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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Bolton, Negroponte, Noriega, and more

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It’s not been a good week. Michael Chertoff was confirmedas Homeland Secretary, John Negroponte named to be the first Director ofNational Intelligence, and most recently John Bolton was nominated as the newUN Ambassador.

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This Week onthe Right

RabidAnti-Multilateralist Nominated as UN Ambassador

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced thepresident’s nomination of John Bolton to be the next U.S. ambassador to theUnited Nations. As George W. Bush’s undersecretary of State for arms controland international security, Bolton served as the administration’s designatedtreaty killer.

Since his State Department appointment(which was opposed by Secretary of State Colin Powell), Bolton’s reputation asa rabid opponent of international agreements and loose-lipped critic of foreignregimes has become the stuff of legend, at times hampering the StateDepartment’s ability to undertake negotiations.

In July 2003, during the run up to thesix-nation talks with North Korea, Bolton described Korean head of state KimJong Il as a “tyrannical dictator” of a country where “life is ahellish nightmare.” North Korea responded in kind, saying that “suchhuman scum and bloodsucker is not entitled to take part in the talks. … Wehave decided not to consider him as an official of the U.S. administration anylonger, nor to deal with him.” The State Department sent a replacement for Bolton to the talks.

Bolton’s penchant for going offhalf-cocked extends well beyond North Korean issues. Some notable examples:

  • At a 1994 panel discussion sponsored by the World Federalist Association, Bolton claimed, “There’s no such thing as the United Nations,” saying that ”if the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”
  • During the July 2001 global U.N. conference on small arms and light weapons, Bolton told delegates that the United States was not only opposed to any agreement restricting civilian possession of small arms, it also didn’t appreciate “the promotion of international advocacy activity by international or non-governmental organizations.” Bolton’s delegation was accompanied by that distinguished American NGO the National Rifle Association.
  • In 1998, when he was senior vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, Bolton described the International Criminal Court (ICC) as “a product of fuzzy-minded romanticism [that] is not just naïve, but dangerous.”
  • Bolton told the Wall Street Journal that signing the letter informing the U.N. that Washington was renouncing the Rome Treaty to create the ICC “was the happiest moment of my government service.”
  • Regarding efforts to add a verification proposal to the bioweapons convention, Bolton told colleagues in 2001, “It’s dead, dead, dead, and I don’t want it coming back from the dead.”

See Right Web Profile:John Bolton online at: https://rightweb.irc-online.org/ind/bolton/bolton.php

John Negroponte:Policy Hack or Intelligence Reformer

By Tom Barry

(The article below is excerpted from a Right WebAnalysis, whose complete version can be found at: https://rightweb.irc-online.org/analysis/2005/0503negroponte.php)

The CIA has long been caught in the crossfire from the left and the right.Human rights critics and left-center internationalists have charged that theCIA has engineered coups and trained paramilitary units. On its right flank,the agency has been accused by militarists, old guard conservatives, andneoconservatives of dangerously underestimating threats to U.S. nationalsecurity and of being permeated with liberals, Arabists, and socialists.

The CIA has also faced fire from forces inside government that have beencritical of the CIA’s “threat assessments” and “national intelligenceestimates”—including militarists in Congress and the Pentagon, otherintelligence agencies such as the National Reconnaissance Office, and even thePresident’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). Hawks inside andoutside the administration have, since the late 1940s, teamed up in campaignsto emasculate, sideline, and control the CIA.

At the start of the second Bush administration, hawks—in Congress, theneocon think tanks, and the Pentagon—can point to two major achievements intheir campaign to seize command of the government’s intelligence apparatus.First was the appointment of Porter Goss (R-FL), the former chairman of theHouse Intelligence Committee and a longtime ally of Vice President Cheney, tohead the CIA and direct its reform. Second was the nomination of JohnNegroponte to be the first Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

Negroponte comes to the new position with many assets, including his wideexperience and his many accomplishments in implementing diverse U.S. foreignand military policy strategies. There is, however, a major difference betweenbeing an effective instrument of bad U.S. policy and providing goodintelligence for good policymaking.

