That’s the appellation assigned to President Bush by Michael Freund.
Former Ambassador John Bolton seems to concur in this interview with Spiegel Online. While the interviewer, Cordula Meyer, definitely thinks she is playing a condescending game of hardball with these questions, Bolton easily lobs them off the wall.
The thing is, when a person of integrity plays the game, none of the questions are ducked. Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose…watch what he says about world public opinion regarding U.S. policies.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Ambassador, you worked closely with the president and you shared his hawkish views on Iraq. But your new book is fiercely critical of George W. Bush. Why?
Bolton: His foreign policy is in free fall. The president is turning against his own best judgment and instincts under the influence of Secretary (of State Condoleeza) Rice. She is the dominant voice, indeed, almost the only voice on foreign policy in this administration.
SPIEGEL: The popular reading of her looks a bit different. She is presumed to be weak and not particularly efficient.
Bolton: No. Rice is channeling the views of the liberal career bureaucrats in the State Department. The president is focusing all his attention on Iraq and, by doing so, has allowed the secretary to become captured by the State Department. He is not adequately supervising her. It is a mistake.
SPIEGEL: Could it be that your pique really comes from the fact that the president doesn’t seem to be listening to neoconservatives like you anymore?
Bolton: The vice president (Vice President Dick Cheney) is still there. But the idea that somehow the neocons were so powerful is a myth — I mean, it was five or six people, for God sakes. I am not a neoconservative. I am pro-American.
SPIEGEL: You have said that the new moderate foreign policy currently being followed by Bush compromises the security of the United States.
Bolton: Well, I think so. North Korea is going to get away with keeping its nuclear weapons. I think the (National Intelligence Estimate) sends Iran a signal they can do whatever they want…
SPIEGEL: In the past, you argued for a military intervention in Iran. Do you still consider that an option?
Bolton: I don’t have the same high confidence these intelligence analysts do that, in fact, there was a full suspension of the military program in Iran. This is not like those claims about Cheney pressuring the poor intelligence community to spin intelligence on Iraq. This is politicization from the other side — people in the intelligence community allowing policy preferences to affect their analysis and judgments about the intelligence.
SPIEGEL: And where is the president? Is he merely a puppet?
Bolton: Look at the North Korean policy. The North Koreans certainly were involved in that facility in Syria that was raided by the Israelis. The North Koreans renege on their commitments and we still negotiate.
SPIEGEL: What do you see as the alternative — bombing Pyongyang? [snarky little interviewer isn’t she?]
Bolton: I’m not running around the world looking for ways to create hostilities. The solution to North Korea is the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. China could influence the North; it supplies 80 to 90 percent of North Korea’s energy. The United States have to put pressure on China in order for China to pressure North Korea.
SPIEGEL: Do you have any second thoughts about the American engagement in Iraq?
Bolton: It was right to overthrow Saddam Hussein. It was the regime itself that was a threat. I think in hindsight, what I would have done is turn authority back over to Iraqis much more quickly and say: “Your country, you figure out how to run it.”
SPIEGEL: Would you say the world is now a safer place than before the Iraq war?
Bolton: Yes. There is now no possibility that Iraq is going to have weapons of mass destruction. We had the ancillary strategic victory when (Libyan leader) Moammar Gadhafi gave up his nuclear weapons program as well. When he looked at Saddam, he concluded — incorrectly — that he might be next.
SPIEGEL: You don’t seem to doubt the go-it-alone approach of the United States although anti-Americanism is rising across the world. Doesn’t such a negative view of America weaken US power?
– – – – – – – – –
Bolton: I don’t think so. I have looked at public opinion polls in France in the late 1940s and early 1950s during the height of Marshall Plan aid. They had a very negative attitude towards the United States then. There were negative attitudes towards the United States because of Vietnam. There were negative attitudes about the United States when Reagan wanted to deploy intermediate range ballistic missiles. I don’t think the president should base his foreign policy on American public opinion polls, let alone foreign public opinion polls.
SPIEGEL: What kind of foreign policy will the next president pursue?
Bolton: If you get a President (Hillary) Clinton, you might well find, just as after Vietnam, that there is a retraction from Iraq and of American influence in the world. And in a couple of years the Europeans will be complaining about that too. See how long American troops last in Europe under an administration that thinks it is time for America to come home.
SPIEGEL: Is that a threat? [she still thinks she’s in the game. Watch him hit this one right back at her]
Bolton: No. The European Union can now act like a major power, at least that is what the European Union tells us. So they should do so — they can experiment with Russia.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Ambassador, thank very much for taking the time to speak with us.
Heh. It looks like she made the decision to terminate the interview when she ran out of balls.
Now if Bolton were running for President, I’d actually be happy to talk about campaign politics…at least there would be some meat in the meal rather than the flat, cold, syrupy pancakes on offer at the moment.
In his book, Surrender Is Not An Option, Bolton dissects the State Department:
…anyone who has ever engaged in an internal turf struggles with State bureaucrats knows the true meaning of street fighting. Instead of fighting with ourselves, however, in a circular firing squad, we should be directing our energies against our foreign adversaries, which we are certainly not now doing adequately. This cultural problem is solvable, although we need to understand that, because it developed over decades, it will take decades to cure…
Diplomacy should come to mean advocacy. Advocacy for American interests must be the priority, not compromise and conciliation for their own sake. Disagreement with foreign friends or adversaries is not itself distasteful, nor simply an unpleasantness to be overcome as rapidly and quietly as possible without regard to substantive outcomes. Disagreement reveals underlying issues that should be resolved consistently with our own interests…”Argument,” which lawyers do all the time, but which diplomats shy away from, I neither unpleasant nor disagreeable, but actually critical to making the case for the interests we are advancing…(pages 454-455)
I doubt any candidate has the wisdom or guts to put Mr. Bolton in charge of the State Department. That’s unfortunate for us, since the current machine is a creaky, dysfunctional and toxic mess. The EPA ought to clean it out first, before anyone tries to reform it.
Meanwhile Secretary of State Rice continues to give away the family silver…she is definitely a living illustration of the Peter Principle.
John Bolton doesn’t actually say that the State Department is a seditious albatross hanging from the neck of American policy…since he doesn’t say this, I’ll say it for him: for heaven’s sake, will anyone show some spine and cut that cord?
If reform doesn’t start soon, it doesn’t matter which cardboard cutout we elect in 2008.