Last Thursday, the former (and never confirmed) U.S Ambassador to the United Nations was wreaking havoc in London. In an interview with John Humphrys, host of the BBC's flagship radio show Today, Bolton boiled over like an unwatched tea kettle.
When Humphrys asked if the Bush administration was "busted flush" after Iraq, Bolton shot back, "You're absolutely wrong ... The people who express the point of view that you just expressed I think were largely anti-American beforehand anyway."
Humphrys, defending himself, said he was impartial but was just playing devil's advocate, saying, "Maybe they don't do it like that in the United States."
"I know. You're a superior Brit," Bolton said.
Humphrys asked if Bolton is World Bank chairman Paul Wolfowitz was "about to go" due to the scandal involving Wolfowitz giving his girlfriend a raise. "I see you're a gravedigger too," Bolton answered.
But perhaps Bolton's most outrageous moment came when he denied being a neoconservative. "I'm not a neocon, number one, but number two, I don't think the neocon adventure is over."
No. The neocon adventure isn't over as long as the likes of John Bolton are running loose.
For Bolton at this late stage in the neoconservative reign to deny that he was ever one himself is a sublime act of denial. His signature appeared on the Project for the New American Century's January 1998 that urged President Clinton to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Bolton also signed the May '98 PNAC letter to Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott that called for use of military force to oust Hussein. These days, having been shoved out of his U.N. Ambassador spot, Bolton is hanging his hat as a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the neoconservative think tank that was the parent organization to the PNAC.
According to the U.K. Telegraph, Bolton also "still has close links to the Bush administration," which goes a way in explaining what he was doing in Britain last week. Bolton told the Telegraph "that the European Union had to 'get more serious' about Iran and recognise that its diplomatic attempts to halt Iran's enrichment programme had failed."
Bolton said that Iran has "clearly mastered the enrichment technology now...they're not stopping, they're making progress and our time is limited." Bolton, a close ally of fellow AEI and PNAC member Dick Cheney, said the next step with Iran should be sanctions "with pain," followed by attempts to overthrow Iran's theocratic regime and eventually military strikes to destroy the country's nuclear facilities.
Bolton's remarks coincided with reports that the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency has determined that Iran is now capable of producing energy grade uranium. They also came shortly before an ABC News story that revealed Mr. Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that authorizes a CIA operation that reportedly includes a coordinated propaganda and disinformation campaign along with manipulation of Iran's currency and international monetary transactions.
And speaking of propaganda and disinformation campaigns: on Tuesday, May 22, Simon Tisdall of the U.K. Guardian filed a story titled "Iran's secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq."
Iran is secretly forging ties with al-Qaida elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces intended to tip a wavering U.S. Congress into voting for full military withdrawal, US officials say.
"Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq and it's a very dangerous course for them to be following. They are already committing daily acts of war against US and British forces," a senior US official in Baghdad warned. "They [Iran] are behind a lot of high-profile attacks meant to undermine US will and British will, such as the rocket attacks on Basra palace and the Green Zone [in Baghdad]. The attacks are directed by the Revolutionary Guard who are connected right to the top [of the Iranian government]."
This report, supported by claims of anonymous "U.S. officials," echoed similar claims made by similarly anonymous officials in January and February of 2007, claims that the mainstream media eventually dismissed as being unsubstantiated.
Interestingly enough, none of the U.S. mainstream news outlets picked up on the May 22 Guardian story, but within hours of its appearance on the web, the story had been reproduced or linked to by right wing media sources like Free Republic, Fox News, National Review Online and Drudge Report.
All this is coming out on the advent of ambassador level talks between the U.S. and Iran in Baghdad scheduled for May 28. Supposedly, these talks will only address the security situation in Iraq, and will not touch on Iran's nuclear program. It's difficult to imagine, though, that the diplomats involved will be able to cooperate on the Iraq issue in the context of the ongoing friction over the nuclear issue. Also keep in mind that while the Bush administration continues to refer to Iran's ambition to acquire nuclear weapons, Iran has long insisted that it only wants to develop an independent nuclear energy industry, an "inalienable right" guaranteed by the U.N. Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, a treaty signed and ratified by the United States.
During his tenure at the State Department and as Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton was to diplomacy what cheese is to healthy bowel functions. The last Congress finally flushed him out of the system, thanks largely to Lincoln Chaffee (R-Rhode Island) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
So what in the wide world of political arts and sciences was he doing in England, talking up the Cheney-centric neoconservative agenda? He has no portfolio or credentials. He almost certainly didn't make his trip to England on his own dime. Odds are that AEI floated the junket. AEI is a not-for-profit organization. That means AEI doesn't pay taxes on contributions given to it, and AEI contributors get tax breaks on money they contribute to AEI. That leaves AEI with all kinds of extra money to send people like John Bolton England to promote their private agendas and those of their contributors. Who picks up the difference in tax revenues? Peons like you and me, none of whom directly or indirectly (through the appointment/confirmation process) elected anybody at AEI shape or promote foreign policies that we clearly told our elected officials in November that we disagree with.
And who do you reckon made the call to send Bolton to England? I couldn't say for sure, but I'd bet you a happy hour cocktail that his initials stand for "Dick Cheney."
Related article: Cheney Attempting to Constrain Bush's Choices on Iran Conflict: Staff Engaged in Insubordination Against President Bush" by Steven C. Clemons of The Washington Note.