http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-bolton8mar08,1,4624719.storyThe 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