Demetri Sevastopulo has a great article today in the Financial Times that gives just a quick “state of play” run-down on the Battle over Bolton. I recommend a full read of it.
The headline is wrong though. This is NOT the final battle over John Bolton today. If he squeaks out of Committee today — there is ample opportunity to continue to squeeze the White House on this wrong-headed decision. There will be holds, procedural delays, demands for more investigation by individual senators — and ALL of it will play out in the leading media (and blogs) of the country.
This battle is about the profile America cuts in its foreign policy and engagement in the world. If the White House wants to persist beyond rationality in its support of such a disagreeable character as John Bolton for the U.N. — then the price will be very, very high.
The White House — and particularly the Dick Cheney wing — will have to offend the sensibilities of moderates and explain why such a character was nominated — when others, like Paula Dobriansky, made so much more sense.
This from Demetri Sevatopulo’s piece today, just to remind that Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff has little regard for Mr. Bolton:
Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to Mr Powell, told committee staffers that numerous State Department employees had expressed consternation with Mr Bolton to the extent that they were considering leaving their posts at the State Department.
His comments appeared to support remarks from Carl Ford, the former head of the State Department’s bureau of intelligence and research, who said last month that Mr Bolton was a “serial abuser”.
“I think he’s a lousy leader,” Mr Wilkerson told the committee, according to a transcript obtained by the FT. Mr Bush has argued that Mr Bolton is the perfect candidate to encourage needed reforms at the institution.
Mr Wilkerson dismissed comments by supporters that Mr Bolton was “brilliant”, saying he was “a man who counted beans”, a reference to Mr Bolton’s attempts to get as many countries as possible to sign agreements that would exempt US nationals from being prosecuted in the International Criminal Court.
Mr Wilkerson added that Mr Bolton had “no willingness and in many cases no capacity to understand the other things that were happening around those beans. That is just a recipe for problems at the United Nations.”
Mr Wilkerson also confirmed that Mr Armitage had declared that all Mr Bolton’s speeches would have to be cleared by him, after Mr Bolton delivered a caustic speech in July 2003 that included more than 40 invidious references to Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader. Mr Powell and Mr Armitage were concerned that Mr Bolton was hampering US efforts to make progress with North Korea in the forthcoming six-party talks.
More on its way. Things are really hot now. One hour and eight minutes until the hearing starts.
— Steve Clemons