Yesterday John Bolton (along with three other distinguished honorees) received this year’s Bradley Prize Award. In his characteristically thoughtful acceptance speech Ambassador Bolton described the attitude with which he approached his work as an appointed official in two Republican administrations:
In my first significant government job, General Counsel of the Agency for International Development in 1981, I decided I should make decisions by asking myself, “what would Ronald Reagan decide if he were sitting in my chair?” I see nothing extraordinary or meritorious about following this course of action, which is a simple extrapolation from the democratic legitimacy constitutionally conferred on a President. The Supreme Court said as much in Myers v. United States: “Each head of a department is and must be the President’s alter ego in the matters of that department. . . .” In a specific example, in Ponzi v. Fessenden, the Court said: “The Attorney General is…the hand of the President in taking care that the laws of the United States be faithfully executed.” Below the Cabinet level, other Presidential appointees carry his democratic legitimacy deeper into the bureaucracy, and should have as their primary objective the implementation of the President’s policies.
Yet, we all know, especially in Republican Administrations, that too often this does not happen. Political appointees “go native.” They may be conservatives before they join the Federal government, and they may be conservatives after they leave, but while they are in service, they are simply filling chairs in large bureaucracies. They adopt the attitude of the bureaucracy where they work; they fight its turf fights against Presidential appointees in other bureaucracies, and even within their own Departments, rather than allying together in common philosophical struggles; and they leave their government service without having made the slightest imprint.
The speech is worth reading in its entirety, but Ambassador Bolton’s point about government officials going native appears especially timely. How else explain the news of Condoleezza Rice meeting this week with the Syrian foreign minister in Egypt? The first half of Caroline Glick’s Jerusalem Post column today addresses the evolution of American foreign policy in the Middle East:
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice strikes an eerie resemblance to her predecessor Madeleine Albright these days. Rice’s visit to Egypt, where she jumped at the chance to meet with her Syrian counterpart and spoke dreamily of her desire to meet with an Iranian official with direct ties to Iran’s dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called to mind Albright’s boogie-woogie with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il in the waning days of the Clinton administration.
In Sharm e-Sheikh, Rice is clearly looking for a way to forge a US surrender of Iraq to its nemeses Iran and Syria. So it is that American commanders in Iraq are barred from noting publicly that the Iranian and Syrian governments are directing the war and killing their soldiers.
Rice’s embrace of surrender extends to her position on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Rice and her State Department colleagues oppose both striking Iran’s nuclear installations and providing assistance to regime opponents inside Iran who seek to overthrow the regime in order to prevent the mullahs from acquiring nuclear weapons. All they want to do is negotiate with the ayatollahs. They have no other policy.
So too, in recent months the US has embraced the Palestinians. Although the speaker of the Palestinian legislature Ahmad Bahar just made a televised appeal to Allah to kill every Jew and American on earth, Rice insists on transferring $59 million in US taxpayer money to the Palestinian security forces. So too, last week the State Department dictated a list of security concessions that Israel must make to the Palestinians over the next eight months regardless of whether the Palestinians themselves cease their attacks on Israel, or for that matter, regardless of whether the Palestinians maintain their commitment to annihilating the Israel and the US.
Rice’s shepherding of the US to strategic defeat against the jihadists in the Middle East extends to Africa as well. In Somalia, the US now supports the unity government in spite of the fact that the Al-Qaida-backed Islamic Courts Union is a member of the government.
Two weeks ago I wrote about Secretary Rice and Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch in “Condi speaks.” I wrote State Department spokesman Sean McCormack requesing an interview with either of them at the time and have heard nothing in response. I would like to know if things are really as bad as Glick says, or if they just look that way.
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