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John Bolton and the Peter Principle


Fri, Aug 5th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

While Congress was dashing for the exits so that they could get back to their districts to tell voters what a wonderful job they were doing in Wash-ing-ton-dee-cee, old quick draw George was presenting John Bolton as the next ambassador to the UN.

Bolton has a Wyatt Earp look about him, a walrus mustache dominating a rather uninteresting bespectacled face. That it sits on a frumpy frame only embellishes Bolton’s dowdy appearance - which makes one think that he sure must be smart because God knows he ain’t pretty.

But Bolton’s rise to the lofty realms of diplomacy has little to do with his looks nor his intelligence and everything to do with his neoconservative credentials and his unflagging loyalty to an administration short on critical thinkers.

The fact that Bush had to end-run Bolton’s nomination process with a recess appointment only adds what Senator Edward Kennedy called “a cloud over Mr. Bolton’s credibility at the UN.”

In May of 2005, 102 former U.S. diplomats and State Department officials (70 of whom served under Republican administrations) wrote to the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Luger and Joseph Biden, stating that Bolton “is the wrong man for the position at a time when the UN is entering a critically important phase of modernization.” They urged that the Senate reject Bolton’s nomination.

Known for his devout adherence to the company-line and heavy-handed temper tantrums in working with subordinants, Bolton once said that “if the UN lost 10 stories it would not make much difference.”

Bolton’s ascendency to the UN job is one more example of this administration’s allegiance to the Peter Principle - the notion that in a hierarchically structured administration, people tend to be promoted up to their “level of incompetence.”

Given that, Bolton should serve George Bush well.

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