FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bolton the Eavesdropper

As Undersecretary of State for Arms Control, John Bolton didn’t like what he heard from U.S. intelligence officials. Not happy with the information provided by the State Department and CIA, Bolton started listening to phone conversations taped by the National Security Administration as his own source of intelligence about countries targeted by the Bush administration for “regime change.”

Gov. Bill Richardson, who served as U.N. ambassador during the Clinton administration, is concerned that Bolton, who is the Bush administration’s controversial nominee for the U.N. post, might have been listening to his phone conversations.

During the Senate confirmation hearings last week, Bolton admitted he requested NSA recordings “on a couple of occasions, maybe a few more.” Later the State Department said Bolton made ten such requests.

Despite rising pressure from Senate Democrats and the media, the administration has refused to release any more information. Administration stonewalling raised speculation that any disclosure of the number of requests and the names involved – possibly including Richardson’s – might further tarnish Bolton’s reputation and sink the nomination.

Bolton obviously has a listening problem. Even after the CIA and State Department officials told Bolton that Syria didn’t have a nuclear weapons program and that Cuba didn’t have a bioweapons program, Bolton publicly targeted the two nations for “regime change” because of alleged banned weapons.

Instead of being reprimanded for spreading false intelligence, President Bush has vigorously defended Bolton. That’s no surprise, given that the White House invaded Iraq based upon cooked-up, politicized intelligence about Iraq’s banned weapons – which were never found.

In the view of Bolton and the leading voices calling for a U.S. policy of “regime change” in North Korea, such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Project for the New American Century – two neoconservative institutes where Bolton formerly had leadership positions – diplomacy and dialogue only give Kim Jong Il more time to build his nuclear arsenal.

Bolton’s confrontational posture – combined with the administration’s quickening plans to attack Iraq – led North Korea to pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, announce that it would resume developing nuclear weapons and demand that U.N. inspectors leave the country.

Given that the Bush administration had targeted it as part of the “axis of evil” along with Iraq and Iran, North Korea decided that creating a nuclear deterrence was its best defense against a “preventive war” waged by the Bush administration.

Before they precipitate more unnecessary wars, it’s time that ideologues like Bolton listen to what wiser voices are saying. But rather than listening in on private conversations of prominent Americans, such as Richardson, Bolton would do better to ask his advice.

After all, Richardson has successfully negotiated several agreements with the North Koreans when he was a New Mexico congressman and proved his mettle as U.N. ambassador in helping arrange the successful framework agreement with North Korea.

But it’s not just the famous “green chile diplomacy” of Richardson that should be the model for Bolton and this administration. Surely, a policy of “constructive engagement” that encourages North Korean diplomats to come to Santa Fe to talk to nonideological figures like Richardson is better than having the two nuclear powers engage in a battle of insults.

Bolton has repeatedly called for the overthrow of the “tyrannical dictator,” and North Koreans have responded saying they would never engage in talks with “such human scum” as Bolton. Having the North Korea delegation come to New Mexico and come out of Santa Fe shops wearing cowboy hats, sporting bola ties and strutting in cowboy boots, pointed to the virtues of constructive engagement.

Fortunately, senators of both parties are no longer listening passively to the hyped intelligence assessments provided by Bolton and other hard-liners. They would do better to listen to diplomats, with successful track records like Richardson, to South Korea’s concerns and advice and our own State Department and CIA experts.

Former Republican Sen. Jesse Helms once called Bolton “the kind of man I would want to stand with at Armageddon.”

The problem is that ideologues like Bolton look forward to Armageddon as a test of U.S. military power and purpose, and in the belief that Armageddon is a battle that can be won – supposedly like Iraq – in “cake walk.”

TOM BARRY is policy director of the International Relations Center (IRC).

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Tom Barry directs the Transborder Program at the Center for International Policy and is a contributor to the Americas Program www.cipamericas.org.

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail