Politico: Forget Actual Arms Control Experts! Bring On John Bolton.

Also published here.

Remember John Bolton? He was the guy President George W. Bush appointed as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, and later as Ambassador to the United Nations. He was famous for a number of things, not the least of which was his complicity in lies that the US used to justify the war in Iraq. This is John Bolton in a nutshell:

As [John Bolton] settled into his office on the sixth floor of the State Department in the spring of 2001, Bolton placed on his coffee table a memento from his days in the conservative revolution: a hand grenade mounted on a small wooden base with a plaque that read “Truest Reaganaut”. He quickly went to work dismantling the structure of international arms control…

– From Us vs. Them: How A Half Century of Conservativism Has Undermined America’s Security, by Peter Scoblic.

After his resignation in 2006, and after the Bush administration ended, you’d think that John Bolton and his compatriots would have faded into obscurity, with their diatribes known only to members of conservative think tanks and crowds of tipsy neocons on cruise ships.

Sadly, that has not been the case. John Bolton, Frank Gaffney, Richard Perle, and others have all taken up residence on the op-ed pages of the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal, and a variety of conservative magazines, where they have been railing against President Obama’s policies ever since he took office.

I suppose it’s understandable; after all, those are fairly conservative publications, and have to fill their opinion pages with something.

So, you’d think that Politico might be different, given that their official mission statement includes this:

There is more need than ever for reporting that presents the news fairly, not through an ideological prism.

Somewhere along the way, they apparentely got lost. It’s really quite disingenuous, and very lazy “journalism”, to gather up quotes by right-wing pundits, including John Bolton, with very little credibility in the realm of arms control and international relations, and present them as credible experts.

I’m looking at you, Politico, specifically yesterday’s article:

Right rips Obama on defense

While much of the nation’s political attention has been focused on health care and the economy, a familiar group of conservative intellectuals is seizing on the latest Obama administration national security initiatives to develop a perennial and often effective political narrative: that Democrats are weak on defense and that the country is in danger.

The critique expands on the somewhat older issue of the handling of terror suspects, including the Fort Hood attack, and now weaves in the Nuclear Posture Review unveiled earlier this month, the proposed Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, President Barack Obama’s nuclear proliferation summit in Washington, defense spending and the latest twists in the Middle East to create a portrait of Obama similar to that deployed during the presidential race: of a naive dreamer, a utopian who caters to America’s most dangerous adversaries while slighting America’s friends.

And, in an added strand, it manages to connect all of this with Obama’s domestic agenda.

Any selection of recent opinion in The Weekly Standard and the National Review Online is illustrative.

It goes on to quote John Bolton on Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review, saying that the administration’s road map for our nuclear weapons will somehow lead North Korea and Iran to attack us. It quotes another writer in the National Review, saying that all of the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons and security policies are expressed in “Orwellian” language, and will result in us being vulnerable to attack from (you guessed it) North Korea and Iran.

The quotes go on and on, and only in the last couple of paragraphs does the author interview a retired military official who has the national security chops to refute any of the claims.

The article is a veritable love letter to people who have zero credibility in the area of arms control. These are the very last people on Earth who should be considered “experts” on anything. They’re pundits at best. Why is Politico giving them a platform?

President Obama’s nuclear weapons and nuclear security policies have the backing of people who actually count. The good folks over at the Nukes of Hazard blog have rounded up quite a few quotes (click here and here). I’ll leave you with two of them.

From Secretary of Defense Robert Gates:

“We have more robust deterrents today, because we’ve added to the nuclear deterrent missile defense. And…with the phased adaptive approach that the president has approved, we will have significantly greater capability to deter the Iranians, because we will have a significantly greater missile defense. We’re also developing this conventional prompt global strike, which really hadn’t gone anywhere in the — in the Bush administration, but has been embraced by the new administration. That allows us to use long range missiles with conventional warheads. So we have — we have more tools if you will in the deterrents kit bag than — than we used to.”

From General Kevin Chilton, Commander of the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM, from this pdf) :

Based on [STRATCOM’s] analysis and through continued discussions with DoD leadership, my view is that [the NPR and New START] and associated budgetary investments continue to support these deterrence requirements, and that the New START agreement warhead and platform numbers provide appropriate military flexibility.


I am confident that the NPR and New START outline an approach that continues to enable the men and women of U.S. Strategic Command to deliver global security for America today and in the future.

Politico is clearly not looking for the opinion of those whose jobs are directly influenced by the President’s nuclear weapons policies. If they’d asked, they obviously wouldn’t have gotten an answer they’d like.

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