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Bolton Uses Libya As an Example to Sabotage Diplomacy

The Wall Street Journal editors try [1] to cover for the president’s confusion on North Korea and Libya:

Except the two men are talking about two different events. Mr. Trump is referring to the overthrow of Gadhafi in 2011 amid the Arab Spring uprising inside Libya, long after he had given up his nuclear weapons* [sic]. Mr. Bolton was referring to the 2003 events and saying the U.S. wants comparable assurances from North Korea that its denuclearization is “complete, verifiable, and irreversible.” In that sense, Libya is the model for North Korea.

We trust somebody in the White House will explain this history to Mr. Trump [bold mine-DL]. North Korea is going to be the toughest negotiation of Mr. Trump’s life, and he needs Mr. Bolton’s counsel to avoid falling for the same false promises that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush did.

If Trump doesn’t understand what his own National Security Advisor is talking about, it causes one to wonder what exactly Bolton has been doing for the last month. The trouble here isn’t just that Bolton is trying to set unrealistic expectations in order to sabotage diplomacy with North Korea, but also that Trump is so clueless and ill-prepared that he can’t even make sense of Bolton’s rhetoric. That underscores the danger of Trump’s aversion to preparing for the summit. No matter how much or how often “somebody in the White House” tries to school the president on basic facts of recent history, he doesn’t know what to do with the information and probably doesn’t take it in to start with. Trump took Bolton’s bad idea–the so-called “Libyan model”–and managed to make it worse through sheer ignorance. The president isn’t capable of handling complicated, fraught, and detailed negotiations with another leader, and no amount of counseling will change that.

The larger problem with North Korea is that all American references to Libya provoke the same response: distrust. Gaddafi made a deal in 2003 that the U.S. and its allies subsequently tossed aside when it was no longer expedient. That is exactly why North Korea isn’t going to make the mistake of disarmament that other authoritarian regimes made. The 2011 U.S.-led Libyan intervention is the conclusion to the story, but as far as North Korea’s government is concerned it is all part of the same betrayal. It isn’t possible to push for Libyan-style disarmament circa 2003 without making the North Koreans think of Gaddafi’s bloody end. Bolton has understood that all along, and he brings the Libyan example up because he hopes to derail diplomacy with North Korea. Thanks to Trump’s unpreparedness and bungling, he may very well succeed.

*Gaddafi never had nuclear weapons. His government had only a nascent nuclear program that was nowhere near as advanced as North Korea’s. The WSJ editors just can’t help misleading their readers.

4 Comments (Open | Close)

4 Comments To "Bolton Uses Libya As an Example to Sabotage Diplomacy"

#1 Comment By Harleys Plural On May 18, 2018 @ 12:13 am

WSJ says — “North Korea is going to be the toughest negotiation of Mr. Trump’s life, and he needs Mr. Bolton’s counsel to avoid falling for the same false promises that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush did.”

But he’s had that counsel. That’s sort of the point. Bolton already told Trump what to think, do, and say, and this is the result.

The WSJ just doesn’t want to admit that Bolton is the same ignorant, incompetent jackass he’s always been. He’s in over his head and already screwing up, as witness the cybersecurity mess caused by his inability to cope with advanced technological material.

#2 Comment By sglover On May 18, 2018 @ 12:30 am

I don’t understand why we’re speaking of Trump’s “confusion on North Korea and Libya”. I’d expect Trump to muddle places and chronologies. He managed to get more or less complete sentences out, and he didn’t veer off into any bizarro stream of consciousness fabrications. By Trump standards, he was positively statesmanlike.

But to my eye Trump definitely did not seem “confused” over the real message: On my whim we can obliterate states. No, he seemed to be very clear on that. And I never heard Trump couple “decimation” with, “…and perhaps that was a blunder/wrong/mistaken, and maybe we don’t want to repeat that”.

If “confusion” implies hesitancy or uncertainty or doubt, I sure didn’t see it in Trump’s performance. Under the circumstances, I wish he showed a little “confusion”. He sure should.

#3 Comment By Whine Merchant On May 18, 2018 @ 12:53 am

“The WSJ editors just can’t help misleading their readers.”

You would think that the WSJ is owned by the same person who owns Faux News…oh, wait. It is…

#4 Comment By Kurt Gayle On May 19, 2018 @ 4:40 pm

Eric Margolis also sees Bolton as the saboteur of a deal with North Korea:

“North Korea was right on target when it accused arch-neocon John Bolton of trying to sabotage the peace deal. In 2005-2006, Bolton served as the Bush administration’s ambassador to the UN…In the 2005-2006 period, after years of negotiations, the US and North Korea were close to a nuclear/peace deal. Enter John Bolton. He succeeded in sabotaging the US-North Korea deal. Why? Because Bolton, as an arch neocon, was fanatically pro-Israel and feared that North Korea might provide nuclear technology to Israel’s foes. As usual with the neocons, Israel’s interests came before those of the United States. Trump’s newly named Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, is also an ardent neocon. Last week, Bolton went onto US TV and actually suggested North Korea might follow the course set by Libya, of all places. Libya’s then ruler, Muammar Kadaffi, bought some nuclear equipment from Pakistan so he could hand it over to the US as a gesture of cooperation after the Bush administration invaded Iraq. The handover was done with much fanfare, then the US, France and Britain attacked Libya and overthrew Kadaffi. The hapless Libyan leader was eventually murdered by French agents. Is this what Bolton has in mind for North Korea? The Northerners certainly seemed to think so. Some wondered if Bolton and perhaps Pompeo were trying to sabotage the North Korea deal. Or were at least being incredibly obtuse and belligerent. Was Trump involved in this intrigue? Hard to tell. But he can’t be happy. His minions and bootlickers are promoting Trump for the Nobel Prize – rather ahead of events.”