Monday, June 20, 2005


Did Condi Intend To Kick Bolton Upstairs?

If so, I may actually be forced to give her an "atta-girl" for a change. (Not that this in any way makes up for her being asleep at the wheel for the first nine months of 2001, or for her cheerleading the reckless, immoral, and disastrous invasion of Iraq, but hey, it's a start. Maybe.) See, it looks almost like Condi, once she took over for Colin Powell at State in January, suddenly and simultaneously developed the smatterings of a brain, a spine, and/or a conscience. She immediately started moving to isolate Bolton at State, even as she convinced Bolton's biggest fan, George W. Bush, that Bolton should be made our ambassador to the UN -- a job which, though high profile, is ultimately one where even someone as destructive as Bolton can't do as much damage as in the State Department. Consider this:

For years, a key U.S. program intended to keep Russian nuclear fuel out of terrorist hands has been frozen by an arcane legal dispute. As undersecretary of state, John Bolton was charged with fixing the problem, but critics complained he was the roadblock. Now with Bolton no longer in the job, U.S. negotiators report a breakthrough with the Russians and predict a resolution will be sealed by President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin at an international summit in Scotland next month, clearing the way to eliminate enough plutonium to fuel 8,000 nuclear bombs.
The Russian breakthrough wasn't the only one that happened once Johnny Hammerhead's counterproductive nastiness was removed:
Without the hard-charging Bolton around, the Bush administration has not only moved to reconcile with Russia over nuclear-threat reduction, it has also dropped its campaign to oust the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency and made common cause with Europeans allies in offering incentives to Iran to persuade it to drop any ambitions for nuclear weapons. Bolton had also resisted using the so-called New York channel for communications with North Korea, a one-on-one meeting used sporadically through Bush's presidency and most recently revived in May. And fellow U.S. officials said Bolton had opposed a new strategic opening to India offering the prospect of sharing civilian nuclear technology, a move made in March.
The Russian and North Korean nuke situations aren't the only ones that Bolton bollixed up. Check this out:
...In a landmark speech at the National Defense University in February 2004, the president called for a toughened Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and other new initiatives. "There is a consensus among nations that proliferation cannot be tolerated," Bush said. "Yet this consensus means little unless it is translated into action." By action Bush meant the hard work of diplomacy, John Bolton, the president’s point man on nuclear arms control, told Congress a month later. For one thing, America needed to lead an effort at "closing a loophole" in the 35-year-old NPT, Bolton testified back then. The treaty’s provisions had to be updated to prevent countries like Iran from enriching uranium under cover of a peaceful civilian program—which is technically permitted under the NPT—when what Tehran really sought was a bomb, according to the administration. But if the NPT needed so much fixing under US leadership, why was the United States so shockingly unprepared when the treaty came up for its five-year review at a major conference in New York this month, in the view of many delegates? And why has the United States been losing control of the conference’s agenda this week to Iran and other countries—a potentially serious setback to US efforts to isolate Tehran? Part of the answer, several sources close to the negotiations tell NEWSWEEK, lies with Bolton, the undersecretary of State for arms control. Since last fall Bolton, Bush’s embattled nominee to be America’s ambassador to the United Nations, has aggressively lobbied for a senior job in the second Bush administration. During that time, Bolton did almost no diplomatic groundwork for the NPT conference, these officials say. "John was absent without leave" when it came to implementing the agenda that the president laid out in his February 2004 speech, a former senior Bush official declares flatly. Another former government official with experience in nonproliferation agrees. "Everyone knew the conference was coming and that it would be contentious. But Bolton stopped all diplomacy on this six months ago," this official said. "The White House and the National Security Council started worrying, wondering what was going on. So a few months ago the NSC had to step in and get things going themselves. The NPT regime is full of holes—it's very hard for the US to meet our objectives—it takes diplomacy." Diplomacy is just a fancy word for salesmanship—making phone calls, working the corridors, listening to and poking holes in opposing arguments, lobbying others to back one’s position. But "delegates didn’t hear a peep from the US until a week before the conference," says Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "There’s no sign of any coordinated US effort to develop a positive program." One diplomat involved with the conference agrees. "There were a number of the issues Bush raised in his February 2004 speech that needed to be taken up here, like the establishment of a special committee at the IAEA [the International Atomic Energy Agency] to go after [treaty] noncompliers. But painfully little has been done on that a year later."
When he isn't busy shunning diplomacy for kissing up to Bush, Bolton's also taking credit for successful initiatives that he actually had fought tooth and nail:
Throughout the Bolton controversy, his backers in the Bush administration have argued that though he may need better people skills, he has been very effective as a public official. Yet some critics of Bolton say that his alleged mishandling of the NPT conference and other initiatives show that he has sometimes botched the administration’s business as well. Bolton, for instance, often takes and is given credit for the administration’s Proliferation Security Initiative—an agreement to interdict suspected WMD shipments on the high seas—and the deal to dismantle Libya’s nuclear program (a deal that Bolton had sought to block). But the former senior Bush official who criticized Bolton’s performance on the NPT conference says that in fact Bolton’s successor, Robert Joseph, deserves most of the credit for those achievements. This official adds that it was Joseph, who was in charge of counterproliferation at the NSC, who had to pitch in when Bolton fumbled preparations for the NPT conference, as well. Bush, in his February 2004 speech, also sought to give new powers to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which enforces the treaty. But Bolton, says the former Bush official, "focused much more time and attention trying to deny Mohammed elBaradei a third term" as head of the IAEA. The effort failed, and it was considered another international humiliation for the United States. (Ironically, elBaradei has been one of Washington’s chief allies at the NPT conference, pushing for parts of the Bush agenda.)
As has been said, just because Bolton's no longer there doesn't mean that Adlai Stevenson's ghost is suddenly running the State Department. It just seems that way, because in contrast to John Bolton, even Condi Rice looks good. And yes, that's a deeply scary concept.

