John Bolton’s Tribal Wars Inside the Bush Administration


bolton smiles.jpg
There are many including this writer who have been documenting the internal decision-making divisions inside President Bush’s White House.
The response that tends to be offered back is that we are misreading the situation, or that all of President Bush’s people are pulling together even if there are serious differences in the debate when policy is being hammered out.
But yesterday, I learned of something that John Bolton did during the first George W. Bush term that reflects the deep hostility between warring factions in the Bush machine.
On a White House orchestrated conference call, a number of officials had been discussing a national security matter. One White House official in the phone conference apparently was supposed to go off the call before then Under Secretary of State for International Security and Arms Control John Bolton came on — but the White House operator forgot to disconnect him (or her).
When the moderator of the meeting stated that the portion of the call with “X Person” had ended and the discussion with John Bolton would begin, Bolton allegedly said:

I want to tell everyone on this call now, do not trust [that person].”

Well, the person was still listening, in utter shock. The person quickly hung up the call.
This is yet another indication of Bolton’s divisive ‘with him or against him’ tactics in the administration.
When Bill Frist and George Bush kept saying “Bolton is a good man” during his failed UN confirmation process, it really turned the stomachs of many inside the White House.
Now Bolton is lobbying against Bush’s Law of the Sea policy. He’s been trying to undermine virtually every serious project at the Department of State — from efforts to redirect Iran, the Six Party talks with North Korea, and the coming November Israel/Palestine Summit.
Bolton is the hardest working person in Washington now trying to undermine global stability, in much the same way he has been trying to undermine his former colleagues who serve the same President he served.
— Steve Clemons


11 comments on “John Bolton’s Tribal Wars Inside the Bush Administration

  1. Informed Lawyer says:

    EU Hides Behind ‘Private’ Standards in Effort to Secure Global Regulatory Control
    Developing Countries May Have New Grounds to Bring WTO Actions Against Europe
    PRINCETON, N.J., Oct. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In the current issue of the Global Trade and Customs Journal, international trade and regulatory lawyer Lawrence Kogan details how the European Union and its member states
    previously enlisted private European environmental standards bodies to promote official government sustainable forest management policies that likely violated the World Trade Organization rights of developing countries
    and their industries. In addition, the article describes how these same EU governments are behind the ongoing efforts of other European pressure groups to promote, via United Nations agencies and international standardization organizations, the adoption by global industry supply chains of overly strict corporate social responsibility standards.
    According to Mr. Kogan, “It is no secret that the EU aspires to ‘usurp America’s role as a source of global standards,’ and to become ‘the world’s regulatory capital’ and ‘standard-bearer.'” Therefore, it is natural that
    they would endeavor to employ whatever nontransparent means are available to push their regulatory control agenda forward.” As EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson claimed in a prior speech, ‘exporting our rules and standards around the world is one source [and expression] of European power.'”
    Two recent articles appearing in the Financial Times and the Economist confirm this assessment. “The Commission, the EU’s executive body, states openly that it wants other countries to follow EU rules and its officials are working hard to put that vision into practice… [T]he Union [has]… a body of law running to almost 95,000 pages — a set of rules and regulations that covers virtually all aspects of economic life and that is constantly expanded and updated. Compared with other jurisdictions, the EU’s rules tend to be stricter, especially where product safety, consumer protection and environmental and health [sustainable development] requirements are concerned.”
    The European regulatory model is worrisome, emphasizes Kogan, paraphrasing from one article, especially “because ‘it rests on the
    [standard-of-proof-diminishing, burden-of-proof-reversing, guilty-until-proven-innocent, I-fear-therefore-I-shall-ban, hazard-(not risk)-based] Precautionary Principle’, which is inconsistent with both WTO law and US constitutionally-guaranteed private property rights.” As another
    article reaffirms, “In Europe corporate innocence is not assumed. Indeed, a vast slab of EU laws… reverses the burden of proof, asking industry to demonstrate that substances are harmless…[T]he philosophical gap reflects the American constitutional tradition that everything is allowed until it is forbidden, against the Napoleonic tradition codifying what the state
    allows and banning everything else.”
    “Notwithstanding its knowledge of Europe’s extraterritorial activities,” warns Kogan, “the 110th US Congress may soon ratify the UN Law
    of the Sea Convention without all of its committees possessing oversight jurisdiction having first adequately reviewed in public hearings its 45-plus environmental regulatory articles — which also incorporate Europe’s Precautionary Principle! This would essentially open up the floodgates to a tsunami of costly non-science and non-economics-based environmental laws, regulations and standards that would abridge Americans’ Fifth Amendment rights, impair U.S. industry’s global economic competitiveness and fundamentally reshape the American legal and free enterprise systems.
    The Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development (ITSSD) is a non-partisan non-profit international legal research and educational organization that examines international law relating to trade, industry
    and positive sustainable development around the world. This ITSSD study and related materials are accessible online at: KOGAN – Discerning the Forest
    from the Trees.pdf, and


