American National Security Worsened Under John Bolton’s Stewardship


Bob Boorstin and Andrew Grotto penned this interesting and important op-ed which appeared in the Baltimore Sun today. I have excerpted it and turned some of their material into key talking points.
From their piece:

Mr. Bolton’s failures directly concern what are the gravest threats to U.S. national security: nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists and the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran.
~ Fewer fissile materials were secured in the two years after 9/11 than in the two years before. The reasons for the dismal progress concern disputes with the Russians over legal liability, access to sensitive sites and bureaucratic red tape. As the lead U.S. diplomat on nonproliferation, it was Mr. Bolton’s job to clear these obstacles.
~ On [Bolton’s] watch, North Korea likely has produced enough weapons-usable plutonium to quadruple the suspected size of its nuclear arsenal. Mr. Bolton responded that concerns about the size of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal are “quibbling.” (The difference between North Korea having one or two nuclear weapons – which the CIA has suspected for a decade – and many more weapons is that North Korea could be tempted to sell the extra weapons for cash to terrorists or anyone else willing to pay.)
~ In the summer of 2003, [Bolton] seemed to prefer calling the North Koreans names rather than keeping his eye on the ball: that North Korea is bent on acquiring a sizable nuclear arsenal.
~ These rhetorical games gave North Korea the political pretext to draw out these already difficult negotiations and led North Korea to refuse to deal with Mr. Bolton, the senior U.S. diplomat on nuclear proliferation.
~ Three times during [Bolton’s] tenure as undersecretary, Tehran made secret overtures to the United States to resolve outstanding issues between the two countries, including Iran’s weapons programs. The administration declined to respond to them.
~ Instead, the only concrete proposal for peacefully resolving the impasse with Iran over its nuclear programs has been to haul it before the U.N. Security Council.
~ The proposal is puzzling, because China or Russia never would support tough measures against Iran because of their considerable economic interests there. Mr. Bolton must be aware of this, so he knows that the Security Council won’t act and is merely setting it up for failure.

That last point is fundamental. Bolton and his pals in the administration are not predisposed to be constructively engaged with United Nations reform.
Bolton is there to head a demolition team — using Iran as a way to blast apart the institution.
— Steve Clemons