John Bolton refused to live by the rules that other diplomats, career and non-career, had to live by working at the State Department. Bolton is being irresponsibly rewarded by President Bush and Dick Cheney for violating every rule in the book when it came to serving the U.S. national interest as articulated at various respective times by his boss, Colin Powell, and his even bigger boss, George Bush.
The fact that Bush himself refuses to recognize this or values a perverse type of private loyalty to Bush and Cheney over a more honorable and distinguished type of public loyalty to the foreign policy vision of the President of the United States and Secretary of State does not excuse the error here.
Douglas Jehl has a piece adding even more color to Bolton’s genetic predisposition to undermine his State Department colleagues and their operations:
As under secretary of state, John Bolton routinely arranged meetings with Israeli, Russian, British and French officials without first notifying the State Department offices responsible for relations with those countries, according to three former department officials.
The officials described the practice by Bolton, who has been nominated to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as unusual and a violation of department procedures.
On at least one occasion, the officials said, Elizabeth Jones, then assistant secretary of state for European affairs, confronted Bolton to complain about meetings in Moscow that Bolton had sought with Russian officials without clearance from the European bureau.
Some meetings that Bolton held in Israel, including those with officials of Mossad, the foreign intelligence service, also prompted complaints in the State Department from the bureau of Near Eastern affairs, the officials said.
Bolton traveled overseas widely during his tenure but often ignored a requirement that he seek “country clearance” from the U.S. Embassy involved, the officials said.
The episodes were described by former State Department officials with direct knowledge of the events. They said they regarded the episodes as notable because they reflected Bolton’s practice of acting unilaterally, even in sensitive diplomatic areas in which it was important that U.S. policy be coordinated.
The staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to ask questions about the episodes as it begins a new round of interviews about Bolton, whose nomination has caused unease, even among Republicans on the committee.
John Wolf, a former assistant secretary of state who traveled with Bolton on some of the trips, is among about two dozen people scheduled to be interviewed by the panel in coming days.
The Bolton File thickens by the day.
Every Republican and Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — every one of them — will have to say that none of this mattered if he or she casts a vote in favor of Bolton’s nomination.
And that vote will have significant political consequence for them. This is the degree to which the White House seems willing to abuse their erstwhile Republican allies in the Senate.
More to come.
— Steve Clemons