John Bolton talks a lot about democracy but seems more about igniting wars -- particularly with North Korea, Iran, Cuba and/or China.
Bolton was in Taiwan recently speaking on American foreign policy and his experiences in the Bush administration as part of a set of pre-release publicity tours for his forthcoming book, Surrender is not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad. The picture above was taken by a friend in Taiwan at the headquarters of the Taiwan Democracy Foundation which no doubt made Bolton's journey to Taipei well, can we say, "quite worthwhile."
In a meeting with Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, Bolton reportedly stated that he "did not think one democracy should tell another democracy not to act like a democracy." Bolton was referring to American informal instructions to Taiwan that any state declarations of independence from China, as opposed to autonomy, would trigger a redefinition of the strategic relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan.
One of the few good things that the Bush administration did do was to draw clear lines -- very clear lines -- for what the United States could accept regarding its own defense and security exposure to Taiwan's incremental independence efforts. Ambassadorial equivalent and China expert American Institute in Taiwan Director Douglas Paal actually did a brilliant job as the Bush administration's envoy in making sure that both Taiwanese and Chinese authorities got a reality test on the limits of American patience when it came to their sabre-rattling and dangerous rhetoric.
It's a shame that the other part of the world that has tried repeatedly to blur its boundaries and aggressively expand what it could do during the Bush administration, Israel, did not have a Doug Paal in place to communicate emphatically the limits of American strategic support. Instead we have had Elliot Abrams who has been doing what John Bolton now is -- egging on serious, potential military conflicts that America is poorly positioned to support.
Those in Washington who want to further explore John Bolton's devotion to democracy and/or war can do so at the "Margaret Thatcher Freedom Lecture" at the Heritage Foundation on September 6th at 11 a.m.
Maybe someone can ask him if he happens to be Secretary of State someday (and it could happen), would he tolerate someone on staff like him who was so clearly insubordinate of Colin Powell and Richard Armitage -- and who engaged in diplomatic brinksmanship with states like North Korea, Cuba, Iran, and China at times directly antithetical to what the Bush administration was trying to achieve. Would he keep the renegade staffer on? or fire him?
-- Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note