Monday, January 09, 2006

Bolton v. World

When Bolton was nominated in March 2005, the Bush administration seemed invincible at home and abroad. Having won an election based on his handling of a war to which the UN had refused to grant its imprimatur, Bush started his second term with a self-proclaimed mandate to impose his aggressive doctrine to the far reaches of the globe. Flying high, Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney sent Bolton, a combative State Department official and longtime Cheney confidant, to do to the UN what their two previous ambassadors to Turtle Bay could not: make the world body a wholly owned subsidiary of Bush foreign policy.

That was the plan. But over the past 10 months, Bush’s poll numbers have plummeted while Iraq has taxed every ounce of American diplomatic and military resources. Bolton, meanwhile, never seems to have gotten the memo that times have changed; he remains a fire-breathing caricature of Bush’s first-term, “shoot first, do diplomacy later” outlook. And that approach is no longer sustainable. At least one comparatively saner Bush administration official knows this. And so the tension between Rice and Bolton has grown dramatically in several areas, most notably with regard to Syria: The Prospect has learned that Bolton was the source of an October leak to the British press that submarined sensitive negotiations Rice was overseeing with that country.

A good article by Mark Leon Goldberg in this month's The American Prospect about how Bolton is even worse than we feared. In just a few short months, he's demoralized the U.S. mission to the UN, alienated allies, given leverage to adversaries, and, just to prove that there's a little good in everyone, gotten Condi's panties into a bunch on a number of occasions. Worth a read.

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