John Bolton: “I Understand What the Chain of Command Is. . .”


Mark Goldberg posted this today:

Hopefully, Feingold won’t wait until the confirmation hearing to make up his mind, for Bolton is likely to undergo another “confirmation conversion” (as John Kerry labeled Bolton’s 2001 testimony), whereby Bolton repudiates incendiary comments which he previously hurled at various American presidents, U.S. policies, foreign leaders, and international institutions.
In one example of this phenomenon, Kerry took Bolton to task for characterizing the Agreed Framework for North Korea as “egregiously wrong,” and arguing in an op-ed that one aspect of that policy amounted to “appeasement.” As Kerry pointed out, this position would have put him at odds with his bosses, President George W. Bush and Colin Powell, who at the time supported the Agreed Framework.
Not about to be placed in such an awkward spot, Bolton replied:
The secretary and the president have said that the United States supports the agreed framework, and I will adhere to that policy. I understand what intellectual integrity is. I understand what the chain of command is. I understand what loyalty is. And I don’t think those three things are at all necessarily inconsistent.
Of course, Bolton doesn’t have anything near a blank slate when it comes to his views on the utility of the United Nations or even the existence of international law. One hopes that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will not let him escape from his past as he assures the committee of his intentions to reform the UN. He’s no UN reformer. But as the U.S. ambassador there he’ll surely be a fifth column.

I guess what Bolton is saying is that after years of opposing the notion of the idea of the United Nations, of arguing that America ought to be the only power in the Security Council, and that no one would notice if ten stories were taken out of the UN Secretariat building — that in fact he’ll be a constructive player in the U.N. reform effort.
Why hold confirmation hearings at all if past deeds and comments made little difference? Luckily, they do make a difference.
There is new muscle that has come on board to support the Bolton nomination, and these are people who perceive John Bolton to be their deliverer of a “United Nations-Free America.”
Move America Forward has started an email and letter campaign to support Bolton — but on the same site they have a logo and campaign to “Get the UN Out of the US
I think that Bolton may not admit much affection for this anti-UN crowd, but their support for him is based on his past commentary and behavior. Our resistance to Bolton is based on the same exact material (w/the exception of the recent ethics stuff of course, which really should tip the scale our way).
If President Bush wants to send a credible UN-skeptic who nonetheless is going to be a partner in reforming a new United Nations, then the President’s choice should actually anger the anti-UN, Move America Forward crowd — not make them happy.
That is the litmus test of the right Ambassador to send.
— Steve Clemons