Condi has a long history of being a suckup, an opportunist and never an idealist or a moral person. She's a person with a past. I hope that I'm wrong but it seems probable that any inprovement in her behavior is either a technical feint or a temporary anomaly which will be corrected. It would take a long period of excellent behavior on her part before I'll eat my hat and if that happened she'd be gone from the Bush junta before the first bite was taken.

I've got a feeling that the only thing that mattered was getting Bolton out of her beautiful life and to hell with the consequences for the country and the world.

She's no good.
EPT said it well.

I do think the Administration is using Bolton to intimidate other countries and that Condi is acting under orders. She may have her private agenda, with which this fits.

There has been a long tradition in US diplomacy of what is, ironically, called "Russian-style negotiation." Pretend to be so crazy that everyone gives in to your demands to placate you.

Maybe it works at Republican family reunions.

Maybe they don't have to pretend.

But as a practical matter, what this does is motivate the entire world to find subtle means to undermine the US. It guarantees that, one of these days, US domination will be finished, because when realignment occurs, people will say that the US abused its position of trust and can never be trusted again.

This is not how anyone who loves their country should want it to come out.
This is why I used words like "almost" to describe Condi's seemingly-near-altruistic behavior. The thing is that the right thing to do is usually the pragmatic thing to do, and since Bolton was harshing everyone's mellow at State, it was decided to encourage him to go elsewhere. The unexpected result has been a slight easing of tensions in some areas of our foreign policy.

Be assured that I don't consider Condi all that bright. How can she be, when she can't even recognize that Bin Laden's using the same strategy against the US that he and his fellow mujahdeen used to drain the Soviet system dry twenty years ago? But compared to Bolton, she looks like Einstein. That's not a complement of Condi -- it's a way of stating just how bad Bolton is.

I think that she personally couldn't stand him, and, being marginally smarter than him as well as being a better kiss-up artist (for one thing, by most accounts she generally leaves out the 'kick down' part -- again, it's not just the right thing to do, it's the pragmatic thing to do), she was able to get him out of the State Department.

Of course, the really good thing would be for him to be flipping burgers in a Roy Rogers on the New Jersey Turnpike, but that'll never happen.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

More blogs about politics.
Technorati Blog Finder