Robert Wright: Just Bolton Being Bolton

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For those of you who feared that Steve’s absence would mean a whole week without any references to John Bolton, I bring good news. I have a conjecture about Bolton’s role in recent events that, if correct, makes me slightly – if only slightly – more optimistic about the prospects that last week’s Condi Rice initiative on Iran will bear fruit.
According to the Washington Post’s reconstruction of events leading up to that initiative, Bolton was kept in the dark about it until last Tuesday, shortly before its unveiling, when he “was asked to call conservative commentators the next day to explain the decision.” The “next day” was the day that David Brooks would have been writing his column for Thursday’s New York Times. The column he wrote is clearly informed by at least one source inside the administration, and I sure hope it was Bolton.
Why? Brooks basically presents the initiative as one that was designed to be rejected by Iran, after which multilateral sanctions could be imposed. (“There are no optimists in this administration about the prospects for diplomacy.”) If that’s just John Bolton talking, then maybe it’s wishful thinking on his part; maybe Rice and even Bush are in fact earnestly trying to draw Iran into fruitful dialogue.
Admittedly, there’s evidence that this wasn’t just Bolton talking. Brooks’s flattery of (“gutsy”) Rice sounds like payback for her spending some phone time with him. But we can always hope…
More on Iran later today. Meanwhile, if you prefer video to print, you can watch me do this Brooks-Bolton exegesis on my web site bloggingheads.tv in a diavlog with Mickey Kaus that was posted a few hours ago.
–Robert Wright

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