We interrupt this blog to reply to letters that boil down to, "Please tell if there's any way we can save John Bolton's nomination."
Pundita is not a fairy godmother. And we're unaware the nomination is in jeopardy. But if you want to make matters worse, go ahead and spam the senators on that committee. Now we turn to the Adults Only page:
On her first day at her new post, Condoleezza Rice was met at the gate by State employees wearing a long pigtail and with their hands tucked into billowing silk sleeves.
They told her, "Sadly, our reading of the entrails reveals that we will not be seeing you much. Happily, this is because you will go down in history as the Traveling Secretary of State. If this is not clear, we can make it so by pounding you to dust then atomizing your molecules."
This is the same group at State who nearly brought down the Bush presidency, just as a warning to the Bush administration not to continue wandering off the NATO reservation.
This is also the Mandarins' concern about John Bolton. Now that he has seen the width of the gossamer thread dangling the sword above his head, he has a few days to ponder certain realities and send signals back.
Bolton thinks with great precision, which equates to clarity, which is why he has few real friends among the Necons, not to mention their archrivals. Here are but two examples of precise thinking Bolton has demonstrated:
Discerning the difference between international law and the International Criminal Court. (This one stumps Senator Biden, every time.)
Understanding that you must first have an American policy before you can think of meshing the policy with those representing international alliances; e.g., NATO, United Nations, European Community. (This one is the Rorschach test for Wilsonians and Natoists.)
Thus, I believe John Bolton is capable of discerning when it's wise to take a page from the beaver member of Pundita's foreign policy team. The beaver's #1 rule for how to negotiate logging rights with bears, owls and wolves who think they own the riverbank is, "Very carefully."
It is by many small steps over many decades that we got to this messy point in American history. So one does extricate oneself from mess in a single bound. If Bolton can assure the Mandarins that he knows where the line is, they will work the phones in reverse.
And he needs to give the same assurance to Secretary Rice. She needs to feel she can pick up the phone and say, "Halt until further notice" and he'll do it.
As to whether he can count on any more than limp-wristed support from Rice, put yourself in her place. He is going to upstage her, even if he works on a very short leash at the UN.
But Bolton would upstage anyone in that position at State because the UN is very ripe for change. The key players there (such as Kofi Annan) know that. And they know that Bolton has the contacts, and knowledge of the complexities, to help bring about needed changes.
In other words, he's going to have the wind at his back so he'll make it look easy; there will be some spectacular successes early on. This cannot be the case for Rice in her job. Maybe Pundita is unduly pessimistic but nothing I have seen about State has convinced me that the agency can be reformed from the inside.
What Bolton can do at the UN for Rice is take pressure off her to act the Bad Cop role.