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February 04, 2010

John Bolton Offers His Advice on Iran and North Korea
Posted by David Shorr

In a piece in the Weekly Standard, John Bolton tells us how he really feels about the administration's nonproliferation policy. As always, the argument doesn't offer much more than the self-gratification of ostentatious toughness. Certainly no practical plan that shows any plausible pathway to deal with the proliferators -- a complaint with hardliners that was expressed brilliantly (with exasperation and profanity) in 2005 by Robert Gallucci in The Atlantic Monthly's gaming exercise on North Korea. As Amb. Gallucci said, the right wing is really big on slamming diplomacy and arms control. When it comes to offering plausible policy alternatives? Not so much.

In fact, reducing our nuclear -arsenal will not somehow persuade Iran and North Korea to alter their behavior or encourage others to apply more pressure on them to do so.

And how, exactly, did bluster and refusal to negotiate affect Iranian and North Korean behavior? I suppose there's a small victory contained within the above passage. Bolton at least acknowledged the current policy's aim to build a unified international front of pressure on the proliferators, tacking it onto the straw man idea of pure moral suasion.

Then there's this tidbit, which is more revealing with regard to Bolton's position, than the administration's:

Obama’s insistence that the evil-doers are “violating international agreements” is also startling, as if this were of equal importance with the proliferation itself. 

For a guy who complains about "disdain for the decades of strategic thinking," Amb. Bolton is awfully cavalier about the NPT's 40-year old norm against proliferation. At any rate, this may be one of the clearest expressions ever that the far-right believes internationally agreed norms have no value in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to more nations and regions.


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The Democrats need to point out that during the last thirty years of essentially Republican rule this country has gotten a lot weaker economically and upward mobility has shifted downward.

Sorry the previous comment was meant for Michael Cohen's post.

I would like to say its great advice given by him.John Bolton did indeed damage Israel’s Prime Minister and Israel’s security—not to mention American interests—but not in his kiss and tell interviews with the Israeli press or his bitter speech in Herzliya—the damage was done when Bolton had power as Ambassador, and used it to help prolong a disastrous war.

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