Bolton Known to Some as the Un-Diplomat

IJ Reilly

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The U.N. ambassador nominee speaks his mind freely. His stern messages have won him powerful admirers in the administration.

WASHINGTON — Diplomats from six countries were ready to begin long-awaited talks on North Korea's nuclear program in July 2003 when U.S. arms control official John R. Bolton unexpectedly showed up in Seoul for a speech on the secretive regime.

Bolton criticized Pyongyang in harsh and personal terms, prompting the North Koreans to denounce him as "scum," and leading diplomats to fear that the sensitive talks would be called off.

In more than two decades in government, the 56-year-old Bolton has regularly served up messages that ignored diplomatic niceties. He has unsettled colleagues when he strayed from the administration's position. But he has won powerful admirers, including Vice President Dick Cheney, who once said Bolton deserved "any job he wants" in the Bush administration.

"Diplomacy is not an end [in] itself if it does not advance U.S. interests," Bolton has repeatedly said. He proudly keeps a bronzed hand grenade in his office to show his pride at his reputation as a bomb thrower.

"He's a man who knows his mind and speaks it freely," said Helle Dale, an admirer who is head of national security policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington.

If he is confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, she predicted, Bolton will adopt an approach similar to Jeanne Kirkpatrick, the tough-talking U.S. ambassador to the world body from 1981 to 1985.

"And there may be some trepidation at the United Nations," Dale added.

In his current role as undersecretary of State for arms control, the department's No. 4 job, he has refused to yield regarding countries that the administration believes are building unconventional weapons programs, including North Korea and Iran.

Once asked why he opposed offering incentives to North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program, Bolton said: "I don't do carrots."

He has warned of threats from foreign governments when others in the administration didn't concur. In 2002, Bolton delivered a stern speech warning that Fidel Castro was beginning a germ weapon program.

Other administration officials immediately sought to soften the warning; some intelligence officials made clear that they had no information about such a threat.

Some nonproliferation specialists have been particularly critical of Bolton's strategy, in which he confronts some countries with purported evidence of attempts to acquire nuclear and biological weapons, then tries to persuade allies to support U.S. efforts to isolate them.

"John Bolton has been totally unapologetic about his radical prescription for dealing with the proliferation threat," Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has said. "The main problem is that it hasn't worked anywhere."

In his current job, Bolton has also battled international organizations that could wield authority over Americans — most notably, the International Criminal Court.

He was also one of the administration's strongest advocates for dumping the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, which prevented construction of an American antimissile shield.

...

A senior member of the Bush legal team during the Florida presidential ballot recount of 2000, Bolton has enjoyed strong support from conservatives, including former Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), a onetime chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Helms described Bolton as "the kind of man I would want to stand with at Armageddon."

...

Some remarks by John R. Bolton:

"There is no such thing as the United Nations…. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world and that is the United States when it suits our interest and when we can get others to go along. And I think it would be a real mistake to count on the U.N. as if it is some disembodied entity out there that can function on its own."— Global Structures Convocation, Feb. 3, 1994

The European arguments against the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act demonstrate that "some Europeans have never lost faith in appeasement as a way of life. It is clear that Iran is cynically manipulating gullible (or equally cynical) Europeans to advance its development of weapons of mass destruction."— New York Times, July 28, 1996

"As you know, I have over the years written critically about the U.N…. I have consistently stressed in my writings that American leadership is critical to the success of the U.N., an effective U.N., one that is true to the original intent of its charter's framers."—Remarks in Washington on Monday
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-bolton8mar08,1,4624719.story
 

mactastic

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What better way to give the finger to the UN than to send an ambassador who hates them!

Same logic that says What better way to show Iraqis our support for human rights than by sending an ambassador who's violated them time and again!
 

skunk

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4389639.stm
Ex-US diplomats round on Bolton

Fifty-nine former US diplomats have written to the chairman of a key Senate committee in protest at the nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the UN.

The diplomats, who served under both Republican and Democrat presidents, described Mr Bolton, a known critic of the UN, as "the wrong man" for the job.

They urged the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to block his appointment.

Mr Bolton served as under-secretary of state responsible for arms control during President Bush's first term.

