From Consortium News
John Bolton criticized North Korea's denuclearization efforts.
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I knew John Bolton and interacted with him on a nearly daily basis with my colleagues in the press corps at United Nations headquarters in New York when Bolton was the United States ambassador there from August 2005 to December 2006.
Most diplomats, officials, and journalists were shocked that Bolton (evading confirmation with a recess appointment) had actually become the U.S. representative, given his long, public disdain for the UN. But that turned out to be the point. It's been the strategy of Republican administrations to appoint the fiercest critic to head an agency or institution in order to weaken it, perhaps even fatally.
Bolton's most infamous quote about the UN followed him into the building. In 1994 he had said: "The Secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If it lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."
But a more telling comment in that same 1994 conference was when he said that no matter what the UN decides, the U.S. will do whatever it wants:
Bolton sees such frank admissions as signs of strength, not alarm.
He is a humorless man, who at the UN at least, seemed to always think he was the smartest person in the room. He once gave a lecture in 2006 at the U.S. mission to UN correspondents, replete with a chalk board, on how nuclear enrichment worked. His aim, of course, was to convince us that Iran was close to a bomb, even though a 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate being prepared at the time said Tehran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
I thought I'd challenge him one day at the press stakeout outside the Security Council chamber, where Bolton often stopped to lecture journalists on what they should write. "If the United States and Britain had not overthrown a democratically elected government in Iran in 1953 would the United States be today faced with a revolutionary government enriching uranium?" I asked him.
"That's an interesting question," he told me, "but for another time and another place." It was a time and a place, of course, that never came.
More Than an Ideology
Bolton possesses an abiding self-righteousness rooted in what seems a sincere belief in the myth of American greatness, mixed with deep personal failings hidden from public view.
He seemed perpetually angry and it wasn't clear whether it was over some personal or diplomatic feud. He seems to take personally nations standing up to America, binding his sense of personal power with that of the United States.
It is more than an ideology. It's fanaticism. Bolton believes America is exceptional and indispensible and superior to all other nations and isn't afraid to say so. He'd have been better off perhaps in the McKinley administration, before the days of PR-sugarcoating of imperial aggression. He's not your typical passive-aggressive government official. He's aggressive-aggressive.
And now Bolton is ordering 120,000 troops to get ready and an aircraft carrier to steam towards Iran.