There is so much out there now on John Bolton, and very little of it is positive and validating of Bolton, other than assertions by his fan club here and here.
Laura Rozen has done a great job of not only reporting Bolton Battle news but creating context to understand the issues. All of her material on Bolton is worth reading, but I particularly liked this recent commentary on Bolton’s failure to notify embassies and relevant “regional desks” in the State Department of his foreign travel and meetings.
It all goes to something one sees again and again with Bolton, and his supporters. Their sense that he and they are representing the real Bush administration foreign policy to places like Iran and North Korea, while everyone else at State was working against the President’s policies.
But that’s not how it works in an administration that has a strong sense of what the President’s policies are to places like Iran and North Korea. Bolton’s supporters, some of them anyhow, want Bolton to represent the real Bush foreign policy to Iran and North Korea, one that is uncompromising, that refuses to negotiate with dictators, that sees the real solution to those countries’ nuclear programs as being changing those countries’ leaders.
Advocating that inside and outside the bureaucracy is one thing; simply conducting one’s own foreign policy as if it were the President’s policy is another — as Bolton apparently was in the habit of doing.
The problem for Bolton and his supporters is that, at least up until this point, regime change in Iran and North Korea has not been the declared or explicit or clear policy President Bush has chosen.
And if and until he does so, you can’t have US officials running around on their own trying to make it so, by throwing a wrench in six party talks, or convincing European negotiators the Bush administration gives no credence to their negotiations with Tehran, and therefore making those delicate negotiations’ failure basically a kind of fait accompli.
The accounts coming out about Bolton every day do nothing so much as suggest the Bush administration is a ship that is basically unmoored and directionless on the most pressing foreign policy challenge this country faces, the threat of rogue state nuclear proliferation.
More later. Very pleased about the progress on NSA intercepts.
— Steve Clemons