Thursday, April 28, 2005

What's up with Bolton?

Colin Powell doesn't believe in Bolton for US Ambassador to the UN and he has been quietly telling whoever wants to listen. Regardless of what one thinks personally of Bolton, one must acknowledge that there are legitimate questions about his history, specifically with regards to his strong anti-UN sentiments.

What is it about John Bolton that makes him such an important candidate? I would think that he isn't worth the trouble or the cost in political capital for Bush, et al to get him confirmed over the objections of the Senate Democrats and some moderate Republicans.

That Colin Powell feels he is the wrong choice holds extra weight for me. Does Colin Powell command respect within conservative military circles? Does his opinion on Bolton influence your opinion in any way?

DadManly Response #1 (I think we'll go a few rounds on this one):

As we start, I want to offer a "standing caveat" to anything I say that anyone takes as "representative" of all soldiers or military service members generally. For the most part, soldiers are trained first and foremost to obey orders, to do what they're told. That doesn't mean they don't have opinions -- soldier "gripes" are as old as humanity, and often about food or women (and now, men). So there is what we might consider a "silent minority" of soldiers who really just want to do their jobs and don't really think about this stuff.

Having said that, almost no one in the U.S. military wants to think about being under the authority of the U.N. (although we've been just that on several U.N. Peacekeeping Missions). The United Nations includes a whole bunch of countries who hate us, are jealous of us, struggle overtly or covertly against us, and these are our friends. I would say that the military is mostly negative about the U.N.; we know it doesn't prevent wars or genocide, and those of us familiar with its weaknesses are convinced it often does more harm than good.

So being a strong critic of the U.N. wouldn't bother many in the military, many of us are strong critics as well! As to Colin Powell, he is not as strongly admired in the military as you might think. Wiser and more politically savvy commentators have suggested Powell "went native" in the State Department, adapting to that organization, its conceits, prejudices, and blind spots. The U.S. Military has a long history of having to clean up what Diplomats create in the naive hope that talk talk talk beats fight fight fight.

The greatest evils of the 20th and 21st Centuries -- Fascism, Communism, and State Sponsored and non-State initiated Terrorism -- grew despite the U.N., and in some ways abetted by the U.N.

One last point. Loyalty means more to a soldier than anything. The man or woman next to you may knowingly sacrifice his or her life for you. They got your back. When the going gets rough, you need to be able to trust that soldier next to you, that he or she won't run away or pull his or her own weight. What Powell is notorious for, is departmental infighting, manipulation between departments, chronic leaking to the press. In other words, actively working against the interests of the current administration or other departments or personalities. This would be viewed as supremely disloyal. Powell is to serve the President, but it often seemed that he first served his own or his department's ends.

And Department of State has an abysmal record in terms of analysis, strategy and approach, foresight, and cost benefit analysis. Through the Cold War, Korea, the fall of the Shah, the emergence of democracy in Central America, Israel and Palestine, the Middle East in general, State has called more outcomes wrong than right. State ineptitude has often made matters go from bad to worse.

Honestly? Most military have no idea who Bolton is. That he might be a hard charger, sometimes brisque, direct and somewhat abrasive? That makes him sound like a former military man.


At 9:43 PM, Blogger thewiz said...

I was very interested in hearing your opinions of Powell. I too felt he "went natve." He seems to be a classic man that has seen too much war and would do anything to avoid it. Understandable but potentailly costly. He also has way too much faith in the ability to negotiate with tyrants that thrive on gamesmanship.

He failed to get Turkey on board which is the root of much of our current problems. He also quickly caved to the UN after the war, allowing them to screw things up.

Powell never really believed that replacing SoDamn Insane with a democratic gov would spread throughout the ME and thus didn't fight hard . Powell is a brillant and classy guy but was not the Statesman we needed at the time.

At 4:02 PM, Blogger RepubAnon said...

Seems pretty obvious that John Bolton's promotion is repayment for his role in cooking up biased pre-war Iraq WMD intelligence. Thanks to the leaked British memo from Sir John Dearlove, we now know President Bush had decided to invade Iraq by the summer of 2002 - and that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy..." We also know John Bolton was one of the preferred conduits for "stovepiped" intelligence from Doug Feith's Office of Special Plans. Considerable evidence exists regarding Mr. Bolton's repeated browbeating of intelligence analysts that refused to go along with distorting intelligence. Promotion to UN Ambassador sounds like a good reward for Mr. Bolton's services in the rush to the Iraq War.

