Throughout the Bolton battle, it’s never been clear exactly why Bush was so dead-set on having Bolton at the United Nations. He doesn’t believe in the institution, and clearly won’t be interested in “reform” — and Anne Patterson would have been much better suited to push through a real reform agenda. Bolton’s incapable of dealing with any of the crises that loom on the horizon. He can’t/won’t work with our allies on Iran or North Korea, and he’s got no credibility on Uzbekistan or any of the Cetnral Asian flareups. We’d be more likely to get international cooperation on Iraq with a horse’s head in Kofi Annan’s bed.
So the question remains: why? Is it as simple as stubbornness? Is it merely Cheney free-riding on Bush’s ability to abuse constitutional powers? Does Bush genuinely hold our allies in contempt? The Bush administration blew so much credibility and political capital on this appointment that there must be a serious reason, but no morally neutral rationale comes to mind. I’d love to hear people’s thoughts.
My best guess: the underlying intelligence scandals that led us into war are going to blow up in the next year, whether through the Fitzgerald investigation or something else. Bush wants to have a loyalist — someone he knows will always put loyalty to the Bush administration above the loyalty to the country — in place at the UN. Rice, who deserves some of the praise she’s gotten for her work at State, is nonetheless a loyalist above all:
At State Department headquarters, Rice, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick and a core group of a half-dozen senior aides swept aside Powell’s team and quickly exerted control of the bureaucracy. More policies are being run from Rice’s suite of offices on the seventh floor via “special assistants” and “special envoys.”
The arrival of many White House loyalists at State, including Bush adviser Karen Hughes, alarmed career employees. Rice’s tight-knit management style, emphasis on “message discipline” and warnings to end media leaks prompted speculation that she would fashion State into a political bullhorn for the White House.
Bush may be protecting himself; Bolton appears to be a big CYA. Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of our international credibility, our ability to effectively work with allies on national security issues, and the little remaining comity between the branches of our government and parties of our politics.
— Dave Meyer