Sarah Baxter conducted this frank (is their any other kind with J to tbe B?) with the Ambassador. Excerpts follow. The full Interview is here. Go and read it all. Rarely do you get this insight, clarity, brains, braun and balls from anyone.
And of course he is right on ever point. There are no alternatives.
When John Bolton left the United Nations, some of the fun went out of the multi-storey talking shop. No longer was the walrus-moustached rightwinger there to cast barbs at the silver-tongued bureaucrats who took pride in peddling compromises, turned a blind eye to corrupt practices and humoured dictators – the very essence of diplomacy, some might say.
And true to his warlike leanings, Bolton has some weapons stashed in his locker for Gordon Brown.
“If Gordon Brown knew what he was doing when he appointed Mark Malloch Brown, it was a major signal that he wants a different relationship with the United States,” Bolton says. “If he didn’t know what he was doing, that’s not a good sign either. It symbolises that the British government is moving to the left.”
In Washington, senior officials were rattled by Malloch Brown’s comments last weekend that Britain and America would no longer be “joined at the hip” and foreign policy would become more “impartial”. They were also taken aback that another member of Brown’s new government, Douglas Alexander, the international development secretary and fervent ally of the prime minister, had the nerve to lecture Washington on its home turf about the need for “multilateralism”.
Alexander’s spin doctors were chastised for giving anti-US briefings but Bolton says bluntly: “I guess my question would be, ‘Who’s in charge here?’ ” The anti-George Bush headlines in Britain provoked a crisis meeting between senior British officials and Condoleezza Rice, the American secretary of state, and Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser.
Yet diplomatic niceties continued to be exchanged in public last week. “Oh good grief no,” Rice exclaimed when asked on television if there was a split in the special relationship. On the same day, Miliband said soothingly in his maiden foreign policy speech at Chatham House: “The US is the single most important bilateral relationship.”
As one Washingtonian told me: “Officially, everything is hunky-dory. Privately, it is recognised that there are major loose cannons around.”
Far from wanting the Malloch Browns and Alexanders to pipe down, Bolton is delighted they have spoken up. “My theory is, ‘Let a hundred flowers bloom’,” he says, quoting Chairman Mao (although the Chinese leader never permitted the slightest dissent). Bolton wants the private mindset of the Labour left, the Foreign Office and the United Nations – which has bugged him for years – to be out in the open.
Malloch Brown, he points out, was “simply saying the sort of thing he used to say lurking behind closed doors in the United Nations”, where diplomats have perfected the art of “speaking with four or five faces”. It is important, he suggests, for the United States to “know exactly where the Brown government is going instead of skulking around the hallways”.
“If the Brown government wants to be more European than Atlanticist, let’s hear it. If they would rather not have a special relationship, let’s hear it.” And then comes the zinger: “If they want to be a part of Europe in the same way as Belgium and Luxembourg, let’s hear it.”
Bolton believes Britain must face the question: “Do you want to be an independent country or a county in a big Europe?” The way he tells it is guaranteed to offend our national pride, but you can’t say he hasn’t warned us. “If Britain wants to be subsumed into the European soup, the United States will have to react accordingly – and we will, make no mistake.”
Brown, he has noticed, considers himself an Atlanticist, but only to the extent that he is in tune with the Democratic party. “There are a lot of people on the Democratic side here who think the European Union has better policies than the Bush administration,” Bolton says.
He suspects David Cameron, the Tory leader, is going the same way. “It may be that he simply finds that Europe is more attractive than America as well.”
Bolton is pleased that Brown is standing up to President Vladimir Putin over the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, but cannot resist another dig at the prime minister. “I hope that is an indication that he is going to be tough on Iran, too.”
Hardly. Officials on both sides of the Atlantic believe that Iran presents the greatest threat of disagreement between Brown’s Britain and America – not Iraq, where plans for a drawdown of British troops were agreed long ago with Tony Blair. Although the balance of power between Dick Cheney, the bellicose vice-president, and the dovish Pentagon and State Department is more volatile than it used to be, some senior officials are convinced that Bush is determined to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities before he leaves office.
“I hope so,” says Bolton, unabashed. “I don’t regard the use of military force as attractive, but if the choice is a nuclear-armed Iran, there is no question that you have to come down on the side of force.”
Bolton believes the “blind persistence” of diplomacy through the EU3 nations of Britain, France and Germany has merely strengthened Iran’s hand. “What will it take to convince Europe the policy has failed? If we wait till they get a bomb, it will be too late.”
To his mind, craven British diplomats seized the initiative on Iran while Blair’s attention was on Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terror (a phrase Brown has banned). “Many of the Foreign Office’s policies would not have been pursued by Blair, had he been more focused.”
It is a charitable view of Blair, who remains an American hero for his support of the Iraq war. But Bolton believes Brown’s succession shows how little Blair managed to change his party. “He was supposed to have altered Labour fundamentally, but did he? Has old Labour, the Labour left, reemerged? If that’s the case, relations between the US and the UK will be as problematic as they were when Harold Wilson was prime minister during the Vietnam war.”
Bolton admits that Washington appears to have gone through a silent, little-noticed regime change of its own, in which the personalities remain largely the same but the policies have shifted. He is no longer confident of where Bush stands on Iran or other issues. “I’m not sure where he is today.”
UPDATE: Check out the beefcake. What a stud:) thanks Bill for scanning and sending. He tells me that's a Brown Bess he's clutching. Big gun, I'd say.
NRA Centerfold: NRA's Chris W. Cox, Wayne LaPierre, Sandy Froman, Bolton, John Sigler and Ron Schmeits.
UPDATE: John begs to differ