I note "thewiz" feels Mr. Powell "went native" and "failed to get Turkey on board" for the Iraq war. There are significant questions as to whether the Iraq War was illegal under international law, as noted in the British Solicitor General's 2002 report. Turkey didn't come in because of numerous issues like the Kurdish/Turkish tensions - tensions that may still spill over into war.

Mr. Powell correctly noted that "you break it, you own it" applied to the Iraq invasion. His "Powell doctrine" would have meant going in with much greater force and more international support.

Compare and contrast to the results under Donald Rumsfeld's then-untested "minimal force" theory. Mr. Rumsfeld's "Democracy is messy" comment dismissing the post-invasion violence as transitory rather than the start of ongoing bloodshed proves to me that Colin Powell was the stateman we needed at the time, while Mssrs. Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith and Bolton put us $200 billion in the hole with no end in sight, and pro-democratic forces in Iran losing out to nationalistic mullahs.

We didn't listen to Mr. Powell before. The result was a broken Iraq where terrorists armed with explosives looted from unguarded Saddam-era weapons depots, WMD technology shipped to Iran as scrap, an overextended US military encouraging Iran and North Korea to thumb their noses at us, a bankrupt US living day-to-day on money borrowed largely from China, and zero investment in much-needed port security.

I respectfully suggest we should listen to Mr. Powell this time.

At 1:38 AM, Blogger dadmanly said...

Repubanon makes a giant leap from the allegations actually made against Bolton and how this fits into his preconceived conspiracy yarn.

Talk about revisionist history, this is staggering in proportion. Now Bolton was an architect of cooked intelligence? My, his influence must have been staggering.

He managed to convince the intelligence services of the western world, including France, Germany, U.K., etc., as well as Democrats sufficiently alarmed over the WMD threat posed by Saddam: Bill Clinton and his entire National Security Team up until the moment they were out of power, Armed Services committee members of both parties, even John Kerry.

You need to stop rewriting history to fit your script. No one fundamentally disputed the accepted facts at hand prior to the invasion of Iraq, just whether that was the correct policy decision at any given point, versus further negotiation or diplomacy.

And given what we've found out about how much money Saddam handed out to those who ended up against Coalition military action, the motives of those countries opposed to the war must be suspect.

Repubanon of course mixes his brew of conspiracy by taking a very few isolated instances when Bolton properly or improperly, with cause or not, made management decisions and made statements against subordinates or colleagues who he felt weren't doing their job, and without any evidence at all makes the allegation this was because these individuals were trying to prevent him from working a fraud against Congress, other countries, the U.N., the American public....

In at least one instance, one of these brave public servants was a Cuban apologist, who stoenwalled and protected an analyst who turned out to be working for Cuban Intelligence.

Debate Bolton's real record as a public servant, not gossip and the sniping of a sullen bureaucracy. Dispute his and the Adminstration's positions and Foreign Policy stances vis-a-vis the U.N. (a severely ailing institution for obvious reasons).

But if you want to drink the Koolaid of the moonbats? Please do it somewhere else.

At 6:00 AM, Blogger Ryan said...

Since this post is so far down the line, could you email me, if you reply to this dadmanly?

You wrote: No one fundamentally disputed the accepted facts at hand prior to the invasion of Iraq, just whether that was the correct policy decision at any given point, versus further negotiation or diplomacy.

I remember Scott Ritter going on any show that would allow him a forum, claiming that the intelligence given to Congress was not entirely correct. His predictions about the status of Hussein's weapons programs were correct. Am I wrong to think that he counts among the voices who were discussing WMD prior to the war?

At 3:04 AM, Blogger wanda said...

"...No one fundamentally disputed the accepted facts at hand prior to the invasion of Iraq,"

Were we watchng the same news? Yes, I watch FOX. Daily. As well as CNN , & MSNBC. Every where I looked I saw people saying the information was faulty. Even those stupid Hollywood types had that one right. They might not have been politicians (like that's actually a bad thing) but they knew crap when they saw it. People were protesting throughout this country and the world. Saying this was a mistake. The wrong thing to do. Have we ever entered a war where there were more people who spoke up against such action? I think not.
Powell was probably the most honest man in the administration at that time. Which explains why he was so disregarded and ignored.
Incidently I don't see Rice working any miracles in filling his shoes. In fact I get the impression very few foreign nationals are even taking her seriously.
I would say that kiss-up, kick-down is an apt description of John Bolton. I find it interesting that the State Department (via Rice's command) is now refusing to release any further material relating to Bolton's service. Even they know how damaging the truth is where this man is concerned.


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