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May. 20 2009 - 9:37 am | 17 views | 1 recommendation | 15 comments

Update: John Bolton Still Crazy

John Bolton (image from Salon)

John Bolton (image from Salon)

You have to hand it to the Wall Street Journal. At a time when the newspaper industry is desperately trying to remind America it’s important and relevant, the WSJ has carved out a nice little niche for itself as a halfway house for discredited political figures. I think it’s really humane of them. Their most recent charity case is John Bolton, America’s former ambassador to the United Nations.

Where else would someone like John Bolton get to shout his insane ideas? FOX News? Well, yeah maybe that one time when he said, ”I think this is a case where the use of military force against a training camp to show the Iranians we’re not going to tolerate this is really the most prudent thing to do.” The BBC? Oh yeah, that one time…and that other time. MSNBC? Check. Okay, so maybe he was getting plenty of airtime, but regardless, I’m glad to see his little incoherently ranting ideas (like Chicago being destroyed by a nuclear bomb) preserved for the ages in print.

I can’t think of any other columnist brave enough to suggest bombing people is a prudent strategy. Paul Krugman, I’m looking at you. Nothing? Okay then. Moving on.

Today, Bolton chose to growl at the old, but reliable, enemy of North Korea. This is a particularly vintage move when one considers North Korea already tried to strike fear into the hearts of Americans last month when they tested a missile that fizzled and fell into the ocean 1,300 miles off the east coast of Japan. Bolton’s stance is pretty brave because his frenzied ideology flies in the face of scholarly counsel. 

Experts on North Korea say Kim Jong-il’s motives center around receiving aid, and fear of the United States, since they bombed his country during the Korean War. B. R. Myers, a researcher of North Korean ideology and propaganda at Dongseo University, recommends America ignore Kim. South Korea’s new president, Lee Myung-bak is badmouthing Kim (and his nuclear program) enough as it is, and everyone in the region is slowly realizing the great leader is gravely fallible. A dictator only has a few options to show he’s still hot shit, and one of those is to blast a missile into the ocean. But it’s not a threat to the United States. It’s actually just pathetic. Call it the official countdown of Kim. He’s also sick, weak, and may have had a stroke

And yet all of these facts couldn’t soothe the nerves of our mustachioed maverick, John Bolton. Get Ready for Another North Korean Nuke Test he hollers at the top of the page. Bolton recycles the argument that Kim got everything his tiny dictator heart desired by bullying the world into six-party talks, which “gave [him] cover to further advance his nuclear program.”  If the US strategy was up to Bolton, he would scream threats at everyone he perceived as being Korean, which is exactly what would make things worse, Myers argues. 

Over the past decade North Korea’s string of nuclear provocations has reinforced the public conviction that Washington’s bark is worse than its bite. Kim Jong-il has so far shown little indication that he does not share this conviction.

Bolton has risen from the dead to show the world America’s credibility is back by…rattling…his…saber…again. Okay, maybe that won’t work. But he has new information! The North Koreans are mocking us, everyone! Did you know that? John Bolton knows this because he read it in the state-controlled newspaper, which calls America “a rogue and a gangster.” And sure, state-controlled newspapers are just mouthpieces for dictators, but surely those North Korean civilians are all invited to the paper pitch meetings, and brainstorm headlines with their boss. They don’t fool John Robert Bolton. 

He’s fuming mad that the Obama administration wants to (scoff) talk to North Korea. I mean, the nerve. How are we supposed to bomb stuff if we’re there talking to them? Of course, this is the man who used to block information from reaching former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and and Powell’s successor, Condoleezza Rice, that was “vital to U.S. strategies on Iran,” simply because the information contradicted his own insane ideologies. So maybe we shouldn’t take his word on this stuff.

I know what you’re thinking: a John Bolton article isn’t a John Bolton article unless it has a crazy jump in logic and wild proclamation nestled somewhere in its margins. Turn that frown upside-down, kiddo, ’cause here it comes:

Even worse, Iran and other aspiring nuclear proliferators will draw precisely the same conclusion: Negotiations like the six-party talks are a charade and reflect a continuing collapse of American resolve. U.S. acquiescence in a second North Korean nuclear test will likely mean that Tehran will adopt Pyongyang’s successful strategy.

Only John Bolton would introduce a new thesis in the last paragraph of his article. I bet you didn’t see Iran sneaking in there at the last second like a serial killer that comes back to life in the last frame of the movie, but there it is. The second American diplomats land in North Korea, Iran is going to nuke Israel. It’s practically written in the history books already.


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  1. collapse expand

    It’s so hard not to just curl up in a ball and hide from the media sometimes. I don’t know how the hell you do it Allison.

  2. collapse expand

    Despite your sassy style, gratuitous mockery of Mr. Bolton, condescending mouthing of “academic facts” you missed the story in every aspect. While Mr. Bolton got the story right in every aspect. Yesterday the Norks successfully detonated a city busting nuclear bomb.

