Let’s Hear that John Bolton Line Now: The Deaths of Innocent Lebanese Not Equivalent to the Deaths of Innocent Israelis


An Israeli air strike has killed 54 civilians — including 37 children. This after the strike against a UN observation facility where UN staff were killed — and also after hundreds and hundreds of other innocent Lebanese have been killed in the exchanges between Hezbollah and Israeli military forces.
Tension is heating up — finally — between American negotiators and Israeli, but this is long overdue.
But back to John Bolton, who was part of a UN Security Council statement today expressing “extreme shock and distress” over the killings.
At his Thursday Senate confirmation hearings, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee majority staff passed out Ambassador Bolton’s “official statement”. In that opening statement, there appeared a controversial and provocative sentence that asserted that Israelis and Lebanese who become innocent casualties in this war are not morally equivalent. His argument is that Israeli innoncents are more important than Lebanese innocent casualties because the Israelis were attacked by Hezbollah.
It was a shocking sentence, and the moment I saw it, I blogged about it directly from the Senate Hearing Room.
The sentence read:

But it is a mistake to ascribe a moral equivalence to civilians who die as the direct resulte of malicious terrorist acts, the very purpose of which are to kill civilians, and the tragic and unfortunate consequence of civilian deaths as a result of military action taken in self-defense.

Now, some have misunderstood what happened next. My surprise did not come when John Bolton read a script that was different than the one in hand. What happened was that just as John Bolton was beginning to read his statement, a new statement was distributed — with only this line of text removed.
That is important as it highlights something that the Department of State was not ready to clear — and shows something about John Bolton’s views and personality that State was not ready to sign off on.
After this huge tragedy today — 37 innocent children — in a crude aerial assault, does John Bolton stand by the statement he wanted to give?
Someone in the press ask him.
— Steve Clemons


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