  2. Informed Lawyer says:

    One of the most blaring omissions in the statement coming from the US military in support of the UN Law of the Sea Convention is a thorough analysis of the treaty’s more than 45 environmental articles, regulations and protocols, and numerous other standards that could be used to diminish the military’s right to freedom of navigation/ innocent passage.
    In addition, recent reports have been released that reflect that the US military will be increasing its reliance on private contractors more than 50% during the next 5-10 years. The myriad activities of private contractors designing, formulating, producing, testing, delivering and deploying technologies for military application are highly unlikely to qualify for exemption as ‘military activities’ under the UNCLOS. The military brass is quite confident, at least publicly, about how they could unilaterally determine what is or is not a ‘military activity’ for purposes of qualifying for the treaty exemption. And, they believe that they could fit all such activities neatly under one ‘military activity’ tent. They are unlikely, however, to succeed in exempting their supply chains.
    Furthermore, the environmentally-obsessed EU member states have 27 votes for every 1 vote cast by the US at the UNCLOS Secretariat meetings, which the administration has been less than forthcoming in explaining.
    Lastly, there remains a quaint notion within US constitutional law which is commonly referred to as ‘due process’. In the context of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings that are now underway, this means transparency and a thorough publicly aired review. Unfortunately, this has not yet occurred considering that a number of house and senate committees possess oversight jurisdiction which they have yet to exercise to review the various dimensions of the UNCLOS that have not been considered in light of new international environmental law developments since the previous UNCLOS hearings. The American people are entitled to know from their elected representatives how this expansive treaty which will reach into US sovereign territory (land, internal waterways and air above) and into the US regulatory and free enterprise systems, will affect American pocketbooks, small businesses and daily lives.
    Mr. Bolton cannot be faulted for seeing the light. It is better later, then never.
    The ‘LOST 45’ UN Environmental Restrictions on US Sovereignty
    By J. William Middendorf II* and Lawrence A. Kogan**
    During the past six months, a number of former and current administration officials have declared their support for the UN Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), the largest environmental regulatory treaty in the history of the world. Based on their recommendations, President Bush, as did his predecessor, former President Clinton, agreed to resubmit the LOST to the US Senate once again for ratification.
    These officials, many of whom are giants in the conservative movement, have argued that LOST ratification would ensure America’s national security, economic and technological vitality and positive standing within the international community. Regrettably, these claims are very much overstated.
    Granted, US LOST ratification would signal our acceptance of long-established customary international freedom of navigation principles, as the US Navy and Coast Guard have asserted. However, the general rule of “freedom of navigation/innocent passage” which the administration relies upon as the chief justification for binding America to this treaty has, over time, been eroded and diminished in scope by the LOST’s more numerous environmental regulatory exceptions.
    While the LOST contains only two articles (38 and 87) that refer expressly to the right of “freedom of navigation” and ten articles (17, 19, 21-25, 45, 52 and 211) that refer expressly to the related right of “innocent passage”, there are at least 45 environmental articles in LOST Part XII, plus countless others in Parts V, VII, IX, XI, XII, and XIII and Annexes I and VIII that effectively limit those rights. In addition to these ‘LOST 45 plus’, there are also two recent International Seabed Authority environmental regulations and at least one entire environmental protocol related to the LOST (the LOST UN Migratory Fish Stocks Agreement) which European nations have already employed to create ‘marine protected areas’ that even further burden such rights. Collectively, these overwhelming environmental restrictions on American sovereignty obligate the US government and private US citizens to preserve and protect the ‘marine environment’ and its ‘living resources’ against all kinds of possible human-induced ‘pollution’. This includes pollution generated from water, land and air-based sources (e.g., carbon dioxide), even those located within US sovereign territory, that could directly or indirectly impact the global marine environment. In other words, US courts would be compelled to interpret these LOST 45 plus over our own environmental laws should the US ratify the LOST. Tragically, very few US lawmakers are familiar with these LOST provisions or their relationship to numerous other UN environmental treaties.
    Hence, following LOST ratification, US military and commercial shippers would no longer be able to rely on the right to freedom of navigation/innocent passage as an absolute right. Indeed, a growing number of foreign governments and commentators hostile to US interests have argued that, under LOST “the right of unlimited freedom of navigation” is subject to “the obligation to protect the [marine] environment”. This LOST reality was previously corroborated by the Clinton administration’s Oceans Report Task Force organized by former Vice President Al Gore. In light of the LOST’s failure to define exempt ‘military activities’, the 1999 report then warned that the domestic and international environmental obligations imposed by the LOST were being manipulated by foreign governments and environmental activists so as to “conflict [with] the US military’s ability to test, train, exercise, and operate in the marine environment”.