    In the style of the country you know so little about(North Korea), do you feel the need to re-educate yourself?

    • collapse expand

      I sort of addressed this point already, but here it is again: Everyone familiar with North Korea knew they would test another bomb or missile. That wasn’t up for serious debate. Kim Jong Il sets off a missile or bomb any time he wants attention or aid. What’s up for debate is how America will respond to his threats.

      Bolton and his apologists need to provide a solution rather than broadly stating Obama needs to “get tough” with Kim. What does that mean? Does it mean invading another country and costing more American lives, and the lives of innocent civilians? If so, one need only look to Iraq and Afghanistan to see the future of that kind of hasty decision.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    “I know what you’re thinking: a John Bolton article isn’t a John Bolton article unless it has a crazy jump in logic and wild proclamation nestled somewhere in its margins.”

    Oh. A wild proclamation such as “North Korea may engage in additional nuclear tests?”

    Wild indeed, especially as seen from the vantage point of this balmy Memorial Day morning. You know, the same balmy morning in which North Korea conducted its second nuclear test?

    You, ma’am, are a fraud. But you’re a funny fraud. And shrill, too!

    Thanks for the giggle.

    • collapse expand

      Everyone familiar with North Korea knew they would test another bomb or missile. That wasn’t up for serious debate. Kim Jong Il sets off a missile or bomb any time he wants attention or aid. What’s up for debate is how America will respond to his threats. John Bolton’s strategy entails launching into a hysterical tirade about North Korea without proposing any discernible solution. Something about Obama needing to get tough..whatever that means.

      It’s pretty common for Bolton apologists to call a person who holds different beliefs than their own “shrill” or somehow “unserious.” So that attack doesn’t surprise me, but you should have at least read my article to understand what I meant by a crazy jump in logic.

      Any first level English class teaches students how to write a thesis at the beginning of a piece and then form a supporting argument in the body of the work. What Bolton does is form a thesis: North Korea is going to kill us all, and then introduce a brand new idea in the last paragraph of his piece: If North Korea doesn’t kill us, Iran sure will. That’s a weird jump in logic, and one that needs vast proof to support the claim. Bolton provides no evidence of this.

      The theses “North Korea will test a bomb,” and “Iran will test a bomb,” are two entirely different theses because they deal with two entirely different countries. Whatever the propagandists spout, they are not part of the same “axis of evil.” For example, Fareed Zakaria recently wrote a compelling piece in Nesweek arguing that Iran may not want a nuclear bomb at all. What they want is nuclear power.

      If you’re looking to direct your anger at someone on this balmy Memorial Day, may I suggest men like John Bolton and other Bush cronies who led the nation to war and have since cost the lives of around 5,000 American soldiers.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  4. collapse expand

    Thanks for the response.

    So Bolton said:

    “Even worse, Iran and other aspiring nuclear proliferators will draw precisely the same conclusion: Negotiations like the six-party talks are a charade and reflect a continuing collapse of American resolve. U.S. acquiescence in a second North Korean nuclear test will likely mean that Tehran will adopt Pyongyang’s successful strategy.

    It’s time for the Obama administration to finally put down Kim Jong Il’s script. If not, we better get ready for Iran — and others — to go nuclear.”

    And somehow you construed that statement to mean:

    “If North Korea doesn’t kill us, Iran sure will.”

    Is that it? Seems like a terribly simple-minded translation of Mr. Bolton’s concern over 1) nuclear proliferation, and 2) his appraisal that North Korea’s success at developing a nuclear program in the face of international opposition may embolden others interested in developing similar nuclear programs.

    Can you assure us, in no uncertain terms Ms. Kilkenny, that a level-headed person such as, say, Mr. Ahmadinejad is not eyeing this turn of events with great interest? Can you provide us with vast proof (your words, Ms. Kilkenny) that Iran is only interested in developing nuclear power–that Fareed Zakaria is correct in asserting that Iran is not interested in nuclear weapons? Can you provide us with ample evidence that the continuing Iranian program of building centrifuge cascades for Uranium enrichment is totally benign?

    By the way, the “continuing collapse of American resolve” of which Mr. Bolton speaks, and the “U.S. acquiescence in a second North Korean nuclear test” he bemoans, began in the Clinton Administration. Bolton is not accusing President Obama of anything. He’s talking about a failed US policy vis–à–vis North Korea in general–a policy which began with the Clinton administration, continued unabated through the Bush administration, and which currently shows no signs of changing in the current administration.

    Notice I said the Bush administration. Yes, they failed, too.

    Bush cronies? Glad to see you’re maintaining your journalistic objectivity and integrity.

    Oh, wait. Are you a journalist? I forgot to ask. Frankly, it’s hard to tell by reading your post.

    By the way, I didn’t fail to notice your comment that “men like John Bolton…led the nation to war and have since cost the lives of around 5,000 American soldiers.”

    How about men like Franklin Delano Roosevelt who led the nation to war and cost the lives of over 6,000 American Marines.

