Saturday, April 30, 2005

Look in the Phone Book

Another opponent of John Bolton's appointment to be UN Ambassador has surfaced. The New York Times reported yesterday that
    A fourth senior member of Colin L. Powell's team at the State Department expressed strong reservations on Friday about the nomination of John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations.
The official, A. Elizabeth Jones, is a veteran diplomat who stepped down in February as assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia…
"I don't know if he's incapable of negotiation, but he's unwilling," Ms. Jones said in an interview. She said she believed that "the fundamental problem," if Mr. Bolton were to become United Nations ambassador, would be a reluctance on his part to make the kinds of minor, symbolic concessions necessary to build consensus among other governments and maintain the American position.
There is some on-the-record evidence that Ms. Jones does not hold Republicans in high esteem. Frank Gaffney, in a Washington Times article in April of 2003, reported that
    …Elizabeth Jones, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs told a Portuguese newspaper that what Mr. [Newt] Gingrich said is "garbage. ... What Gingrich says does not interest me. He is an idiot and you can publish that."
Does this indicate that she holds a "reluctance to make the kinds of minor, symbolic concessions necessary to build consensus" with Republicans?

Ms. Jones also has some genocide-related mud on her shoes. Armenia is very sensitive to the fact that Turkey persistently denies the scope of the 1915 Armenian genocide, and Turkey's role in it. Concerning the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation initiative, the Armenian Weekly reported in the fall of 2001:
    "During a recent visit to Armenia, US Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones denied any US government involvement in the 'private' dialogue [the reconciliation initiative], but Western media reports have said the State Department actively encouraged the secret negotiations." (RFE/RL, September 8, 2001)
"Sadly this revelation only compounds the serious credibility issues created by the State Department's long-standing complicity in Turkey's denials of the Armenian Genocide," added Hachikian. "The State Department certainly owes the Armenian-American community a full accounting of its role in this commission and an explanation about what appears, by all accounts, to be a clear pattern of misrepresentation aimed at denying American citizens information to which they are rightfully entitled, information which they require in order to make informed judgments about profound issues of public policy--namely our national response to the crime of genocide."
This is the same Elizabeth Jones who cancelled her subscription to National Review after Joel Mowbray exposed the State Department's disgusting "Visa Express" program. The only problem was that her subscription was a complimentary one, sent to her gratis by National Review. Talk about tacky gestures!

Any opposition to John R. Bolton by A. Elizabeth Jones comes as no surprise. Given her past, one would consider her thumbs-down to be a recommendation for the man.

But this incident illustrates the major problem with the State Department: its political appointees, who owe their offices to the President they ostensibly serve, work actively to undermine the policies of that President. The State Department is riddled through with them like termites in an old stump.

Presumably the President picks from a limited supply of experienced stripey-pants people in order to to make his appointments, and then ends up with all these ravenous termites ready to digest the wood at State to further their own careers. But is there no solution to this problem?

A new paradigm is in order. Perhaps we could take a page from William F. Buckley, and staff the State Department with first 2,000 names in the Washington DC telephone directory.


Collin said...

State is underappreciated because it values strategic stability over tactical instability. Bolton has already caused enough damage and is an individual with demonstrated proclivity to lose control.

Baron Bodissey said...

Regardless of your opinion of the best strategic plan of operation at State, the fact remains that its employees -- both civil servants and those appointed by the President -- have worked actively to undermine the policies of the administration they ostensibly serve. This is not a healthy modus operandi, and may even damage national security.

Personally, I'm in favor of some well-chosen "tactical instability". Stability is overrated, and its track record in the last half-century is lousy. Papa Doc's Haiti was "stable", after all.

Bolton's "demonstrated proclivity" depends on cherry-picking the observers of it. There are a number of reliable witnesses who disagree.