John Robert Bolton, the neocon's neocon, laps up the hosannas of fellow knuckle-draggers May 28 when he is the special guest of the World Affairs Council of Orange County. The nonprofit, 500-member council--which since its 1967 founding has hosted Prince Andrew, Vicente Fox, Hans Blix and several other international newsmakers--expects 250 to turn out for Bolton and his moustache tormenting the wait staff at the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.
Bolton has been employed by several Republican presidential administrations but perhaps none so famously as George W. Bush's. The conservative firebrand accepted a recess appointment to serve as the "interim permanent" U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in August 2005. He resigned in December 2006 amid a certain Senate vote against his confirmation.
Here's the World Affairs Council's diplomatic bio: "During his tenure at the United Nations, Ambassador Bolton was a tenacious and outspoken advocate of U.S. efforts to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, push Syria out of Lebanon and bring African peacekeepers into shaky Somalia. He was also an advocate for human rights."
That, of course, does not tell the half of it.
While in Ronald Reagan's Justice Department, Bolton urged opposition to financial reparations for Japanese-Americans held in World War II-era internment camps and cited executive privilege to prevent the release of memos William Rehnquist wrote in Richard Nixon's Justice Department as Congress weighed confirmation of Rehnquist for chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
During Dubya's first term, Bolton opposed the International Criminal Court "on constitutional grounds" and called the decision to pull out of the ICC the "happiest moment" of his political career so far. He was instrumental in derailing a 2001 biological weapons conference in Geneva and a year later flew to Europe to demand the resignation of Jose Bustani as head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, something the United Nations' highest administrative tribunal later condemned as an "unacceptable violation" of principles protecting international civil servants. Bolton also pushed for de-funding the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program to halt the proliferation of nuclear materials.
Critics alleged Bolton routinely tried to spin intelligence to support his political views and objectives, refused to listen to administration staffers telling him things he did not want to hear and withheld information that ran counter to his goals from Secretary of State Colin Powell on multiple occasions, and from Powell's successor Condoleezza Rice on at least one occasion. There are also reports Bolton tried to have members of the administration fired or reassigned if the intelligence they provided him did not fit with his narrow world view.
Bush Administration lies, misstatements and unsupported "facts" tied to Bolton include: the line in the 2003 State of the Union Address alleging British Intelligence had determined Iraq attempted to procure yellowcake uranium from Niger; Syria's development of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons having progressed to such a point that they posed a threat to stability in the region; and Iran's threats to the entire world with weapons of mass destruction.
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Bolton's ambassador appointment was considered a slap-in-the-face by many at the U.N. because he had been such a strong critic of the international body for much of his career. In a 1994 Global Structures Convocation hosted by the World Federalist Association, he stated, "There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is only the international community, which can only be led by the only remaining superpower, which is the United States." He also stated that "The Secretariat Building in New York has 38 stories. If you lost ten stories today, it wouldn't make a bit of difference." You don't get much more critical than that. Bolton's opponents and supporters use the same video of those remarks to damn/praise the speaker.
Among Bolton's more controversial moves in the U.N. Security Council came during and after Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 2006, when he consistently blocked efforts to adopt a ceasefire and rejected criticism of Israel's bombing campaign by claiming there is "no moral equivalence" between Lebanese civilians killed accidently by Israel retaliation attacks and Israelis killed by "malicious terrorist acts." The Economist called Bolton "the most controversial ambassador ever sent by America to the United Nations."
Bolton has been a prominent participant in such neoconservative groups as the Project for the New American Century, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and the Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf, but he rejects the neocon label being attached to him, pointing out that he was a conservative since high school, working on the 1964 Barry Goldwater presidential campaign. He is now a counsel in the D.C. office of the Kirkland & Ellis law first, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and--besides the necon jobs mentioned above--a thinker with such think tanks and policy institutes as the National Rifle Association, the Council for National Policy, the Institute of East-West Dynamics and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Proceeds from his local appearance--which begins with a 6 p.m. reception and is followed by an audience Q&A after his 7 p.m. dinner presentation--benefit the World Affairs Council's Educational Outreach Program. Cost is $150 per council member, $175 per member of the public and $1,250 per table of 10. Call (949) 253-5751 or visit worldaffairscouncil.org if hanging out with scum like John Bolton is your cup of tea.