If you missed my interview with Ambassador Bolton, listen here. The Book hits the strreets today. Get it. Now. Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations.
Blunt Diplomacy John Bolton's new memoir shows that he's no neocon.
BY BRENDAN SIMMS, Wall Street Journal
Thus the British representative to the Security Council is quoted as being "so tired of having to go out in front of those damned cameras and explain why we gave up on this or conceded on that." Far and away the most feeble performance is put in by the envoy from Berlin, who reflexively gives the Iranians the benefit of the doubt, crediting their claims of peaceful intentions. The Germans of all people should care about nuclear weapons in the hands of a maniac such as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for the destruction of Israel. Their diplomats at the U.N. should not be making excuses for an Iranian nuclear program that is plainly intended for military purposes.
Mr. Bolton, it should be said, does not proceed merely by assertion: He supplies dates, names names, cites documents, recounts conversations and gives a blow-by-blow record of his diplomatic dealings. His memoir is entirely without coyness and spares no one, not even George W. Bush himself, whom he accuses of dropping the ball on Iran in recent times.
Mr. Bolton is merciless with the senior and middling State Department officials who he felt tried to sabotage the campaign against Tehran. His criticism will no doubt send them back to their diaries to pen a rebuttal. For the moment, however, "Surrender Is Not an Option" serves as a first draft of history. Even for those who disagree with him, Mr. Bolton's account will be the first port of call for those seeking to understand U.S. policy on nuclear proliferation during President Bush's two administrations.
It will also lay to rest a tenacious misunderstanding about the author. Mr. Bolton has long been described, even by otherwise well-informed commentators, as a "neoconservative." In fact, his political roots in small-government Goldwater Republicanism could not be further removed from the big-government origins of the formerly Democratic neoconservatives. Moreover, Mr. Bolton is innocent--too much so, in my view--of any ambition to put the export of democracy at the center of U.S. foreign policy.
In fact, Mr. Bolton is, in many ways, a member of the same "realist" family as Colin Powell, Richard Armitage and Condoleezza Rice. But unlike them, he sees nothing realistic about appeasing Iran's nuclear ambitions. Mr. Bolton provides a depressing account of how, within the Bush administration itself, initial firmness gave way--in Mr. Powell's case to a concern for his "legacy" and in Ms. Rice's to a penchant for "carrots" over "sticks" in her dealings with Iran. He was so outraged over one of her capitulations that he pointedly ordered carrot soup at his next dinner with her.
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UPDATE: Don't miss Bolton's scathing editorial in today's NY Post: Dithering Diplomats (hat tip George)