Monday, September 10, 2007

The chilling clarity (and silence) of John Bolton, US Neocon

If you missed it, it's worth listening to the interview with John Bolton, former (unconfirmed) US Ambassador to the UN, on Radio Four's PM tonight (it's about 15 minutes in).

George Bush is forever banging on about spreading democracy across the world. Indeed, one of his retirement plans is to set up a "Freedom Centre", to encourage international democracy.

It is remarkable that George Bush's enthusiasm for world democracy stops at the Pakistani border. It's as if there is a sort of force field around Pakistan that flips Bush's logic on its head, unexplained, cheerfully accepting a dictatorship.

Mr Bolton, with chilling clarity, explained why this is. Basically, Musharraf has nukes and is cracking down on Al-Qaeda. Hold onto nurse for fear of something worse.

So, democracy is fine. But where there are nukes held and terrorists to crack down on, a dictator is best.

Bolton put it as protecting "command and control". The US, therefore, prefers "command and control" under a dictator than under a democracy. In Pakistan.

It all goes back to that interview before George Bush's election when he was asked the name of the new leader of Pakistan. "General" he answered. "General who?" pressed the interviewer. "General" replied Bush with one of his frat boy smirks.

It was amusing at the time, but, upon reflection now, it reveals, perhaps, a deeper truth. I suspect that Bush didn't actually care which General was in charge. He was just happy with it being a General who was a "good man".

The PM interview had one remarkable aspect. John Bolton said that terrorist-searching efforts in Pakistan "take priority over democracy". Interviewer Eddie Mair allowed Bolton to expand on his answer by pausing.

I actually joined the interview a this point, listening on Long Wave. There was a long silence (ten seconds long in the end). I wondered whether I was about to treated to an Emergency Test Match Special ("The Batsman's Holding, the Bowler's Throat") or a Hurricane-strength Shipping Forecast. But no. It was a sort of Mexican Stand-off. As Eddie Mair says on his blog, he (Mair) "blinked first" and asked: "Why?"

John Bolton was not born yesterday.

It reminds me of the advice I have always been given for speaking with auditors:

Answer the question, then stop talking.

No comments:

Post a Comment