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John Bolton|: The Anti-Diplomat
American Progress Action, 11/18/04


In a move to solidify support for his extreme right-wing foreign policy, President Bush is expected to name neoconservative, unilateralist hawk John Bolton as deputy secretary of state. Bolton is known by members of the State Department as a ''guided missile'' because, "like a missile, Bolton has force and direction and often achieves his objectives, even if there is collateral damage." Salon characterized his impact on U.S. foreign policy, stating, "By forging ties between the hawks in the Defense Department and the White House with the State Department, Bolton has helped to undercut the main government entity supportive of international engagement. By helping to build a relationship between Republican foot soldiers and the neocons, Bolton has helped sever ties between the United States and the rest of the world." (Who is John Bolton? Find out more.)

MANIPULATING INTELLIGENCE: As the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, upset that the intelligence experts at the department weren't telling him what he wanted to hear about Iraq's phantom WMD, Bolton cancelled his daily meetings with the department's intelligence expert, Greg Theilmann. Instead, he demanded to be fed raw intelligence from the CIA. According to Theilmann, the whole point of the intelligence system in place was "to prevent raw intelligence from getting to people who would be misled." Bolton, however, "wanted his aides to receive and assign intelligence analyses and assessments using the raw data. In essence, the under-secretary would be running his own intelligence operation, without any guidance or support." This allowed the administration to cherry-pick data to bolster its deceptive claims of the threat posed by Iraq.

MR. DIPLOMACY: For a diplomat, Bolton has a disturbing lack of tact and diplomacy. In 1999, he roiled the diplomatic waters by charging that a sound U.S. policy "would start by making it clear to the North that we are indifferent to whether we ever have 'normal' diplomatic relations with it, and that achieving that goal is entirely in their interests, not ours. We should also make clear that diplomatic normalization with the U.S. is only going to come when North Korea becomes a normal country." In July 2003, just before crucial six-nation talks with North Korea, his thoughtless comments caused a heightening of tensions. Bolton called North Korean leader Kim Jong Il a "tyrannical dictator" of a country where "life is a hellish nightmare." North Korea immediately responded, saying that "such human scum and bloodsucker is not entitled to take part in the talks.... We have decided not to consider him as an official of the U.S. administration any longer nor to deal with [him]." The State Department was forced to call Bolton home and send a replacement to the talks. Bolton's colleagues are scathing in their assessment of his diplomatic skills: One high-level co-worker called Bolton "an anti-diplomat who tries to intimidate those who disagree with his views."

THE NUCLEAR NAME-CALLER: Bolton has been the key White House official in charge of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. According to many arms control advocates, however, he has actually weakened international efforts to do that. ''Bolton has confused having a name-calling strategy with having an effective non-proliferation strategy,' says Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association." Under Bolton's watch, North Korea has likely quadrupled the size of its nuclear arsenal; Bolton referred to concerns about the dramatic multiplication of North Korea's nuclear weapons as "quibbling." Iran has also been aggressively pursuing a nuclear arsenal; Bolton failed to develop a serious policy and the White House punted responsibility for the crisis to Europe. When Tehran "signaled interest in discussing its nuclear program," Bolton brushed it aside. And when the administration did conduct secret talks with Iran about the Iraq invasion, negotiators were given one clear directive: "Don't bring up the nukes."

THE U.N. LIAISON: As deputy secretary of state, Bolton will have to work with the United Nations, a group he has harshly disparaged in the past. In 1994, for example, he charged, "There's no such thing as the United Nations," saying that ''If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.'' Four years later, he attacked the international body again, saying, "many Republicans in Congress - and perhaps a majority - not only do not care about losing the General Assembly vote but actually see it as a 'make my day' outcome. Indeed, once the vote is lost, and the adverse consequences predicted by the U.N.'s supporters begin to occur, this will simply provide further evidence to many why nothing more should be paid to the U.N. system."

PORTRAIT OF BOLTON AS A YOUNG MAN: Legal Times reported in 1987 that in 1978, Bolton helped Sen. Jesse Helms's National Congressional Club form Jefferson Marketing "as a vehicle to supply candidates with such services as advertising and direct mail without having to worry about the federal laws preventing PACs, like the Congressional Club, from contributing more than $5,000 per election to any one candidate's campaign committee." As a reward, Sen. Helms "helped the career of John Bolton" by supporting him in his career. In Bolton's confirmation hearing, Helms characterized him as "the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon."



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