainer to send Bolton to the UN. While I doubt any of the poker players in the WH will ever even hint at it, do not for even a minute believe that this administration's actions are not tightly coordinated between it's central players, of which john Bolton is one.

The problem pundits have with analyzing Bush43 is primarily that he is an adult, playing by adult rules and without much need for fawning admiration when there are real challenges out there and real work to be done. It is clear, that this administration is concentrating on leaving a functioning and reasonable safe country for their children & grandchildren. To get there the world has to be made less unsafe, so that's what they are doing. They know their history and have learned from it. In this, Mr. Bolton has taken on the role of 'designated bull in the chinashop'; he knows it, Ms. Rice knows it & Mr. Bush designed it so. This is one variant of 'good cop - bad cop' and will work as long as the east coast & european 'sofisticates' swallow it. Being metaphysically convinced of their own superiority, they do.

My only hope is that this very high stakes game succeeds, if it does not we will have a much longer and infinitively more bloody international war. All brought on by people, who in their unwillingness to do the difficult thing now, have brought on the hard near future choices.

The ticking time-bomb that is Europe will be defused, the question is only whether it will be before or after it has exploded. The recent comments of the Danish Queen were both imely and sage. They need to be contemplated while there still is some (short ) time.

My only & biggest source of some optimism is that the shift from 'blue staters' to 'red staters' here in the US points to the fortunate & recurring american tendency towards dealing with threats before they can kill all of us.

I thank God, that while not perfect, some adults are in charge.

Posted by: Hejde at May 26, 2005 02:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wow can I have some of that Kool Aid Hejde? Colin Powll and Richard Armitage commited treason?? Bolton's going to reform the UN and defuse the "ticking time-bomb" of Europe? How exactly is he going to do this? Threaten to pull the lease? Throw Britain and France off the Security Council?

Bolton was right in one regard, in that the UN relies on US and other nations' powers to carry out any agenda. And in issues such as arms control, food relief, child safety, and peacekeeping, they've done a pretty damn good job with constraints. So what's Bolton's agenda? He's just going to go in and argue with the other nations on every issue that he doesn't see as contributing to the US agenda? Yeah, that's going to work.

The man lied about his conduct in State. The man tried to get honest analysts fired. The man distorted the US policy position on WMDs to verbally attack nations not admired by the US govt. He's inappropriately used NSA intercepts to get information on US citizens. Yet you all seem to admire this fool and want to reward him, even though he won't be that effective with Condi's promise to keep a leash on him. He's a scumbag, a bully, and a fool, and there are more than a few other Repub statesmen and women that would be better qualified.

Let him get confirmed. I hope Biden and the Dems drop a perjury charge on him for his conduct before the SFLC.

Posted by: J. at May 26, 2005 05:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't understand why Bolton's personality is an bonus for the reform of the UN? I mean, on one hand Greg claims that he's neutered and will only do the administration's bidding at the U.N . On the other hand, Greg says that the UN needs reform and "frank talk and action are required." Why does Bolton help that cause? Even moreso that

In other words, he's using frank talk and action only if the administration says to do it. By that logic, any halfway competent idiot could do this job, right?

Which brings me to my main issue. The misuse of intelligence seems to be treated as a slap-on-the-wrist type of mistake in this administration. In the case of a career foreign service guy, isn't it closer to incompetence? I mean, if you repeatedly abuse your intelligence support (both the people and the actual intelligence), isn't that a sign that you don't get the weight and responsibility of your job?

If we're in a true global struggle with Jihadism, I don't want this guy anywhere where he can talk to the President or key advisors. That's just me, of course...

Forgive me for a poor analogy, but in pro sports, where winners and losers are clearer, a manager or coach or player even who took a scouting report and decided to misread it repeatedly would get fired. Being wrong has consequences... I guess it doesn't in foreign policy.

Posted by: just me at May 26, 2005 05:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

All this discussion about how terrible it is that Bolton supposedly berated or disagreed with 'honest, hardworking' intelligence analysts leaves me unconvinced. I have worked as an analyst at major corporations in the past. I'm an intelligent person and always want to do my best. As part of that work effort I usually came to have an opinion about what the best solution was for any given issue I analyzed.

Not surprisingly, sometimes the conclusion of my analysis was rejected by management because it didn't fit the bigger picture that they could see. Rejecting the conclusions of my analysis didn't make me happy, but it also didn't reflect on my ability or mean that the management representatives I worked with should be fired because they didn't agree with my work. It's just a normal part of the give and take of the work environment.

Making intelligence analysts out to be sacred cows that cannot be disagreed with like Mr. Johnson wants to do doesn't seem realistic to me.

Posted by: Marlin at May 26, 2005 05:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Marlin:"Making intelligence analysts out to be sacred cows that cannot be disagreed with like Mr. Johnson wants to do doesn't seem realistic to me."

Okay what about job performance as the top State arms control official?
- distorted extent of Cuba's and Syria's WMD programs
- pulled out of Libya nonproliferation talks due to British request as to his beligerence
- failure to get N. Korea to climb down from making multiple nukes over 4 year period
- not only failed to develop verification protocols for BWC but actively blocked it
- blocked progress on advancing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty's goals
- has done nothing of value to encourage Iran from building up its nuclear weapons program

Considering his record of failure, why is he remaining with the administration to go to a post where he is to represent America before the world community?

Posted by: J. at May 26, 2005 06:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I really think everyone is missing the point altogether, and that is can one person be he the incaranation of evil in the flesh or the dipolmatic superman with benevolence overflowing from his cup even make a dent in the monstrosity that is the UN.

