Nuke ‘Em Now and Get It Over With: Curtis LeMay Lives on in John Bolton


The United States has had a long history of hawkishness in its foreign policy, but for the most part American hawks have been judicious ones who carefully weighed costs and opportunities. But then there is also a cast of characters in our history that can’t see the gray area between bombing and appeasement.
Famed Air Force General Curtis “Bombs Away” LeMay was one of these people who if left to his own devices would have triggered several nuclear exchanges.
Former US Ambassador to the UN and now chief critic of Bush administration foreign policy John Bolton is another of these sorts who seems obsessively driven with dragging America into war with North Korea and Iran.
In today’s Wall Street Journal, John Bolton savages President Bush’s diplomats and their work:

. . .Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill recently made a pilgrimage to Pyongyang where he said he was “buoyed by the sense that we are going to be able to achieve our full objectives.” Undoubtedly, North Korea was buoyed by the visit, which marked yet another administration retreat — this one from the position that such a trip was impossible before performance by the North.
This Pyongyang visit symbolizes the full return of Clinton-era, bilateral negotiations with North Korea, and their predominance over the Six-Party Talks.The Bush administration has effectively ended where North Korea policy is concerned, replaced for the next 18 months by a caretaker government of bureaucrats, technocrats and academics.
So complete was the transformation that putative Shadow Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke facilitated a number of Mr. Hill’s bilateral contacts with Pyongyang. Kim Jong Il will now, in all likelihood, further his slow roll, waiting for America’s 2008 elections, when the Clinton era may return de jure as well as de facto.
This is not a comment on partisan disagreements, but an important signpost that Bush’s clear determination in 2001 to follow a different course has disappeared, replaced with the same flawed conceptual framework that failed so badly in the 1990s. New failures lie ahead.

Applauding Japan’s right wing Prime Minister who is best known for engaging in a bizarre denial of Japan’s role in lining up “comfort women” to “service” its soldiers in World War II, Bolton writes:

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave voice to what a Bush administration would have done if it were still in power, saying, “We need to seek a harsh response from the international community.”

Japan has legitimate national security concerns about the almost predictable cycles of bad behavior by North Korea, but for Bolton to so seriously malign the “President he served” to paraphrase White House Spokesman Tony Snow shows what Bolton always was more interested in war in the case of North Korea and Iran than achieving results in the interests of the US and other parties.
Bolton has about zero sense of the harm that he and other Cheneyites have done to America’s ability to secure our national security objectives. I wonder if the thought had ever occurred to him that when American power was benchmarked at higher levels than is the case today — the U.S. botched arrangements that would have precluded North Korea’s reprocessing program and walked away from a US-Iran normalization opportunity that we would have had great leverage in sculpting and enforcing.
Today, America is perceived to be in a weaker position — and now in that weaker position — the Bush crowd seems to be more open to serious, thoughtful, interest-driven dealmaking. Just think about what could have been accomplished if this same disposition had been in place when Bush and America were higher in the saddle.
Bolton, Cheney, and their fellow travelers harmed this nation and its global position and should be paying a higher price for the mistakes they have made than they are.
— Steve Clemons


14 comments on “Nuke ‘Em Now and Get It Over With: Curtis LeMay Lives on in John Bolton

  1. Sandy says:

    Like you, Kathleen, when I see these big color photos — head shots no less — of these criminals….my skin just crawls!
    I would rather forget — him….all of them!


  2. Kathleen says:

    Peter Fenn…. ditto and then some. John Bolton is a fossil… his brain is ossifying… send him off to some dusty museum for outdated mental abbrerations… anything…. just get his bonehead out of my face, already.


  3. Sandy says:

    Wow, Peter Fenn, I couldn’t have said it better — or more concisely — myself! Exactly!


  4. Peter Fenn says:

    Cheney & Rumsfeld are all about amassing fortune for themselves and their “Friends” (we know who they are) To this end they have played three large and powerful entities: the President of the United States, the Republican right wing base (and Jesus) and the Jewish neocons. This is not incompetence, this is evil and greed-driven manipulative genius at work. It is also high treason and grand theft.


  5. PeterE says:

    You write, “Bolton, Cheney, and their fellow travelers harmed this nation and its global position and should be paying a higher price for the mistakes they have made than they are”. Are you expressing moral indignation or wonder (as in “The earthquake should have toppled that building”)? I don’t think wonder is in order. The wonder is that at midsummer, we have yet to bomb Iran, and Mr.Cheney and his friends are encountering roadblocks.
    Mr.Bolton seems to have gone wobbly, but I bet that Mr.Cheney and most of his friends believe they can circumvent the roadblocks. If they believe that, do you think they are right?


  6. JonU says:

    Bolton’s arguments are the stuff of madness, when you compare them to those consisting objective analysis and rational thought. It’s strange that high-profile media outlets continue to give him such prominent soapboxes to display this literal insanity of purpose.
    I ask again, and as always in in these situations: What are his credentials? What has he done, what great intellect has he displayed, that his words are given such weight? And by extention, what has the neoconservative movement done, what great display of insight and intellect have they given us, that they continue to be taken seriously by ANYONE on the left or right.
    They have been consistently wrong about everything, with tragic and disasterous consequences for everyone else.