Critics charge that Negroponte has—both as a member of the National SecurityCouncil and during his various ambassadorships—covered up damaging informationso as to further bad policies. Melvin Goodman, a former CIA official, warned:“Negroponte is tough enough. The question is: Is he independent enough?”Referring to his history of covering up human rights abuses in Honduras,Goodman said: “I think of the role of intelligence in telling truth to power”and then Negroponte’s appointment “doesn’t fit.”

The potential power of the new intelligence czar will likely be determinedby how well he works with the inner circle of the foreign policy team. Thisteam—led by Vice President Cheney, DOD Secretary Rumsfeld, and Deputy DODSecretary Wolfowitz—dominated the national security, foreign policy, andintelligence policies of the first Bush administration.

One sign of the power of the new DNI office will be Negroponte’s ability toassert control over the budgets and directors of the various intelligenceagencies, particularly those that reside within the Pentagon and the rumpintelligence operations created by Rumsfeld and associates.

But it will be his independence as an arbiter of good intelligence, not hisability to assert power over the policy process, that will determine ifNegroponte is really a director of national intelligence—or instead justanother policy hack turning out daily intelligence briefings and nationalintelligence estimates that serve predetermined policy agendas.

See Right Web Profile: John Negroponte: https://rightweb.irc-online.org/ind/negroponte/negroponte.php


  • Funding Nexus for the Right’s Web Bradley Foundation grantees benefit from the principle of trickle-down economics, including: the Project for the New American Century, American Enterprise Institute, National Endowment for Democracy, International Republican Institute, Heritage Foundation, Freedom House, Ethics and Public Policy Center, among most other leading right-wing policy institute and think tanks.
    Right Web Profile Bradley Foundation
  • Taking on the AARP The right-wing USA Next, founded by mass-mail guru Richard Viguerie, aims to dismember the American Association of Retired Persons.
    Right Web Profile USA Next
  • Neocons and Lebanese Exiles Together Working closely with leading neoconservatives, the U.S. Committee for a Free Lebanon is at once pro-Israeli Likud and anti-Syrian Baathist.
    Right Web Profile U.S. Commttee for a Free Lebanon
  • Washington’s Man in Latin America Roger Noriega’s steady climb through the ranks of U.S. diplomacy has been based not on his skills as a statesman or diplomat, but rather on a willingness to do what’s necessary to defend U.S. elite interests abroad. In many instances, those actions have included shady dealings of questionable legality and morality.
    Right Web Profile Roger Noriega


  • Anti-Islamist Crusader: Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum is working to create two new organizations, the Anti-Islamist Institute and the Center for Islamic Pluralism.
    Right Web Analysis Anti-Islamic Crusade Gets Organized
  • Civil Liberties Be Damned In keeping with the pattern of other Bush appointments, Chertoff has proved his loyalty to Bush—and to the Republican Party—as a storm trooper in the failed war on terrorism at home and abroad.
    Right Web Analysis New Homeland Security Czar’s Legal Dragnet

Letters FromOur Readers
(Editors Note: We encourage feedback and comments, which can be sent forpublication through our feedback page, at: https://rightweb.irc-online.org/form_feedback.html.Thank you.)

Re: Neocons and Liberals Together Again

My comment is on your reply to Michael de Socio, with whom I am notacquainted, regarding the alleged Trotskyite (why not “Trotskyist,”the term Trotskyists themselves use?) origins of the neo-cons. Your”evidence” consists of references to Irving Kristol and JamesBurnham. I am familiar with the fact of Burnham’s membership in the Trotskyistmovement during the late 1930’s (less so with Irving Kristol, but I’ll assumefor the sake of discussion that he belonged to the same groups as Burnhamduring these years).

What you do not say is that this group broke with Trotskyism ca. 1939 and begana gradual rightward drift to the point where people like Burnham were alreadyassociated with the political right by the early 1960’s. 1939 is a very longtime ago, and this handful of former Trotskyists have had plenty of time tojettison any ideas that they may have had when, in their youth, they wereTrotskyists. So what if Irving Kristol was a Trotskyist in his youth? Whatwould be more interesting would be proof that WILLIAM Kristol, far more activein neocon circles than Irving, had ever been a Trotskyist. And that I very muchdoubt.

