Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Open Letter to John Bolton

Dear Mr. Bolton,

I was recently about half-way through reading your letter to President-elect Obama when I asked myself this question: Why should I, Barack Obama, or anyone else for that matter, take any advice from you seriously?

You sir were a loyal soldier in the neo-conservative army that waged an all out assault on rationality and dissenting opinion in the lead-up to the Iraq War in 2002 and 2003. Your work directly contributed toward the invasion and occupation of Iraq which has resulted in the loss of thousands of U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. You were a member of the Project for the New American Century which tried to influence the Clinton Administration to adopt the same preemptive doctrine that you later were able to implement under the Bush Administration. This type of behavior has led to the decline in respect of the United States throughout the world and the spread of terrorist activities into countries that previously had little to no activity.

Your disregard for world opinion when it conflicts with so-called "United States interests" is a prime example of an unilateralist philosophy that has led this country into the giant mess that this new administration must now attempt to dig us out of. Why in the world should an Obama Administration take the advice of someone who is part of the ideology that the American people rejected so enthusiastically in this election?

In your letter, you advise President-elect Obama to:

"...resolve disagreements among your advisers, and not allow drift, and you must insist on discipline once you make a decision. If anyone disagrees with this approach, you may invite them to do the honourable thing and resign, or not sign on in the first place."

This advice is dictatorial. While you acknowledge that President Bush suffered from only hearing "one voice in his ear at critical points", you then advise Obama to take the same 'my way or the highway' approach to leading. The voters have rejected the idea of the imperial presidency Mr. Bolton. The strength of a leader does not simply reside in the ability to make decisions, but to listen to various viewpoints, constantly review new information, and be willing to adapt to a situation when things do not go as planned. In case you are not aware, things over the last eight years have not quite gone as planned for the American people. It is time for a new leadership strategy.

This new strategy should include a technique that you have not always been helpful in implementing, this is the strategy of diplomacy. It has not been effective nor will it continue to be effective to make statements such as "...there is no United Nations" and to suggest that it would make no difference if the UN lost ten floors of its building. You sound like a bully on the playground when you say things like:

"The United States makes the UN work when when it wants it to work and that is exactly the way it should be because the only basic question, only question for the United States, is what's in our national interest and if you don't like that, then I'm sorry but that is the fact."

This belittling of the international community is not what we needed eight years ago and it is certainly not what we need now. Despite this, you advise President-elect Obama to:

"...not let global 'public opinion' about the United States, from Albania to Zimbabwe, dissuade you from doing what you think is right for America. Your job is to defend and advance our interests and values, a task which invariably will displease our adversaries, and even many of our friends, especially those who wish we were, well, more European in our behaviour and attitudes...we should try to shift international public opinion to support our policies, not modify our policies to try to satisfy international public opinion."

Have you learned no lessons from any of the imperialist policies that you have supported? Do you not acknowledge that this type of thinking has led to out of control military spending, an increase in Al Qaeda's presence in Iraq, and a decline in American power and influence throughout the world? While you may think that you are advocating ways for a President Obama to be strong in actuality you are advocating the same stubborn ideology of the last eight years. Your words of advice read as a desperate last attempt for your neo-conservative agenda to fall upon ears that have already rejected your imperialist view of the world.

I urge President-elect Obama to say "thanks but no thanks" to the advice which you offer in your letter, this country can no longer afford to follow your advice. We have a lot of repair work to do and ripping open old wounds through bullying and unilateralism is not going to be an effective way to help this country heal.

This article can also be found at: http://www.cincinnatibeacon.com

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