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The Bolton Exception

Derek Chollet at Democracy Arsenal points out that, John Bolton aside, most of the major national security appointments of the second Bush term have been positive steps, indicating an intention to return to reality-based foreign policymaking. I agree. But this is part of the reason it would be so good if Bolton could be blocked. By all accounts, he's not the man Condoleezza Rice wanted for the job. Instead, he's the man Dick Cheney wanted to have the Deputy Secretary job that eventually went to the much-better Bob Zoellick. There are power struggles under way, and the good guys largely seem to be getting the better of it. If Bolton goes down because a couple responsible Republican Senators can be persuaded to bolster the efforts of reality-based forces inside the administration, the responsible members of the national security team will be that much more strengthened. If he gets in, maybe nothing will happen. Or maybe he'll use his role to undermine his boss and the Vice President will claw his way back to supremacy. Either way, nothing good is going to come of him getting job except that he'll be vacating his office at Foggy Bottom, but that's going to be happening anyway.

April 4, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

Matt, this "reality based" smear wasn't funny at the outset and it's getting very old.

(And if anything can be said about Bolton at all, it's that his view on the UN is very, very realistic, no?)

Posted by: ronb | Apr 4, 2005 11:36:48 PM

Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and Negroponte still head up the most important posts. I don't see how these appointments are going to make any difference, unless you somehow believe that policy rises from below rather than the other way around.

Posted by: David | Apr 4, 2005 11:52:41 PM

Rice was a lousy NSA but she's one of the good guys now.

Posted by: praktike | Apr 5, 2005 12:22:05 AM

Rice was a lousy NSA but she's one of the good guys now.

Rumsfeld fucked up all of the post-war security planning but, you know, he's one of the good guys, too. Negroponte is a death-squad running ideologue but, hey, he's so much more realistic than Tenet.

Posted by: David | Apr 5, 2005 12:53:09 AM

But Senators like my own Russ Feingold will vote in favor of Bolton. Barring something unforeseen, he'll get through the Senate.

Our time would be better spent articulating a strategy of reform for the UN. Everyone knows the UN needs an extreme makeover. To put it crudely, the argument is about whether to give it bigger boobs or a bigger butt.

Posted by: John | Apr 5, 2005 1:04:15 AM

The UN would do fine if it just got the support it needs from the one player it can't do without, the US. It doesn't need a bigger bust or butt, it needs a husband that doesn't treat it like a doormat.

Posted by: David | Apr 5, 2005 1:16:32 AM

" most of the major national security appointments of the second Bush term have been positive steps". Is this offered as some kind of joke? You know, start a blog, saying something silly and outlandish, get attention? This just shows what some 'moderates' in the Dem party will be happy with..

Posted by: jon stanley | Apr 5, 2005 6:41:23 AM

You're joking about the 2nd termers being an improvement - aren't you?

Rice - incompetent NSA director now Secretary of State.
Bolton - detested ideologue, now representing us in the UN.
Wolfowitz - Botched only major management assignement he ever had, now leading Iraq (Zilch experience leading an international company or bank.)
Rumsfeld - botched Afganistan and Iraq, still pursuing a fantasy "vision" of war.
Snow - bad record in industry, bad in government, most senior Treasury posts unfilled.
etc.

Let's not make ourselves look foolish seeking a silver lining. This squad is pathetic and will continue to destroy American political, economic and military power. Compare the US capabilities in 2000 and now - in every major area the US is much weaker. Leaving the moral questions aside, the Bush administration's basic incompetence remains the core problem.

Posted by: Samuel Knight | Apr 5, 2005 10:03:30 AM

The last thing we need now is more "reasonable liberals". I don't care how many competent people you've got working for them, if the boss is an idiot (Rumsfeld, Rice, Negroponte, Bolton, Cheney, Bush), then foreign policy is still going to be a disaster. The competent people are just going to become quickly dispirited and depressed.

Posted by: Freder Frederson | Apr 5, 2005 10:47:58 AM

I imagine Freder would class me as a "reasonable liberal" - the last thing we need right now, in his august opinion.

What a nuisance reasonable liberals are. They give credit where credit is due, as far as the Bush appointments of Zoellick, Burns, Zelikow, Hill, Krasner, England, and Edelman are concerned. Go to democracyarsenal.org if you don't believe me.

These appointees will not become dispirited and despressed working for Freder's "idiots." They've worked for them from the get go, or with other Republican administrations. Wishful thinking on Freder's part.

But maybe Freder would just abolish the Defense Dept and create a Dept. of Peace. Wasn't that Kucinich's idea?

Posted by: John | Apr 5, 2005 11:35:07 AM

What a nuisance reasonable liberals are. They give credit where credit is due, as far as the Bush appointments of Zoellick, Burns, Zelikow, Hill, Krasner, England, and Edelman are concerned. Go to democracyarsenal.org if you don't believe me.

Yes, reasonable liberals are a nuisance. As the old saying goes you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. We are entering the fifth year of the Bush presidency. His foreign policy has been one disaster after another that has been driven by a far right and utterly unrealistic agenda. He has refused to learn from his mistakes and destroyed our standing in the world. He has made a mockery of the phrases "rule of law" and "democracy". Yet reasonable liberals are constantly willing to give him one more chance when he appears to be moderating a little bit.

But look at the facts. No matter who fills the lower ranks, the people responsible for this debacle are still in charge. Rumsfeld, an admitted war criminal is still Secretary of Defense. Rice, who at the very least ignored facts, and probably outright lied to Congress, is Secretary of State. Wolfowitz, who said the war would pay for itself, is head of the World Bank. Gonzalez, who approved the use of torture, or rather defined torture out of existence, is Attorney General.

This is probably the most criminal administration in the history of the country. No quarter should be given. All our efforts should be concentrated at pointing out the crimes of this administration so that we can impeach them and have them in prison some time in 2007. By being reasonable we allowed the president to launch a illegal and unconstitutional war based on forged, faulty and fraudulent intelligence.

And then we are asked to believe that the errors were all the intelligence agencies' fault. Curveball as a codename didn't raise enough red flags? Would they have been more skeptical if his codename was Spitball?

Posted by: Freder Frederson | Apr 5, 2005 12:38:49 PM

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