Richard Lugar and others have been commenting that Bolton’s worst traits may be good skills for the Ambassadorial position in the United Nations. They argue that his combativeness and tendency towards abuse of people may help him turn the U.N. in directios it needs to go.
I won’t get in to how wrong-headed that logic is this morning. I’m at the Lisbon Airport and need to focus on what is possible and logical — and not irresponsible commentary about how abusive behavior and foreign policy recklessness can be good for the country and world. I wish that we had the resources to quickly launch a “John Bolton Teaching Unit” throughout junior high schools and high schools throughout the country so that Senators could see how their own rhetoric and thin rationales in favor of John Bolton were setting up miserably bad examples for our youth.
Here is a short vignette I learned recently via email discourse with several sources who are close to senior leadership in the G8 countries.
In the Fall of 2004, John Bolton was given the task of communicating U.S. admninistration policy on Iran — and commenting on the prospect and process of European negotiations with Iran — at a Washington meeting of certain G8 principals.
Normally at such U.S.-chaired meetings, there is lots of discussion, lots of investment in concensus-building, back and forth commentary, etc.
At this meeting, however, Bolton simply “quickly stated administration policy and that was it. He stopped. No more discussion. He gave ‘one read’ of the policy and refused to do more.”
In other words — and I have confirmed this bizarre incident — John Bolton read the administration’s policy from a prepared text, but he refused to distribute that text — and he refused to read the statement again.
He had read the statement once, fast — and would not read it again.
And then, as they say, there was silence. . .total dumbfounded silence.
As it turned out, administration policy that Bolton was articulating, reluctantly as he did not support it, is that the administration was communicating to Europe that while it suspected and predicted that the negotiation process between the EU and Iran would fail, the U.S. would not object to what was underway.
The wording of the once-read statement of policy by Bolton was carefully crafted so as to give the Europeans license, from the American point of view, to proceed with Iran — without formally attaching a positive expectation from the U.S. about the process.
Bolton didn’t like the policy, so he wouldn’t hand out copies of it. And he would only read the statement once. . .fast.
This is not mature behavior.
If he gets to the U.N., this is the kind of childishness that so thoroughly undermines American credibility. We need to do better than Bolton
— Steve Clemons