Chief among the objections was Mr Bolton's stated view that the UN "is valuable only when it directly serves the United States".

Veterans object

In addition, Mr Bolton was criticised for his record as US arms control supremo.

He had an "exceptional record" of undermining potential improvements to US national security through arms control, the diplomats complained.

Among the most senior signatories was Arthur Hartman, former ambassador to France and the Soviet Union under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and assistant secretary of state for European affairs under President Richard Nixon.

Princeton Lyman, a former ambassador to South Africa and Nigeria, Monteagle Stearns, US representative in Greece and Ivory Coast, and Spurgeon Keeny Jr, Jimmy Carter's deputy director of arms control, also signed the letter.

Mr Bolton requires approval from the foreign relations committee - made up of 10 Republicans and eight Democrats - before being told he can head to the UN's New York headquarters.

Announcing his nomination at the start of March, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described him as a "tough-minded diplomat" with "a proven track record of effective multilateralism".

But the former diplomats insist his hard-line views on states such as Cuba and Syria, as well as previous paid employment for the government of Taiwan, make him an unsuitable candidate.

"Given these past actions and statements, John R Bolton cannot be an effective promoter of the US national interest at the UN," they wrote.

"We urge you to oppose his nomination."​
What do they know? They're only diplomats.
 

Thomas Veil

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Well, well, well, well, well. Look at what David Corn turned up about John Bolton:

Readers over the age of 40 might recall that in the late 1980s, there was a fierce fight pitting the Reagan and Bush I administrations against a few gutsy Democrats in Congress--Senator John Kerry among them--who were trying to investigate allegations that supporters of the Reagan-backed contra rebels in Central America were involved in drugrunning. Rather than cooperate in the search for truth, Reagan and Bush I officials withheld documents from the Democrats. They also badmouthed the investigations and did all they could to marginalize these inquiries as nothing but partisan-driven efforts of conspiracy-minded wingnuts. And, to a degree, the GOP obstructionists succeeded. The Iran-contra committees stayed away from the matter. The report produced by Kerry's subcommittee--which concluded there was evidence that supporters of the CIA-assisted contras were drug smugglers--received little media attention. Yet years later, the CIA's own inspector general released two reports that acknowledged the CIA had knowingly worked with contra supporters suspected of drugrunning. Kerry and the others had been right. But the sly spinners of the Reagan-Bush administrations had succeeded in preventing the contra drug connection from becoming a full-blown scandal.

And who was one of the Reagan/Bush officials who strove to thwart Kerry and other pursuers of this politically inconvenient truth? By now you have guessed it: John Bolton.

...Bolton's truth-smothering endeavors back then are consistent with his subsequent career. He has been an ideological hatchet man, saying whatever he needs to say (whether it's true or not) to press forward his hawkish agenda. Back in the 1980s, he blocked inquiries into the CIA's involvement with drug runners. Now he complains about corruption at the UN and claims to be a force for truth and reform. As a cynical and partisan situationalist who poses as a frank and blunt idealist, he does indeed represent the Bush administration. But the nation deserves better representation at the UN.
 

diamond geezer

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From The Guardian:

link

The eccentric selection of John Bolton as Bush's ambassador to the UN is consistent with such a strategy of sabotage rather than reform. His hostility to any constraint on US unilateralism is so deep, (and his life so sad), that he described his "happiest moment" signing the letter to Kofi Annan telling him that the US would have nothing to do with the international criminal court. His relish in the gesture is all the more revealing as the issue was not within the remit of his job, and he pleaded to be allowed to sign as a special favour.
 

zimv20

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what a guy!

link

Intel: Did Bolton Try to Intimidate Spies?

April 11 issue - Bush critics in the Senate are hunting for evidence to derail or delay confirmation of State Department official John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Foreign Relations Committee staffers are looking into charges that Bolton attempted to intimidate or victimize two career intelligence officials for what he viewed as their insufficiently alarmist analyses of intel on purported Cuban biological weapons. Committee investigators have contacted both the State Department and the intel community seeking records and witnesses. But Bolton's opponents are unsure if they will be able to make their case in time for Bolton's confirmation hearing Thursday.