  7. Robert M. says:

    As always keep up the Good Work — in preparation for the next admin.
    However, paying the price? Not until Republicans like HAGEL and LUGAR say enough is enough & go to Mitch McConnel and tell him they are now ready to publicly announce support for impeachment of C/B–and will lobby other Republican senators on the matter. The only way for McConnel to get through to the WH Staff is to confirm that with X number of Republican defectos, there are enough votes to convict and its time for Cheney to go–if GWB doesn’t also want himself booted.
    Even then that won’t really bring them to book, not while Bush can commute & pardon his satraps & grand vizier to his heart’s content.
    Apparently, a legitimate constitutional power can indeed be used to obstruct justice!–if the person with that power is a crook himself.
    So its PAST TIME for all thos Republican elders who are semi-correct on foreign crises matters to Do the Right Thing on the domestic crisis–a president who has made himself illegitimate by his own actions in using legal means for corrupt ends.


  8. jon says:

    ‘Achieving our objectives in full’? That’s powerful stuff you’ve been smoking! Must be that new batch of Afghani you’ve cut with good ‘ol Murricun meth! Or maybe that’s just the moustache talking…
    After 6 years of negotiation with the DPRK we have what we had when Clinton left office. Except for, oh yeah, they now have nuclear weapons! If rational professionals had been managing US foreign policy, we could have continued what Clinton had put into place. But Bush had to show off and yank Kim’s chain.
    Heckuva a job there.
    What exactly are the other splendid accomplishments we’ve been rolling up? I’ll wait, no problem. Maybe the deal we don’t have with India to legitimize their violation of the NPT?
    To suggest that the fact that US foreign policy does not, today, function as a continuing act of insanity and self destruction does not precisely make it into a shining accomplishment. Better, yes. Hopeful, maybe. Out of the woods? Not by a long shot.
    Let’s take a look at Putin’s riposte to Bush’s Chzeckoslovakia anti-missle play. Putin’s playing a game of chess at least 8 levels deep. Bush is playing checkers, no he’s banging the box of checkers against a rock!
    The idea that by putting out one (pretty serious) fire, we are once again unbound in our policy and capability is ludicrous. It will take decades to repair the damage already done. The trust we have squandered will be very expensive to regain. Neck rubs aren’t going to cut it any more.


  9. David N says:

    I have only one thing to say:
    Stop talking about this man!!! Stoy giving the slightest attention or credibility to these criminal bullies. All they want to get out of this is money and attention gives them the ability to get their blood money.
    Bolton’s ideas are criminally stupid. He is a pathetic, disgusting little man. Stop posting on him, stop talking about him, stop reading anything he writes, the only attention that needs to be paid is to notify any newspaper or magazine that publishes his filthy little lies that they are being traitors and that we will cancel our subscriptions to their fascist rags.
    Or is that putting it too strongly?


  10. DonMidwest says:

    Don’t trust these folks. They are above the law. It may look like they might do something OK in foreign policy, but the group that trashed the constitution and has only one domestic weapon, fear, can not be trusted with anything. I know your rub shoulders with these folks in DC, but look what happened to Colin Powell. Cheney pulls all the strings. He is pushing for a war with Iran and all the diplomatic efforts will be off the table as they use fear and war to attempt to keep their power in DC.
    They must be stopped.


  11. Sandy says:

    No, Steve, not the MSM or Fox News….but HOW CAN you say??:
    “…Today, America is perceived to be in a weaker position — and now in that weaker position — the Bush crowd seems to be more open to serious, thoughtful, interest-driven dealmaking. Just think about what could have been accomplished if this same disposition had been in place when Bush and America were higher in the saddle….” ???
    America is PERCEIVED to be in a weaker position??? You don’t KNOW that we ARE in a weaker position? You are right THERE…in Washington, D.C. Are you TOO CLOSE to it?
    “The Bush crowd seems to be more open to serious, thoughtful..”.etc. WHO? The Burns guy you had to dinner? He gave you that line? You BOUGHT that? With all due respect, Steve…..and I DO have respect for you and what you are trying to do. God knows *I* could never do what it takes to deal with these people day after day!
    However…..please….please….please… NOT bury your head in the sand! Do not PRETEND to yourself there is ANY “hope” to be found in this administration! Good Grief! What will it TAKE to convince you?
    Do you ever read what any of us posts here in the way of comments? Do you see any pattern to the threads? Insofar as informed opinion….and FACTS….that is?
    PLEASE….if you do read any….read this one:
    This is a SERIOUS situation for this country.
    Please be serious!


  12. Caitlyn says:

    A “caretaker government of bureaucrats, technocrats and academics” seems like a great step forward from what we have had since 2001 in regards to North Korean policy.


  13. Steve Clemons says:

    easy e — i appreciate your passion, but it’s silly to compare twn to fox news. best,
    steve clemons


  14. easy e says:

    People of influence, institutions, beltway elite, etc., who continue to reject the notion of impeachment (Cheney or Cheney/Bush) are directly or indirectly COMPLICIT in the crimes that have occurred by this administration.
    That puts TWN in the same company as the MSM, including Fox News.


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