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Marjorie Cohn: Bush & Bolton - The Bully Twins

Bush & Bolton: The Bully Twins

By Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Thursday 23 June 2005

George Bush and John Bolton have a symbiotic relationship. They need each other to nail shut the coffin of the United Nations, to make the world safe for US domination.

Bolton's record of cooking intelligence to whip up US aggression against other countries fits nicely with Bush's modus operandi. In 2002, while Bush told Tony Blair they would invade Iraq together, Bolton orchestrated the ouster of Jose Bustani, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, to prevent him from inspecting and revealing that Saddam Hussein had no chemical weapons. Had Bustani sent chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad, that might have defused the crisis over alleged Iraqi weapons and undermined the US rationale for war. All the while, Bush lied to the American people, "I have not ordered the use of force. I hope that the use of force will not become necessary."

Bush's choice for US ambassador to the UN is also famous for hyping threats posed by Cuba and Syria, and taking a dangerously combative stance toward North Korea.

It is noteworthy that the US State Department has made positive diplomatic steps since Bolton stepped down from his post as undersecretary of state. US negotiators have finally secured a breakthrough with Russia to eliminate enough plutonium to fuel 8,000 nuclear bombs. The administration abandoned its campaign to remove the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency. And, for the moment, Team Bush is talking to our European allies to achieve a peaceful solution to the problem of Iran's nuclear program. But rest assured that Bolton is ready to do what he does best - wreak havoc - if he is confirmed as US ambassador to the UN.

If former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter is right about US designs on Iran - the way he called George W. Bush's Iraq charade early on - Bolton as UN ambassador can be expected to pave the way for a US attack on Iran.

In his op-ed on Al Jazeera on Sunday, Ritter claimed that the US war with Iran has already begun. He cited American flights over Iran with pilotless drones, CIA-backed actions by an Iranian opposition group, and US military preparations for a base of operations in Azerbaijan to support a massive military presence from which the US could launch a land-based campaign to capture Tehran.

If Bolton becomes US ambassador to the UN, he will escalate the rhetoric and the pressure on other Security Council members against Iran, the third member of Bush's "axis of evil."

Despite the tenacity of Democratic senators in insisting the administration come clean about Bolton's hit list, Bush is likely taking Cheney's advice to hold tight and force an "up-or-down" senatorial vote on Bolton.

Bush could take the easy way out with a recess appointment come Independence Day. But that wouldn't fly quite like Bush's last two end-runs around the Senate, when he installed Charles Pickering and Bill Pryor, two right-wing judges, on the federal bench. (See Marjorie Cohn | Bush's Judges: Right-Wing Ideologues.)

The United Nations is slated to consider Kofi Annan's proposed UN reforms in September, and Bush is eager to have his bully on the job to push the Bush agenda of taking over the UN. If Bolton is unilaterally appointed by Bush, he would enter the job hobbled with a lack of support and a term that will end with the 2006 Congress.

Bush opposed the House of Representatives' decision last week to cut US dues unless the UN goosesteps to the right-wing Republican program. Bush wants to maximize his chances for remaking the UN in his own image, and the dues ultimatum wouldn't play well with his fellow permanent Security Council members. For example, Annan's proposal to interpret "preventive war" as consistent with the UN Charter will be championed by Bush, but opposed by most other countries.

If Bush really wanted to woo his colleagues at the UN, he would attend the 60th anniversary celebration of the founding of the United Nations in San Francisco later this month. But like Cheney during the Vietnam War, Bush has other priorities, and won't be traveling to San Francisco to honor the world's premier peace-building organization.

As United States ambassador to the UN, John Bolton would walk in lockstep with his twin bully, George Bush. And the promise of the United Nations in 1945, to "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war," will be rendered even more hollow.


Marjorie Cohn, a contributing editor to t r u t h o u t, is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists.

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