Accusations that Bolton pressured intel specialists on Cuba have circulated since at least 2003, when congressional intelligence committees looked into allegations that intel analysts were urged to issue alarming reports about Saddam Hussein's unconventional weapons. The hearings produced little evidence of that. But State Department WMD analyst Christian Westermann testified that he tangled with Bolton about a speech on Cuban germ warfare. According to a Senate intel committee report, Westermann says he sent the CIA an e-mail proposing changes in Bolton's speech. Bolton later got a copy of the e-mail, "berated" Westermann and tried to have the analyst transferred. Westermann wasn't reassigned.

The second case Bolton's congressional critics are examining involves a senior intelligence-community Latin America analyst. Congressional and administration sources say Bush foreign-policy aides—including Bolton and Otto Reich, a top policymaker on Latin America—tried to have the analyst, who today serves undercover, fired. They then tried to block him from being promoted because they believed he was too soft on Cuba, and because he was once assigned to President Bill Clinton's National Security Council. Reich tells NEWSWEEK that he believed the analyst's work was "unreliable." Reich says he discussed his views with Bolton and "other colleagues" and that he wrote a secret letter to the analyst's bosses critiquing the expert's work. But a former official says George Tenet, who was then CIA director, resisted pressure from Bolton and Reich, and the analyst was ultimately promoted. Some Senate Democrats hope to persuade at least one Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee to vote against Bolton's confirmation, which could deadlock the panel and delay—or even block—his U.N. nomination from reaching the Senate floor. Bolton declined to comment.
 

IJ Reilly

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Mystery solved? Bush said in an interview in 2003 (as quoted in the Mobile AL Register):

"I don't listen to this noise that goes on around here, and I don't pay much attention to those people who want to stay here, he said. I came from Texas, and I'll go back to Texas. And in Midland, Texas, when I grew up, there were more signs saying 'Get us out of the UN' than there were saying 'God Bless America.' And there were plenty of 'God Bless America' signs."
For those who need a reminder, "Get us out of the UN" is the slogan of the John Birch Society. I hope nobody needs to be reminded who they are.
 

IJ Reilly

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But there's more! (Isn't there always more?) Some of the background I was able to dig up:

Expert Said to Tell Legislators He Was Pressed to Distort Some Evidence

June 25, 2003

ABSTRACT - Several Congressional officials say Christian Westermann, State Department expert on chemical and biological weapons, has come forward and told Congressional committees in closed-door hearing that he had been pressed to tailor his analysis on Iraq and other matters to conform with Bush administration views, although he never actually changed wording of any of his intelligence reports; says pressure came from John Bolton, under secretary of state for arms control and international security; administration officials say Westermann's most specific complaint concerned issues related to intelligence on Cuba and that he has not yet provided similar specific complaints about handling of intelligence on Iraq
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA0F10F8385F0C768EDDAF0894DB404482&incamp=archive:search

TONY JONES: Moving on to Iraq, John Bolton, there is still no large-scale finds of weapons of mass destruction there.

Recently, there's been an allegation published that you put pressure on an expert on chemical and biological weapons, Mr Christian Westerman, to make his intelligence reports on Iraq conform with administration policy.

What do you say to those claims?

JOHN BOLTON: That is absolutely false.

I have never pressured any intelligence analyst on any matter.

TONY JONES: Mr Westerman told the House and Senate intelligence committees you did put pressure on him or he had that impression.

JOHN BOLTON: Mr Westerman tried to change a speech that I gave on, among other things, Cuba's biological weapons program, where he tried to change a sentence that was a direct quotation from an intelligence community product.

He was overruled by his own superiors in the intelligence community.

TONY JONES: The sorts of accusations that Mr Westerman is making have also been made in Britain.

Do you agree it would be incredibly dangerous for political spin to be put on any intelligence reports?

JOHN BOLTON: I'm not aware of any effort in the United States Government or the British Government to pressure anybody to come to a different conclusion on intelligence matters.
http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2003/s895373.htm
 

Xtremehkr

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He's the right kind of guy for this administration, he will do absolutely anything they want him to without guilt or remorse it seems. I can't say that I am able to muster any form of respect for people who are so willing to sell themselves with no thought or concern for anybody else.
 

