George W. Bush administration Appointee to the U.N. and Right Wing Think Tank Stalwart John Bolton’s Criticism of Obama’s Foreign Policy Shows Again Disregard of Reality and Judgement.


 Harry C. Blaney III

John Bolton’s “Ukraine’s drama, Obama’s weakness” (LA Times December 12, 2013), seems to be mostly an opportunity to take cheap potshots at Obama’s foreign affairs leadership via attacking America’s handling of the complex and fast changing situation in the Ukraine. The op-ed is wrong on both its general evaluation of President Obama’s stewardship of American interests abroad as well as the situation and American response to the events in the Ukraine and beyond.

First, the current American foreign and national security team headed by President Obama and Secretary John Kerry have accomplished much more for America than Bolton and his Bush league team of recent Republican presidents. Earlier, Obama accomplished the New START Treaty that reduced nuclear weapons of both Russia and the United States and with a system of verifiable inspections which otherwise would not have existed. Least we forget, Obama also got us out of the quagmire of Iraq which was based on a lie about “weapons of mass destruction” and cost America thousands of lives. Bolton would have us still there. We need to remember this is the same person who wanted to decapitate the U.N., supported the Iraq attack, and often urged military action over diplomacy and multilateral cooperation with others. 

In his second term, President Obama initiated a staged withdrawal now planned for Afghanistan in 2014 which will save countless American lives and resources into the billions in a land led by leaders more interested in plundering their nation than in protecting their citizens. That leader was picked by Bolton’s comrades in the his beloved “war hawk” Republican administration.

To recap the many accomplishments and initiatives of the Obama/Kerry/Hagel team includes the move towards a diplomatic negotiated understanding in place of war with Iran over its nuclear program. The first interim agreement was a clear win for Obama and for putting a check on Iran’s nuclear military ambitions. Further, Obama and Kerry are now committed to trying for a key difficult agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. He has gotten in Syria a path to rid that nation of chemical weapons. He has unilaterally taken steps to reduce greenhouse pollution to save our planet from existential climate disasters. And not least, he has proposed a groundbreaking set of Atlantic and Pacific trade agreements that will act as a stimulant to trade and investment on a grand global scale.

With respect in the Ukraine, where Bolton seems fixated on sophomoric criticism, he is demonstrably wrong that we are not engaged, rather we have a diplomatic full court press that rightly must have the EU in the lead as its focus is its relationship agreement with the Ukraine. This is a key reason for the upheavals we are seeing. That is why we have supported the EU efforts to calm the situation. But President Obama himself, Vice President Biden, and Secretary Kerry have all been actively engaged in this issue, and not to forget my former foreign service colleagues that are working effectively each hour and each day to formulate a path towards Ukrainian stability, democracy, and engagement with the West. This is a time when Western leaders need to be acting with care and is not a way to exacerbate an already volatile situation. The country is divided and the West can best act quietly to ensure that the Ukraine has options to integrate with Europe but that will given the situation in Ukraine not be done overnight. But we must remember it is the Ukrainian people that will have the final say.

In sum, in my 40 years of active engagement in diplomacy and foreign policy issues I have rarely seen a more competent and more active and indeed successful American foreign affairs leadership in what can only be described a daunting and difficult time. What is needed from Amb. Bolton and his neo-con and “war hawk” colleagues is serious workable options and an examination of the pros and cons of any given action and who should pay the price of their policies.  Those who’s main aim is to attack President Obama on partisan grounds rather than support wise policies in difficult times and seek, as we have decades earlier, a bipartisan stance, and to act for the common good of both America and global cooperation, and a more open world.

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