    In just one battle.

    At Iwo Jima.

    In just over 30 days….

    Please tell your audience what you think of that?

    Just saying.

    Now excuse me while I get back to a remedial reading of my first level English class textbook. I have been told it would benefit me.

    • collapse expand

      Admittedly, that was my cheeky interpretation of an absurdly simplistic view of both North Korea and Iran. Bolton appears to advise that Obama simply give up on diplomatic measures with both North Korea and Iran. This is a dangerous attitude, especially in light of this newest piece of information from the New York Times that states the nuclear test may have been part of a larger maneuver to secure Kim Jong Il’s lineage. North Korea is most likely employing a (very stupid and dangerous) strategy, and not threatening to level the free world, so calling off negotiations and then lumping two entirely different nations (NK and Iran) into the category of “people we don’t talk to” is a bad, bad strategy.

      The main thesis of my argument is that John Bolton has been widely discredited in the intelligence community (a charge I noticed you didn’t touch.) My point is that we can’t take a man, who has now lied repeatedly whilst gathering intelligence for the sake of propping up his own biased ideologies, seriously. Really, he’s a joke, and a paranoid joke, at that.

      The most recent intelligence as reported in the Times indicates that “The North may be trying to speed up the process by forcing Washington into direct talks, say experts.” That’s good news for fans of diplomacy, and the opposite of what fear-mongering John Bolton suggested in the WSJ.

      I’m sure we can both agree any deaths (whether American soldiers or innocent civilians) should be avoided at all costs, and one way to do that is to exhaust every option before using military intervention or we allow cowards like John Bolton to play war from afar with others’ lives.

      PS: No where have I ever stated to be an unbiased journalist. I’m wildly biased against stupidity, whether the stupidity comes from Democrats (as it does 50% of the time,) or Republicans.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    You do realize that you’re being scrutinized today, don’t you?

    http://freekorea.us/2009/05/25/nuclear-groundhog-day-in-north-korea/

    The verb “beclown” is kind of judgmental, don’t you think? Even harsh? (Yes, he misspelled it.)

    • collapse expand

      That’s hilarious. Thanks for the heads up that I’ve been beclowing myself (we’ll stick with the original accusation :) )

      I’m sure a person who consulted with John Bolton would take any criticism of his former colleague as a personal assault. Perhaps Stanton should recuse himself from writing on matters pertaining to Bolton in the future before he embarrasses himself with any further typos or “thoughts.”

      While many may advise I bow before the mighty intellect of a man who one time assisted with research and design for Google Earth images, I argue that I have as much to contribute to the dialogue as any other pundit. Of course, alternative news contributors are frequently viewed as “unserious,” or a “threat,” but I think we can all contribute to the dialogue, even if we make embarrassing typos and unthinkingly defend our criminal associates.

      Unsurprisingly, Stanton doesn’t address my original thesis: John Bolton is a liar, and unqualified to ever give anyone foreign policy advice ever again. That’s not surprising, since acknowledging Bolton’s mistakes would automatically discredit Stanton’s “accomplishments.”

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  6. collapse expand

    “Unsurprisingly, Stanton doesn’t address my original thesis: John Bolton is a liar, and unqualified to ever give anyone foreign policy advice ever again.”

    Ummmm. A liar? That would be an ad hominem attack on John Bolton that fails to address the issue at hand. I mean, get real. What do you really know about his motives, except for the fact that you hate his weltanschauung and, apparently, his moustache?

    See the third paragraph of your previous comment:

    “I argue that I have as much to contribute to the dialogue as any other pundit.”

    A real “pundit” would refrain from going all ad hominem on someone.

    You have failed to refrain. Face it.

    What say you?

  7. collapse expand

    Bolton has highlighted the obvious: US policy on North Korea since Bill Clinton first term, has been appeasement, bribes and ignoring the Norks as your professor advised. Bolton says these polices have failed. Do you disagree?
    Its clear China, North Korea and Pakistan have unleashed a new nuclear arms race. Due to their proliferation actions and feckless US policy that Bolton decries, the world is faced with a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and north Asia. How long before Japan and South Korea develop their own nuclear weapons? How long before Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Eygpt acquire nuclear arms thanks to North Korea’s help to Iran? Bolton is telling us all to see the new reality. You should too.

  8. collapse expand

    richardb is right, thank you.

    And I notice that you have quoted and linked to such bastions of nonpartisan journalistic integrity as the NYT, WaPo, and the Boston Globe–while unfairly besmirching Fox News in your original post.

    Methinks you should do yourself a favor and broaden your sources of news input.

    In the meantime, would you really like to see a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia? If someone doesn’t do something soon to deter North Korea, South Korea and Japan may have no choice but to oblige.

  9. collapse expand

    Allison now looks pretty damn stupid?

    You betcha…

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    I co-host Citizen Radio, the alternative political radio show. I am a contributing reporter to Huffington Post, Alternet.org, and The Nation.

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