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Posted by on Jun 5, 2005 in At TMV | 0 comments

Bolton Alleged To Be Behind Illegal Firing

Yet another news story has surfaced to give a big, fat black eye to John Bolton — but in hard-nosed political terms will it really matter in terms of derailing his likely approval as the new U.S. Ambassador to the UN?

The latest comes from the Washington Post and, as usual, it doesn’t instill in readers an impression that Bolton is the Best OR the Brightest — and again raises the question: you mean to tell us that the Republican party and State Department don’t have ANY other candidates that would be easier to confirm and more qualified than this one? The latest:

John R. Bolton flew to Europe in 2002 to confront the head of a global arms-control agency and demand he resign, then orchestrated the firing of the unwilling diplomat in a move a U.N. tribunal has since judged unlawful, according to officials involved.

A former Bolton deputy says the U.S. undersecretary of state felt Jose Bustani “had to go,” particularly because the Brazilian was trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad. That might have helped defuse the crisis over alleged Iraqi weapons and undermined a U.S. rationale for war.

Bustani, who says he got a “menacing” phone call from Bolton at one point, was removed by a vote of just one-third of member nations at an unusual special session of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), at which the United States cited alleged mismanagement in calling for his ouster.

The United Nations’ highest administrative tribunal later condemned the action as an “unacceptable violation” of principles protecting international civil servants. The OPCW session’s Swiss chairman now calls it an “unfortunate precedent” and Bustani a “man with merit.”

“Many believed the U.S. delegation didn’t want meddling from outside in the Iraq business,” said the retired Swiss diplomat, Heinrich Reimann. “That could be the case.”

Bolton’s handling of the multilateral showdown takes on added significance now as he looks for U.S. Senate confirmation as early as this week as U.N. ambassador, a key role on the international stage, and as more details have emerged in Associated Press interviews about what happened in 2002.

A spokeswoman told AP Bolton, keeping a low profile during his confirmation process, would have no comment for this article.

Bolton has been criticized for supposed bullying of junior U.S. officials and for efforts to get them fired. Bustani, a senior official under the U.N. umbrella, says Bolton used a threatening tone with him and “tried to order me around.”

None of this instills confidence in Bolton. But by now the question is: will all the news stories, talking head’s skepticism, reservations voiced by any Republicans matter? This vote has become a matter of honor for the White House and, in real political terms, they’ve backed themselves into a corner where they truly MUST win it.

It was bad enough for the White House that the “nuclear option” (temporarily) fizzled, making Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and President George Bush look like outmanuevered lovers of divisiness/polarization rather than compromise/unity. It now is a cold political fact of life that if Bush loses this one it’ll be a big political body blow.

Can we also assume that some GOPers who might have thought of splitting with Bush over Bolton nomination will now go along with him on this one to help preserve his (and their) political clout? There is no question that coming on the heels of the nuclear option and Terri Schiavo issues a Bolton defeat would be a blow to Bush’s power on Capital Hill. Bottom line: Bolton’s nomination will trickle through (unless something worse comes up).

REMINDER TO READERS: We have long contended that Bolton’s REAL problem is THIS (the linked post refers to when his nomination was on the downswing, but its revolutionary thesis is as valid todayas it was then).