Thomas Veil

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New allegations from a Texas businesswoman that Bolton tried to threaten and intimidate her in regards to a contract.

In response, Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Chuck Hagel has stated he is troubled by the allegations and may vote against Bolton...though at present he's still leaning towards approval.

Keep your fingers crossed, folks. The vote may be coming up as early as tomorrow.
 

zimv20

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link

Bolton Often Blocked Information, Officials Say

Iran, IAEA Matters Were Allegedly Kept From Rice, Powell

John R. Bolton -- who is seeking confirmation as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations -- often blocked then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and, on one occasion, his successor, Condoleezza Rice, from receiving information vital to U.S. strategies on Iran, according to current and former officials who have worked with Bolton.

In some cases, career officials found back channels to Powell or his deputy, Richard L. Armitage, who encouraged assistant secretaries to bring information directly to him. In other cases, the information was delayed for weeks or simply did not get through. The officials, who would discuss the incidents only on the condition of anonymity because some continue to deal with Bolton on other issues, cited a dozen examples of memos or information that Bolton refused to forward during his four years as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.

Two officials described a memo that had been prepared for Powell at the end of October 2003, ahead of a critical international meeting on Iran, informing him that the United States was losing support for efforts to have the U.N. Security Council investigate Iran's nuclear program. Bolton allegedly argued that it would be premature to throw in the towel. "When Armitage's staff asked for information about what other countries were thinking, Bolton said that information couldn't be collected," according to one official with firsthand knowledge of the exchange.

(more)
 

IJ Reilly

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skunk said:
He sounds perfect!
In a deeply flawed sort of way.

In the end, I don't think any of the "dissident" Republicans on the committee will end up voting against the nomination. In fact I think the unhappy noises they're making now are nothing more than cover -- so later on they can have it both ways. At best they're signaling to the administration not to send them anymore terrible nominees like Bolton, but even that I doubt is the real message.
 

solvs

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IJ Reilly said:
In fact I think the unhappy noises they're making now are nothing more than cover -- so later on they can have it both ways.
Ding, ding, ding... we have a winner!

The Dems put up a big stink, the centerist Republicans raise some questions, and the guy gets the job anyway despite being completely unqualified and the exact wrong guy for the job. Witness Condi and Alberto. Of course, they had racism accusations to fall back on (as if anyone complained about Powell, but he, you know... didn't suck). Bernie Kerik was not so lucky. Perhaps this nutcase will meet the same fate.

Even if that story about him chasing and threatening that girl isn't true.
 

zimv20

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link

In surprise, vote on Bolton delayed

GOP senator asks to hear more

WASHINGTON -- In a surprise move, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday delayed a vote on President Bush's nominee to be United Nations ambassador after a Republican senator joined Democrats in expressing concern about John R. Bolton's temperament and fitness for the job.

The committee will not meet again until senators return from a recess on May 9, at which time senators may call more witnesses and possibly ask Bolton to offer additional testimony.

Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana, had initially dismissed Democrats' request for more time to explore allegations against Bolton, but was forced to agree to a delay when a fellow Republican, Senator George V. Voinovich of Ohio, stunned members of the committee by saying that he could not support the nominee without more information about the complaints against him.

''I think one's interpersonal skills and their relationship with their fellow man is a very important ingredient in anyone that works for me . . . And I've heard enough today that gives me some real concern about Mr. Bolton," Voinovich told the committee after listening to Senators Joseph Biden of Delaware and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut outline allegations that Bolton had tried to remove two intelligence analysts who challenged his assertion that Cuba had a biological weapons program.

Voinovich, who had been unable to attend earlier hearings on Bolton, told reporters that he had come prepared to vote in favor of Bolton, but was persuaded to support a delay ''by the passion on the other side."

Without Voinovich's vote, Bolton's nomination risked a 9-9 tie along partisan lines, which could prevent Bolton's nomination from moving to the Senate floor.

(more)
 

Thomas Veil

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Possibly. Voinovich was a moderate Republican when he was mayor of Cleveland, a little more conservative when he became governor of Ohio. I hope the "moderate" part is what we're seeing here.