When John Bolton's nomination to be Ambassador to the UN was announced, the Republican talking points were locked in:" he's a guy with experience who knows how to get things done." The response from the opposition were some rather disparaging quotes he made about the UN, and it all blew over becuase no one really cared all that much.
But now there's some video. It really makes you think. Watch it.
It's one thing to read a quote by a guy saying "the UN doesn't exist." It's another thing to see him shouting (realy shouting) at a bunch of other diplomats: "The United States make the UN work when it wants it to work, and that is exactly the way it should be because the only question, the only question for the United States is what's in our national interest."
It's this beligerent mix of imperialistic power -- "we make it work when we want to make it work" -- and isolationist mindset -- "the only question is what's in our interest" -- that I find so disturbing in the Bush Doctrine. It is a cocktail of some of the worst elements in the US national character. It is the dark side of "exceptionalism," the attitude that we are special, we are powerful, and therefore things should work out according to our desires. Why? Because.
This is dangerous stuff! The reality of the situation is we are not that powerful; we are not exempt from history, and we cannot exist as we currently do without the support of other nations around the world.
From an economic perspective we have lost our base of industrial productivity and now maintain ourselves through consumption and finance. Now, if we were running a tight ship (e.g. balancing our budget, investing in infrastructure, living within our means) that kind of post-industrial information economy might work. But we're not doing that. We're in a structural decline. Our currency is dependent on the generosity of Asian central banks; our consumption is financed through runinous consumer debt; and our corporations have taken the concept of financialization to the logical extreme, maximizing shareholder value by any means necesssary. All this while our educational institutions crumble, our middle class dwindles and our base of small business and enterprise is ground under by the advance of franchises, big box retail and foreign-made goods created with what really essentially amounts to slave labor.
This is not a strong economy. It is a large one, the largest on the planet, but it is fundimentally unhealthy. It is fat. It is dumb. It is greedy. And it is bleeding. This cannot last. In our lifetimes we will either lead the world by reforming our own systems, or we will drag the world down with our decadence.
From a military perspective as well, we are really not as muscular as the hawks would like you to believe. Attempting to win the peace in Iraq is straining our resources to the limit, and in the paradigm of 4th Generation Warfare simple killing power is not enough to create security. We cannot bomb our way out of our problems -- we must prevail in the moral sphere. At the moment we are failing mightily to do this. No matter how much we may pat ourselves on the back for being "liberators," the truth is no one throws roses down in the paths of American troops. They plant bombs by the side of the road. This isn't the sort of situation you can get our of through force alone; you have to be wise, and willing to let other people get what they want. One really can't imagine Bolton helping out much in this respect.
And thta's pretty much the point. Much like Paul Wolfowitz's nomination to head the World Bank, Bolton's nomination is a message from the People In Charge that they are going to continue to have it there way, and the rest of the world can either get on board or get bent. It will probably continue to work for a while, but it takes us further along a badly charted course. As some point, the shit has to start adding up. Just watch this video and think about what it means that this guy has been hand-picked to represent the United States to the rest of the world. It's a sign of the times.
If you live in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, or Wisconsin, you have a Sentator -- someone who is supposed to represent you -- on the Foreign Relations Committee. They're the people who will evaluate Bolton for his job. If you live in one of these states, pick up the phone. If you've never called your Congressperson or Senator, now's a good time to get the experience. It's really not hard, and it does matter. America needs to have this conversation.