INTELLIGENCE FAILURE….Steve Clemons points to an illuminating article in The Economist that explores how John Bolton has worked to undermine US foreign policy over the past few years.

At the hearings, Lincoln Chafee, a liberal Republican senator from Rhode Island, asked Mr Bolton about a speech he had given in South Korea on July 31st 2003. In it he called Kim Jong Il a “tyrannical dictator” who had turned his country into a “hellish nightmare”. Mr Bolton said the speech had been cleared by the State Department (where he was under-secretary for arms control) and represented administration policy. But the speech’s timing was awkward, to say the least. It came just before the first meeting in six-party talks designed to deal with North Korea’s announced nuclear-weapons programme.

Incensed, the North Koreans demanded to see Jack Pritchard, the State Department official responsible for the talks. In public, they called Mr Bolton “human scum”. In private, they were not flattering either. They threatened to walk away from the talks. Mr Pritchard told them that only the president and the secretary of state spoke for America (something that the then secretary of state Colin Powell had already told the North Koreans), that American policy had not changed, and neither had the date or place of the talks. Mollified, the North Koreans agreed to show up.

According to State Department officials, Mr Bolton (like the North Koreans) then went ballistic, apparently because Mr Pritchard had not defended his remarks to the Koreans. In the hearings, Mr Bolton accused Mr Pritchard of being out of step with government policy and suggested he had resigned because of that. In fact, Mr Pritchard had offered his resignation months before. He points out that the six-party talks were government policy, that he helped save them and that it was Mr Bolton who was “out of step” in his entire career at State. “He marches to a different drum,” said Mr Pritchard, “and the drum is out of tune.”

Nothing is more conducive to the kinds of “intelligence failures” the US has been having lately than superiors who bully researchers if they present evidence that doesn’t support their agenda. It’s amazing this man is being considered for a diplomatic position.

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