If he will accept it, I will ask John Bolton to be Secretary of State. But I will only appoint him if he will agree that his first job is the complete and thorough transformation fo the State Department and the replacement of the current Foreign Service culture with a new entrepreneurial and aggressive culture dedicated to the proposition that defending freedom and defending America is the first business of the State Department, not appeasing opponents.–Newt Gingrich
There’s little that illustrates the difference between Liberals and Conservatives more than Newt Gingrich’s announcement that he would ask former UN Ambassador John Bolton to be his Secretary of State. First we’ll need to get past the presumptuousness of discussing Cabinet appointees before even winning the GOP nomination, much less the general election, but that’s typical Gingrich- over-confident, egomaniacal, and too full of himself by half. True, the odds of Gingrich becoming President are roughly the same as my being elected Queen of England, but Gingrich’s speech, and it’s reception among the Far Right, provide a glimpse into the reflexive, fear-driven hive-mind of today’s GOP.
Republicans are far more comfortable with decisive, destructive military action than diplomacy. Mitt Romney has stated that he would require that one of every five federal dollars be spent on defense. Democrats find themselves wondering what sort of America we’ll be living in when killing is a higher priority than education and health care.
Bolton, whom the Senate refused to confirm as UN envoy in 2006, is no one’s idea of a diplomat. Pugnacious, undiplomatic, and an unabashed proponent of projecting American military power whenever and wherever he deems appropriate, the prospect of Bolton as our country’s top diplomat would be humorous if he wasn’t so belligerent. In his defense, Bolton has never made any attempt to camouflage his burning desire for war with Iran…or any other country he might deem a threat. His “shoot first” diplomatic style bolsters Gingrich’s self-image as a firm American exceptionalist who believes that America possesses both the right and the responsibility to protect its interest through military intervention when it’s deemed necessary. A Gingrich/Bolton foreign policy would be muscular, robust, and forceful…which leaves little breathing space for diplomatic negotiation and nuance.
As if Bolton’s aggressive distaste for diplomacy and negotiation wasn’t problem enough, there’s also the matter of his association with noted anti-Islam agitators such as Pamela Geller. IF Gingrich is elected, can America afford a chief diplomat with a long-standing reputation for belligerence, bellicosity, and hatred of Islam? Perhaps a better question would be if America could afford a President who would nominate a Secretary of State whose driving philosophy is “Ready. Fire. Aim.”…and who views an entire religion as the enemy.
And what of Gingrich’s statement that as President he’d charge Bolton with the task of creating within the American diplomatic community a new “aggressive culture dedicated to the proposition that defending freedom and defending America is the first business of the State Department“? What is the international community to make of an America willing, even eager, to bully and intimidate lesser (i.e.- not America) countries?
It’s always difficult to know how much of Gingrich’s statements are bluster and how much are intended to be taken seriously. In a primary season where no Republican can be too far to the Right, it’s possible that Gingrich may be preaching to the choir. To those who believe in the power of and the need for diplomacy, Gingrich’s words are chilling, in that they represent his stated intent to make America the unquestioned bully of the international community.
Ready. Fire. Aim.
(More at What Would Jack Do?)