Jesus, to think I trusted the BBC.
First up on BBC World News this morning- John Bolton, on why Bill Clinton's successful rescue of the two kidnapped journalists in North Korea was "bad for America on balance".
His ostensible reason was that somehow, Bill Clinton going there "conferred prestige" on North Korea and "made them stronger", gave them a "propaganda victory", or whatever.
I suspected the real reason is that Laura Ling and Euna Lee were working as correspondents for Al Gore's TV network Current TV, and as such John Bolton didn't really give a shit whether they lived or died, but I digress.
The BBC journalist used Bolton's bloviating as proof that "opinion is divided" in America over whether or not this diplomatic mission was a good thing.
Bullshit. Just because John Bolton hates diplomacy, or really any form of foreign policy that doesn't involve big explosions and loud noise, doesn't mean that "opinion is divided". What Americans saw was one of their former presidents successfully bringing two pretty young women home from a place the media tells them is awful and bad, and that's what the majority of us are going to take away from this.
There is not a single person, outside of the hard-right clique that dominates the upper echelons of American foreign policy, and the sort of people that soak all day in the right wing media and absorb their thinking reflexively, that is spending even one second worrying whether or not we've "conferred undo prestige" on North Korea or "rewarded them for bad behavior". And I highly doubt that people like John Bolton even take themselves seriously-- people like him, or Bill Kristol, or any of them, are really just looking to start another war.
It should also be noted that not days, but hours before this successful rescue, Bolton had already declared it a failure. I won't link the article here, mostly because WaPo editorial page editor Fred Hiatt can suck it, but, well, just read this:
The reporters' arrest, show trial and subsequent imprisonment (twelve years hard labor) was hostage taking, essentially an act of state terrorism. So the Clinton trip is a significant propaganda victory for North Korea, whether or not he carried an official message from President Obama. Despite decades of bipartisan U.S. rhetoric about not negotiating with terrorists for the release of hostages, it seems that the Obama administration not only chose to negotiate, but to send a former president to do so...
While the United States is properly concerned whenever its citizens are abused or held hostage, efforts to protect them should not create potentially greater risks for other Americans in the future. Yet that is exactly the consequence of visits by former presidents or other dignitaries as a form of political ransom to obtain their release.
Read between the lines. North Koreans are "terrorists". While we are "properly concerned" about our citizens being held hostage, we can't use negotiation or diplomacy to secure their release, because then we would be "negotiating with terrorists", which is anti-American.
So, what then? What does Mr. Bolton suggest we do? Continue to taunt Kim Jong Il with our high-minded intransigence? Or better yet, for a guy like Bolton, fly some bad-ass special forces there in the middle of the night, blow some shit up, and fly them out of there on a helicopter with TV cameras in tow? Is that what he wants?
Or would he rather they sit in prison and rot, sacrificed to the God of American Exceptionalism? Left to die for some ephemeral notion of national superiority? Is this what he wants?
Bolton doesn't say. He doesn't have to; that's not what he gets paid to do. To wit-
The writer, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute...
In other words, Bolton draws a check for poisoning our political discourse with half-baked nonsense. He doesn't have to propose an alternative- he just gets paid to whine, in much the same way that Bush paid him to say mean things about the U.N., and sent him there as an ambassador to basically wave America's d**k around and remind everyone that we weren't going to listen to anything anyone else had to say.
But all that is par for the course for American political discourse; I expected a little more out of the BBC.
Actually, now that I'm writing this post, I don't really blame the BBC- Bolton's POS editorial got top billing on the Washington Post editorial page yesterday, and as they're supposed to be one of our papers of record, I could see how the BBC could get bamboozled into thinking that Bolton actually represents American opinion outside of the tiny right-wing cabal that he runs with.
All the blame really goes to Fred Hiatt, the same man who brought you Sarah Palin's debut as a "policy expert", for conferring undue prestige on John Bolton.
Cross-Posted (with more provocative title and more unrestrained prose, if you're into that) at beatpanda