Rarely do these references to the alleged Trotskyist origins of the neocons tryto show that there are intellectual connections with Trotskyism in theircurrent ideas. It would be quite a leap to get from Trotsky’s support of aglobal bottom-up workers and peasants movement, supporting theself-determination of peoples, against international capitalism, to what theneocons represent today, operating at the very command center of Americanimperialism. And how do you square the respect that today’s neocons themselvesclaim for conservative political theorist Leo Strauss with the alleged Trotskyconnection? I can’t fathom what points of agreement there would have beenbetween Strauss and Trotsky.

If the connection between the neocons and Trotskyism is supposed to be theability to hew to a vision and organize over the long haul to bring itabout–something the neocons have succeeded in doing by joining with ReaganRepublicans, making unprincipled blocs with the religious right, and exploitingthe fearful reaction to September 11, this is rather different from the recordof Trotskyism. In some of its variants it has occasionally been successful infostering the united front approach of protest movements, say, in organizingseveral of the massive antiwar demonstrations of the Vietnam war era. Butthe very Trotskyist organizations that were so successful then lost vitalityand split into smaller grouplets when the ’60’s-early ’70’s radicalizationwaned.

– Jan Garrett

Re: Is Iran Next?

Unfortunately, I believe Iran is the real prize for thisZionist neocon agenda. Iran is the only country Israel fears in that regionand with a sovereign militarily capable Iran you will never have a secure Israel.Iraq was just a stepping stone. However, it turned out to be a littlemore of a headache than was expected. I always thought they were going totry and hit Syria next. However, we can’t be bogged down in Iraq and Syria.Therefore, they will try and go after the real prize, Iran and skip Syria.Expect a tremendous PR campaign and whole a lot of lies andmisrepresentation if they do try and go down this route.

– Irfan A. Khan < irfan_khan@freddiemac.com>

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From the Wires

The Trumpian new regional order in the Middle East is predicated on strongman rule, disregard for human rights, Sunni primacy over Iran and other Shia centers of power, continued military support for pro-American warring parties regardless of the unlawfulness of such wars, and Israeli hegemony.

A comparison of U.S. nuclear diplomacy with Iran and the current version with North Korea puts the former in a good light and makes the latter look disappointing. Those with an interest in curbing the dangers of proliferating nuclear weapons should hope that the North Korea picture will improve with time. But whether it does or not, the process has put into perspective how badly mistaken was the Trump administration’s trashing of the Iran nuclear agreement.

Numerous high profile Trump administration officials maintain close ties with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. In today’s America, disparaging Islam is acceptable in ways that disparaging other religions is not. Given the continuing well-funded campaigns by the Islamophobes and continuing support from their enablers in the Trump administration, starting with the president himself, it seems unlikely that this trend will be reversed any time soon.

The Trump administration’s nuclear proliferation policy is now in meltdown, one which no threat of “steely resolve”—in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s words—will easily contain. It is hemorrhaging in part because the administration has yet to forge a strategy that consistently and credibly signals a feasible bottom line that includes living with—rather than destroying—regimes it despises or fears. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle must call for a new model that has some reasonable hope of restraining America’s foes and bringing security to its Middle East allies.

Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare: “Enough! Stop this madness!” Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown, or white, that person will deserve the nation’s gratitude and the support of the electorate. Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity.

To bolster the president’s arguments for cutting back immigration, the administration recently released a fear-mongering report about future terrorist threats. Among the potential threats: a Sudanese national who, in 2016, “pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS”; an Uzbek who “posted a threat on an Uzbek-language website to kill President Obama in an act of martyrdom on behalf of ISIS”; a Syrian who, in a plea agreement, “admitted that he knew a member of ISIS and that while in Syria he participated in a battle against the Syrian regime, including shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nusrah,” an al-Qaeda offshoot.

The recent appointment of purveyors of anti-Muslim rhetoric to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom exposes the cynical approach Republicans have taken in promoting religious freedom.