A loyal TWN reader sent me this short clip of Ambassador John Bolton‘s appearance on the Jon Stewart Show Tuesday night — and it’s well worth watching.
At about 4:45 in the 5 minute and 23 second clip, Bolton agrees with Jon Stewart that President Bush should stop with oversimplified black/white pandering of “freedom is good” narratives vs. “people who hate liberty are trying to kill us” rhetoric.
While I would debate John Bolton’s underlying current of anti-internationalism, he was very reasonable in this interview and poked at “the idealists.” Who are the idealists Bolton is referring to?
Well, of the idealists that matter in US foreign policy circles today, liberal interventionists and neoconservatives stand out — and it seems to me that the idealism of the Bush administration has been driven more by the neocon crowd, many of who are John Bolton’s colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute.
I wish John Bolton had been at a dinner the New America Foundation/Middle East Policy Initiative hosted last night for former Israel Shin Bet Chief Ami Ayalon — a leading star in Israel’s Labor Party in the Knesset who narrowly lost a race recently against Ehud Barak to head the party.
Ayalon revealed that in discussions he had with former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz before the March 2003 Iraq invasion, Wolfowitz and he were discussing how “democracy” could be achieved in the Middle East. Ayalon reported that Wolfowitz said that “when tyranny and tyrants are removed, democracy will just burst out.”
I think Bolton would have concurred with Ayalon’s skepticism of Paul Wolfowitz’s alleged view. To be fair to Wolfowitz, I happen to know that his views on nation building are substantially more complex — but in the heady times in the Bush administration between the 9/11 attacks and the decision to invade Iraq, it’s easy to imagine Wolfowitz and other Bush administration idealists/neoconservatives making such statements.
Bolton’s reasonableness may in fact be spreading to other quarters inside AEI. Jacob Heilbrunn, author of They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons is speaking at an AEI lunch on Friday.
I have already heard of internal angst inside AEI over Heilbrunn being invited — but I commend those at AEI who did pull this lunch together and think that it’s a testament to any institution that it can entertain speakers and ideas that may run at odds with the general milieu of an organization. I might even go.
— Steve Clemons