John Bolton: A Man Apart…from the Neo-Cons


While former Ambassador John Bolton aided and abetted neo-con inspired foreign policy efforts while serving in the administration, as Steve Clemons has pointed out in the past Bolton is mistakenly lumped into the tribe of neo-conservatives. Clemons has described him as a Helmsian pugnacious nationalist, apart from Elliott Abrams and others, and Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times has recently come to the same conclusion:

The first thing that struck me is that it is a mistake to call Bolton a neo-con. He is an American nationalist, who is interested in power – and has none of the neo-con interest in namby-pamby concepts like human rights and democratisation. His take on Iraq is that America had accomplished its mission, the moment Saddam Hussein was killed. All attempts at “nation-building” were futile and counter-productive. Bolton is not in favour of a rapid American withdrawal from Iraq. But his reasons are purely strategic. He wants to block the rising power of Iran. And he is pretty openly in favour of bombing Iranian nuclear facilities.
By contrast, Bolton is opposed to humanitarian intervention in Darfur – let alone, Zimbabwe. The reason is simple. There is no American national interest at stake.

While it is at least conceivable that neo-cons might be brought around to constructive foreign policy engagements through a re-appropriation and re-deployment of their own rhetoric on democratization and ostensible support for human rights (though they have thus far disavowed the consequences that can accompony such moral campaigns), it is evident from Clemons’s and Rachman’s assessments that Bolton cares little for such moral crusades that depart from his narrow notion of US interests.
A more nuanced understanding of Bolton would have been useful back in early 2006 when Bolton was tasked with negotiating the Human Rights Council and then opposed it with the backing of some surprising allies (see here, here, and here). While the Human Rights Council may have fallen short of our expectations, because of the conflation of Bolton with neo-con conceits of human rights, only a few were able to discern that the fault lay in Bolton’s disingenuous negotiations and his attempt to effectively undermine a deal in the first place.
–Sameer Lalwani


8 comments on “John Bolton: A Man Apart…from the Neo-Cons

  1. Kathleen says:

    It’s time we forced NeoNutzis to explain what our “national interests” are, according to them. Then we can see that they confuse their own personal wealth and power with what’s in our interests as a whole.
    National interests is a handy catch-all phrase that masks grotesque greed, selfishness and a downright stingy lack of “Christian” charity or concern for the human rights of anyone not in the NeoNutzi circle, and makes it sound noble.


  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gads, no wonder this country is going down the tubes. Why in God’s name do they call these institutions “Think Tanks” when their members seem incapable of thought?


  3. Llyonnoc says:

    Sameer: You should think before you write. Bolton is not an American nationalist. He is smack dab in the middle of the camp of the neo-cons. There is no American interest in going to war with Iran. There is no American interest in staying the course in Iraq.
    Also Gideon Rachman’s suggestion that the neo-cons are interested in human rights is laughable unless you deem the Iraqis and Iranians to be other than human.
    You should get away from nuances and look facts straight in the face. Bolter epitomize neo-conism, which places the center of American interest in Jerusalem.


  4. Kathleen says:

    John Bolton is a narcissistic reactionary with an exaggerated sense of entitlement re US “interests”.
    I place no value in the editorial opinion of the NYT since their romance with Judith Miller and her dangerous fictions. Nor do I value the opinion of anyone working with Newt the Brewt and those whose true aims are to demolish the UN.
    I disagree that the former UN Commission for Human Rights was “discredited”. They had the gaul to criticize Israel and continue to pass resolutions condemning them.
    As for the claim that human rights abusers shouldn’t have a seat on the New Human Rights Council, that would leave a lot of countries out of the loop, including the US which itself is guilty of genocide against our Native Americans. It’s much better to have dialogue with those countries currently violating human rights.
    The UN Charter prohibits member states from making false representations to them. That should disqualify the US, for starters. We out and out lied to the UN about WMD’s in Iraq and tried to unseat ElBaradei for telling the truth. Why would anyone listen to those who helped create the deception?
    The US is a disgraceful, self-centered, bully and Revoltin Bolton is the personification of that overblown, ill-founded sense of self-importance. I’m glad to see the UN thumbing its nose to us for a change. It’s what we deserve.


  5. ... says:

    STEVE, it has been pointed out to you the influence of israel on the usa but you have been very calculated in not responding to any of it.. why is that???


  6. ManagedChaos says:

    Here is an example of a pure “American Nationalist”…Bolton is warmongering traitor.
    SCHEUER: I – I hope Israel flourishes. I just don’t think it’s worth an American life or an American dollar. [scattered applause followed by scattered boos]
    MAHER: You don’t – you don’t think the existence of Israel in the world is worth an American life or an American dollar?
    SCHEUER: Not only Israel, sir, but Saudi Arabia or Kuwait or Bolivia. I’m much more—
    MAHER: [overlapping] You’re really – you’re really not telling me that Israel is on a par with Saudi Arabia.
    SCHEUER: I’m telling you – what I’m telling you, sir, is I’m most interested in the survival of the United States. [applause]
    MAHER: But Israel is a democracy in a part of the world that has none.
    SCHEUER: What – so what, sir? It doesn’t matter to Americans if anyone ever votes again. [audience reacts]
    MAHER: [overlapping] It doesn’t—
    SCHEUER: [overlapping] You know, we’ll get by – we’ll get by just fine, sir.
    MAHER: I wouldn’t. [applause] I wouldn’t get by just fine. So you’re saying like back in 1973, when Israel’s very existence was threatened in the Yom Kippur War, and we did come to their aid, we shouldn’t have done that, and we shouldn’t do it again?
    SCHEUER: What I’m saying, sir, is we should have revisited the situation after 1973, and not be the unqualified, sole supporter of Israel at the moment. I think it earns America tremendous pain and, increasingly, dead Americans fighting wars that are not ours to fight. [applause]


  7. Carroll says:

    If Bolton is a pure “American nationalist” how do you account for his insane statements on Israel, insane posturing on Isreal and insane defense of Israel, a foreign country, the neo’s statment that Israel has no better friend than Bolton?
    A pure American nationalist knows that Israel is of no benefit to the US.
    So is he just using the Israel angle to garner support for unlimited war from the Israeli neophobes?
    A pure American nationalist knows that a war with Iran is not to our national benefit.
    Elaborate please on how Bolton is a American nationalist and not just your run of mill psycho neo in league with your run of the mill Isaeli psychos.


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