    These findings should come as no surprise to this administration. Thirty years prior, the “father of the [first] Law of the Sea Conference”, Malta’s former UN Ambassador Arvid Pardo, declared that, “the new law of the sea must be based no longer on the notion of ‘freedom of the seas’ but on a new concept, the Common Heritage of Mankind (CHM).” Thereafter, Tommy Koh, Singapore’s former UN Ambassador and President of the third Law of the Sea Conference, described the LOST as “a global constitution for [the world’s] oceans” drafted in the image of the UN charter.
    This administration, presumably, is also aware that CHM was originally a central planning (socialism)-based wealth redistribution mechanism rooted in the Cold War era. And, with a little homework, it should have discovered that, since 1994 (when former President Clinton submitted to the US Senate LOST amendments that allegedly addressed former President Reagan’s objections), CHM has evolved into a prominent instrument of ‘soft’ socialism within the European-dominated UN environment and sustainable development (UNEP/SD) programs. CHM now encompasses the legal obligation erges omnes – ‘of all to all’, which serves as the primary UNEP/SD rationale for the global governance of the earth’s biosphere. In the context of the LOST, CHM mandates the establishment of a UN-sanctioned global environmental conservation trust that would protect and preserve, through strict non-science and non-economics-based international and national regulations, all human use and exploitation of the oceans and its living and nonliving organisms.
    Consequently, following LOST ratification, US commercial businesses including the US military’s industrial and technology suppliers could no longer undertake design, manufacturing, processing, disposal and delivery activities within the US in reliance upon current US federal laws. This is especially true, now that President Bush has forwarded, once again, for Senate ratification four other related UN environmental treaties that would require yet further amendments to existing US federal chemicals legislation.
    More importantly, each of these other UN treaties contain the same non-science and non-economics-based European environmental legal principle embedded within the LOST 45 plus, which this president and his predecessor only barely succeeded in defeating at the World Trade Organization (WTO). That legal nostrum is the ‘standard-of-proof diminishing, burden of proof-reversing’, ‘guilty-until-proven-innocent’, ‘I fear, therefore I shall ban’ ‘hazard (not risk)-based’ Precautionary Principle (PP). Unfortunately, the LOST dispute settlement mechanism, with its emphasis on adjudicating environmental rather than trade issues, is unlikely to yield the same positive results as those the US secured at the WTO.
    In fact, US LOST ratification would provide other LOST treaty parties (especially those in Europe) with a greater ability to employ their unscientific PP to gradually undermine US military, economic and technological superiority. Such nations, for example, could more easily preclude the US military’s civilian technology and industrial supply chain from designing, producing and delivering effective technologies, products and processes that maintain US military preparedness. They also could disrupt US military logistics by relying upon environmental hazard rather than risk assessments to restrict the otherwise “innocent passage” of vessels operated by the US military’s many private shipping contractors. This is extremely likely to occur where US cargoes passing through navigational straits and territorial waters of other LOST parties include alleged ‘hazardous waste’ and/or ‘dangerous’ substances such as liquefied natural gas, oil, coal, chemicals, computers, electrical and electronic hardware, and perhaps, even genetically modified foods, feed and seed. And, such LOST parties could also cite the existence of hypothetical environmental hazards to limit, on PP grounds, the innocent passage of US nuclear-powered military vessels.
    The lack of truth and public transparency surrounding the LOST are hard to ignore. By ratifying the LOST, the US would unleash Europe’s PP and subject US military and economic sovereignty to eventual UN dominance and control. Therefore, the US Senate must publicly review the LOST’s largely hidden environmental regulatory agenda BEFORE it renders its advice and consent. Only by exposing the LOST’s deep dark caverns to the light of day in public hearings convened by the various congressional committees possessing oversight jurisdiction, as had recently occurred in connection with the illegal immigration bill, would the US be able to avoid such a disastrous outcome. Anything less would shortchange Americans and violate their cherished US constitutional right to due process.
    * Ambassador J. William Middendorf II previously served as US ambassador to the Netherlands, the European Union and the Organization of American States and as Secretary of the US Navy.
    ** Lawrence Kogan is president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development (ITSSD), a nonpartisan, nonprofit, international legal research and educational organization, and has advised the Bush administration concerning Europe’s use of the precautionary principle to dominate international economic affairs.


