John Bolton: The Anti-Diplomat

[President Bush today named neoconservative, unilateralist hawk John Bolton as the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Just who is John Bolton? ]

For a diplomat, Bolton has a disturbing lack of tact and diplomacy. In 1999, he roiled the diplomatic waters by charging that a sound U.S. policy “would start by making it clear to the North that we are indifferent to whether we ever have ‘normal’ diplomatic relations with it, and that achieving that goal is entirely in their interests, not ours. We should also make clear that diplomatic normalization with the U.S. is only going to come when North Korea becomes a normal country.” In July 2003, just before crucial six-nation talks with North Korea, his thoughtless comments caused a heightening of tensions. Bolton called North Korean leader Kim Jong Il a “tyrannical dictator” of a country where “life is a hellish nightmare.” North Korea immediately responded, saying that “such human scum and bloodsucker is not entitled to take part in the talks…. We have decided not to consider him as an official of the U.S. administration any longer nor to deal with [him].” The State Department was forced to call Bolton home and send a replacement to the talks. Bolton’s colleagues are scathing in their assessment of his diplomatic skills: One high-level co-worker called Bolton “an anti-diplomat who tries to intimidate those who disagree with his views.”