Why Do They Hate Us? Start With John Bolton.

Does former UN Amb. John Bolton – now with the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) — still speak for Dick Cheney?

The new British government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown must be scratching its collective head over that question given the truly unbelievably arrogant and threatening op-ed Bolton, a Cheney protege, published in Wednesday’s Financial Times.

The column’s title, “Britain Cannot Have Two Best Friends,” refers to what Bolton calls “a clear decision point” for Britain — to choose between the United States and the European Union or, as he refers to it, the “European porridge” of which he so clearly disapproves. For Bolton, it is a zero-sum game, and, in his view, it is now up to Brown to make the choice. “[W]hether the ‘special relationship’ grows stronger or weaker lies entirely in British hands,” he states.

The catalyst for Bolton’s outburst appears to have been Brown’s statement during his visit with Bush last week that Britain’s “single most important bilateral relationship” is with the U.S. The only U.S. ambassador to the UN never to have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate – despite repeated attempts – calls that characterization a “clever but meaningless dodge.

“Drop the word ‘bilateral’. What is Britain’s most important ‘relationship’? Does Mr. Brown regard the EU as a ‘state under construction’, as some EU supporters proclaim, or not?

The answers to these questions are what Washington really needs to know. What London needs to know is that its answer will have consequences.”[Emphasis added]

For example, Bolton goes on, Britain’s absorption into the European porridge raises questions about whether it (as well as Sarkozy’s France) should still be entitled to a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. “Of course the Security Council permanent seat is not the real issue – it is the question of whether Britain still has sovereignty over its foreign policy or whether it has simply taken its assigned place in the EU food chain.”

“Consider also the US-UK intelligence relationship. Fundamental to that relationship is  that pooled intelligence is not shared with others without mutual consent. Tension     immediately arises in EU circles, however, when Britain advocates policies based on intelligence [such as Saddam’s uranium purchases from Niger, for example?] that other EU members do not have. How tempting it must already be to British diplomats to ‘very privately’ reveal what they know to European colleagues. How does Mr. Brown feel about sharing US intelligence with other Europeans?”

“Finally there is Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, which will prove in the long run more important for both countries than the current turmoil in Iraq. Here the US has followed the EU lead in a failed diplomatic effort to dissuade Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons. If Mr. Bush decides that the only way to stop Iran is to use military force, where will Mr Brown come down? Supporting the US or allowing Iran to goose-step towards nuclear weapons?”[Emphasis added]

Bolton’s coda displays the kind of diplomacy for which he became widely despised throughout the UN during his ruinous tenure there. “I will wait for answers to these and other questions before I draw conclusions about ‘the special relationship’ under Mr. Brown,” he harrumphs. “But not forever.” At least, he didn’t use the royal “We.”

Still, one must positively wonder at the tone, content, and not least the intent of Bolton’s utterly offensive bloviation. Is he trying to provoke Brown into proving his independence from Washington? Is he trying to drive the new prime minister closer to his former UN nemesis, Mark Malloch Brown, as part of some bizarre masochistic compulsion? Is he trying to create even more anti-American feeling in Britain and “Eurabia,” as some of his Anglo-chauvinist friends refer to Western Europe these days? Is he trying to split the West? Does he actually work for bin Laden? (Is AEI an al-Qaeda sleeper cell?) And does Bolton still speak for Cheney?

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. Don’t worry Jim, the Euston Manifesto circles will take care that we Eurabian progressives, sorry liberals, will fall deeply in love with the benevolent US hegemon soon. The days are near when we finally realize that the neocons are indeed the political messiahses we have been waiting for all the time. ;-)

    Kraut de Cologne

  2. I’m sure Britain will welcome this constructive criticism from it’s valued ally – everybody knows that being shown where they’re going wrong by what many Britons regard as a shower of unwashed colonials is a treat not to be missed. Also, there’s the implication that the United States might not be disposed to share intelligence that has been consistently and spectacularly wrong with Britain, against the possibility that Britain might – deliberately or inadvertently – pass this codswallop along to other European has-beens. Well, now the Europeans will just have to learn how to ties their shoelaces on their own, I guess. Since England has been a unified state since the 10th century, and America a country founded by British colonists only since 1776, I daresay they’ll muddle through somehow.

  3. Thank you Mr. Lobe for your incisive response. The Financial Times should print this, and We (the royal we) must make sure PM Brown reads it.AEI-Qaeda indeed. Pshh.

    (edited for content)

  4. The print edition of the FT billed him as an “expert voice”. Well, the only topic on which he’s shown expertise that I noticed has been as an expert in the thinking of the neocons around Cheney…

  5. I applaud Mr. Bolton’s candor. I predict Brown and the UK will do next-to-nothing in response. Key to all protection rackets is occasionally reminding everyone where exactly they stand, thus explaining the reference to Sarkozy as well, and where the UK stands is clear, no?

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