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?