links for 2007-12-19
links for 2007-12-20

Gideon Rachman on Former Acting U.N. Ambassador John Bolton

20071208_delong_micro.jpg 200 proof snark, in the Financial Times. Gideon starts out by noting that "diplomat" Bolton rejects pacta sunt servanda, and goes on from there. The high point is Gideon's noting that Bolton calls his book Surrender Is Not an Option, and observes that "[w]it came to Vietnam, surrender was not an option for Bolton because he never got close enough to the enemy to make it feasible..."

Here's Gideon:

FT.com / Home UK / UK - Striking title, shame about the content: In a chapter on arms control, [Bolton] writes that he saw international "treaties as essentially only political documents, and the whole debate over what was 'legally binding' in 'international law' as just another theological issue"... a statement full of interesting implications... for anyone who might... negotiate a treaty with Bolton.... At one point, he does acknowledge that he took steps to avoid being drafted to fight in Vietnam. He writes: "I made the cold calculation that I wasn't going to waste time on a futile struggle," adding: "Looking back, I am not terribly proud of this calculation." The whole episode is dealt with in a paragraph.... [It] would be interesting to hear a little more on this subject, from a man who has given his book the bellicose title Surrender is Not an Option. When it came to Vietnam, surrender was not an option for Bolton because he never got close enough to the enemy to make it feasible.

Bolton is a strikingly stilted writer, which makes his book rather lifeless.... [H]e got on very badly with the UK delegation to the UN.... The fact that Bolton found it so hard to get on with one of America's closest allies suggests that he was not ideally cut out for the role of diplomat.... [T]his is a disappointing work. Bolton writes badly, cannot tell a story, and has no interesting new ideas. Other than that, highly recommended.

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