There's a rather worrisome meme going around progressive bloggers nowadays - "if we all ignore John Bolton, his cabal will go away". Bolton hated the second Dubya term because it pretended diplomacy - demanding as preconditions everything that was supposedly to be negotiated and forcing Europe to push that pretense as America's proxies - rather than just invading. Now, his prescription is only changed from 2003 in that he realises that a US ensnared in two wars he and his neocon buddies pushed makes it unlikley that America can do the attacking on its own: he writes "Options on Iran are more limited, but meaningful efforts at regime change and assisting Israel should it decide to strike Iran's nuclear facilities would be good first steps."
Steve Benen is the latest in a line of progressives I've seen suggesting that Bolton should just be ignored:
Bolton, of course, doesn't need an excuse. He called for a war against Iran over and over and over again. It doesn't matter that his idea is crazy, Bolton has access to conservative media outlets and he knows how to use them.
One of the more ridiculous personnel decisions Bush has ever made was nominating Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, fighting for his confirmation, and then giving Bolton a recess appointment when senators balked. One of the more accurate personnel assessments Bush has ever made came a year later when the president said, "Let me just say from the outset that I don't consider Bolton credible."
I'm not sure why anyone would.
While I sympathize with Steve's sentiment, Bolton isn't just some rogue loose cannon who can be ignored onto the sidelines. He's still a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and receives funding from the very deep ($30 million a year) pockets of that neocon mothership and its corporate support system.
Major donors include the heavy hitters of the conservative foundation world: the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Olin Foundation, the Scaife Foundation, and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, as well as smaller right-wing foundations such as Carthage, Earhart, and Castle Rock. From 1985 through 2005, AEI received more than $40 million from right-wing foundations.
AEI has a policy on corporate support: "National and multinational corporations who support AEI maintain close relationships with the institute's scholars and regularly receive top-level research and analysis on specific policy interests and priorities. In addition, corporations provide important input to AEI on a wide variety of issues."
According to People for the American Way, corporate donors to AEI have included the General Electric Foundation, Amoco, Kraft, Ford Motor Company Fund, General Motors Foundation, Eastman Kodak Foundation, Metropolitan Life Foundation, Procter & Gamble Fund, Shell Companies Foundation, Chrysler Corporation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, General Mills Foundation, Pillsbury Company Foundation, Prudential Foundation, American Express Foundation, AT&T Foundation, Corning Glass Works Foundation, Morgan Guarantee Trust, Alcoa Foundation, and PPG Industries.
To that list should be added the companies whose officials serve on the AEI's board of trustees: WalMart, International Paper, CIGNA, Dow Chemical, Rockwell, Amoco, Hewlett Packard, Exxon Mobil, Texas Instruments, Eli Lilly, and Citicorp, among others. Bolton is among fellow travellers there too, all willing to push the same basic narrative even if not all with the same vituperative zeal as he himself does. Fred Kagan, Bill Kristol, Lynne Cheney, David Frum, Newt Gingritch, Michael Ledeen, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Michael Rubin, James Woolsey, Robert Bork: its a panopticon of rightwing punditry and power brokers.
Those deep pockets and extensive connections are reason enough why John Bolton cannot be isolated and sidelined - and the neoconservative meovement is re-organizing for the Obama presidency with new pushes on missile defense, military funding (which they want to link to the recessive economy as stimulus funding) and much else - but they aren't the only reason. Bolton and his fellows have more than a sympathetic ear in Democratic circles too. They were pleased by Clinton's appointement, Gates retention and by the appointment of General Jones as NSA. Then there's Dennis Ross, who may well be Obama's special envoy to the Middle East and who has often made common cause with the AEI and other neocon groups. As one obesrever recently wrote: "If neoconservatives don’t have a seat at Obama’s table, they’re still seated at a booth within earshot."
[Neoconservatives] have access to much of the Democratic foreign policy establishment because the neocons have not been sufficiently discredited,” says Daniel Levy, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and the Century Foundation, two nonprofit, nonpartisan public-policy institutions.
"I think that in the Democratic foreign policy establishment, you’d find more aversion to being identified as, or collaborating with, the antiwar left than with neocons,” Levy says. “That’s an argument that’s going to have to go on inside Obama’s foreign policy world.… If they do not sufficiently expunge the neoconservative worldview, then it’s not going to be an easy journey.
“A lot of the arguments neoconservatives make are still deep in the DNA and discourse of how a lot of people look at these issues.”
No, Bolton isn't ignorable. He speaks for a broad and unrepentant coalition whose success in massaging the media and political discourse can be judged by the way in which leaders and pundits from both parties blithely speak still of Iran's push for nuclear weapons even though neither the last US intelligence NIE nor any finding of the AEIA atom watchdog has found any sign of such a program.
Crossposted from Newshoggers