  3. Kathleen says:

    Walt, check out Lt. Ehren Watada’s father Robert’s Appeal to Congress on that right.


  4. Walt says:

    Under the UCMJ, service members are enjoined to -not- obey unlawful orders.
    That is about the only kind issued by the Bush Administration.


  5. Kathleen says:

    Bolton is a loud mouthed, back-stabbing bully. No wonder Busholini wanted him confirmed so badly. They’re a perfect match.
    Why is anyone still paying attention to his noises?


  6. Dogmatic Dingleberry says:

    That John ‘Elmer Fudd’ Bolton is so hysterically funny. Oh yes he is. Where else but in America could a man so inept and comprehensively stupid arise to the very heights of political power. Wait a minute, this just in…Karl Rove has retired from the inner sanctum of the White House. Regarding old Fudd Bolton, never mind!


  7. karenk says:

    I agree jonst, actions like this should be confronted right away and brought into the light. That person should’ve said, “I’m still here you sneaky, backstabbing SOB.” Hopefully then he’d feel like the dumb jerk he seems to be, from Steve’s description.


  8. Carroll says:

    My Hero: CENTCOM Commander, Admiral William Fallon
    ” An Apparent Readiness to put his Career on the Line to Prevent It. ”
    There have been some equally extraordinary reports about what appears to be the virtual refusal of senior military officials to permit a war with Iran.
    Several months ago, it was reported that the CENTCOM Commander, Admiral William Fallon, blocked what had appeared to be the successful efforts by Dick Cheney and administration neocons to send a third aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf and “vowed privately there would be no war against Iran as long as he was chief of CENTCOM”:
    “He asked why another aircraft carrier was needed in the Gulf and insisted there was no military requirement for it,” says the source, who obtained the gist of Fallon’s message from a Pentagon official who had read it.
    Fallon’s refusal to support a further naval buildup in the Gulf reflected his firm opposition to an attack on Iran and an apparent readiness to put his career on the line to prevent it. A source who met privately with Fallon around the time of his confirmation hearing and who insists on anonymity quoted Fallon as saying that an attack on Iran “will not happen on my watch”.
    The Washington Post’s Dana Priest, one of the country’s most knowledgeable and reliable reporters, made this rather extraordinary observation yesterday about the prospects that the Bush administration would bomb Iran:
    Dana Priest: Frankly, I think the military would revolt and there would be no pilots to fly those missions.
    Glenn Greenwald…..
    “For obvious reasons, it is not a positive development to have the U.S. military serve as the primary check on the crazed warmongers who have control of our government. In a country that lives under civilian rule, that really is not and should not be the role of the military. Priest’s claim that “the military would revolt” if it was ordered to bomb Iran is, at least in one sense, disturbing. ”
    I would rather live with a military revolt than under the Boltons and this cartoon congress.


  9. .... says:

    cheney must be paying him a lot for his services.. or is it aipac? they( cheney and aipac) seem almost interchangeable.


  10. jonst says:

    Steve wrote: “The person quickly hung up the call.”????
    THAT is how someone responds to comment about them like that? What kind of person was that?


  11. profmarcus says:

    there is one very key fact about john bolton that must not be overlooked or discounted in any way… that fact is that bolton continues to command media presence, podium space at important gatherings and forums, and still has a large influence on and a pipeline into the highest corridors of power… what that tells me is that the likes of bolton, kagan, kristol, podhoretz, etc., are every bit as much of the current policy-making faction of our executive branch as they would be if they held officially-appointed, senate-confirmed, senior administration positions… those people would not have access to such large megaphones were that not the case and were it not also being implicitly sanctioned by the white house… pretending that they do not speak in one voice with the elected powers-that-be is a serious denial of reality…


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