Bolton be he good or bad, the most skilled dipolmat or the most inept is not going to change one damn thing about the UN. Bolton could lay flowers at the feet of the UN Tinpot Dictators assembly or show them with a litany of threats and insults and the results will be the same. This place will chew up and spit out whatever we send in front of it.

Ask yourself one question. If you had the ablity to pick 1 person to represent the US at the UN SC and General Assembly, who would it be and what do you really think they could get done?

Posted by: m.harn at May 26, 2005 06:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well, Condi Rice already has her own answer to m.harn's question. She appointed Shirin Tahir-Kheli to be her Adviser on UN Reform. Rice created this position and appointed Tahir-Kheli in expectation of John Bolton's confirmation. What does that tell you?

Posted by: Stygius at May 26, 2005 06:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yuck. I don't believe you really mean it.

Posted by: Laura at May 26, 2005 07:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I found this passage from a GOPUSA post illuminating:

"One example of the "tension" caused by Bolton was what Wilkerson called "his moves and gyrations" aimed at preventing Mohamed ElBaradei from being reappointed as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear monitoring body.

"Now, what do I mean by that?" Wilkerson said. "I mean, going out of his way to bad-mouth him, to make sure that everybody knew that the maximum power of the United States would be brought to bear against them if he were brought back in," he said of Bolton's approach to ElBaradei."

Let's check the scorecard here. Bolton was the brains behind the Proliferation Security Initiative which exposed the Khan nuclear technology smuggling ring and Libya's hitherto unknown nuclear weapons program. Meanwhile, Mohamed ElBaradei's IAEA has let North Korea develop nukes and done nothing to stop Iran's march to nuclear weapons. Why in God's name would the United States want the head of such a useless organization to stay in place?

Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran's former president, has said that on the day the Muslim world gets nuclear weapons the Israeli question will be settled forever "since a single atomic bomb has the power to completely destroy Israel, while an Israeli counter-strike can only cause partial damage to the Islamic world." We need every tool we can get to stop Iran carrying out that threat. Bolton bullying the UN to carry out its charter and enforce its pacts and treaties would be a good place to start.

Posted by: pat at May 26, 2005 08:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What is there about Bolton, on the record (not your fantasies of his banging his shoe in the UN), that does not fairly cry, "Loser"?

I can't figure out why this guy EVER had a job in gov't.

But at this point, I half want to see him at the UN, out of pure schadenfreude.

Please, BD, having endorsed Bolton, post on other subjects so that we can be reminded how smart you are.

Posted by: Anderson at May 26, 2005 08:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I suppose one divide here is between those who believe that UN Ambassador is a more important job than Deputy Secretary of State, and those who believe the reverse. I suppose if people truly don't believe that the UN is that important and shouldn't be important in U.S. foreign policy making, than it doesn't really matter who we put there. But I suspect most Americans outside the beltway consider the UN ambassador the more important job and would rather not have an anti-diplomat representing them there.

Posted by: billd at May 27, 2005 12:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Voinovich Moment?

Funny - I don't ever remember you breaking down in tears while posting your point of view - What is this "other" Voinovich moment of which you speak?

Posted by: Tommy G at May 27, 2005 01:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

the argument is pointless. There are those who believe that the President must appoint someone who the UN, and those who mystically believe in the UN as the source of all goodness, approves us. Mr. Rogers, Captain Kangaroo, Spongebob Squarepants, and Barney the Dinosaur are their preferred picks. Anyone who disagrees with the UN-religion is unacceptable. If Sudan or Fidel took offense, well we should weep on the Senate floor trying to apologize to them for making them blue.

At the same time of course, we need to accept that we are the maintainers of the greatest gulag in history, the worst human rights abusers on the planet, because we did not wear kid gloves while handling Korans (like fragile works of art). Somewhere, somehow, in some fashion, Muslims and others took offense.

Our proper posture is to beg and grovel at the UN, so that paragons of moral virtue like Iran and Syria may forgive us.

These are the people and folks positions who oppose Bolton.

Others like Greg think Bolton is Bush's choice, absent anything major he should be approved. That the US comes first in it's foreign policy, and the sort of nonsensical anti-US crap that goes on has to be labelled what it is by someone unafraid to offend people.

Someone who can put his hands on his hips. Someone who might offend a loony sixties recovered memory specialist. Someone who might think Fidel is a bad guy. Someone who might have problems with the intelligence conclusions of a convicted Fidel Spy in the Defense Dept.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at May 27, 2005 01:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ah, the straw man returns, eh Jim Rockford? So, no Bolton means we grovel at the UN? Didn't realize Bolton was the only man standing between the U.S.'s dominance and the U.S. grovelling.

Look, face it, the guy isn't good at his job. He's done nothing to merit any promotion... and regardless of what anyone thinks about the U.N., being an Ambassador is more important than being the undersecretary to whatever...

Posted by: just me at May 27, 2005 02:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Those upset with Bolton about his management obviously did not read what I did about Westereman. Westerman is reported to have sent out the proposed speech to other agencies for comment. He added his criticsisms and suggested his own wording with his request. He then lied about doing so. If he was still in the Navy instead of the State Department, I doubt if his overall supervisor (Ford) would have been so protective. Especially when his immediate supervisor is on record as saying what Westerman did was not the way they do business.

Westerman is a loose cannon in a very sensitive area. Why protect some one like this.

Posted by: davod at May 27, 2005 11:49 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I've been torn on the Bolton issue... I like some things about him, but there are other things that I do not like; I can see how his defeat could help the anti-interventionist cause... though it could also help the pro-U.N., pro-world government cause, which would be a very bad thing. It will be interesting to see what happens with regard to this nomination.

Posted by: Aakash at May 29, 2005 06:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

But also:
By the way, who is "B.D."?

Posted by: Aakash at May 29, 2005 06:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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