But another indication of just how seriously the Administration regards the diplomacy of convincing others to follow the U.S. lead is the identity of its UN ambassador — John Bolton. Bolton, whose answer when asked a couple of years ago what lesson Iran and North Korea should take from the U.S. invasion of Iraq, answered “Take a number.” But there are too many instances of Bolton’s demagogic bluster to document. Let’s just say the world looks at Bolton and sees an infantile provocateur who has about as much to offer international diplomacy as does Bill O’Reilly.
But it’s not Bolton’s John Wayne shtick that makes the Security Council push back against the U.S. in order to ensure that the sanctions that are adopted will be largely symbolic, and will facilitate rather than hinder a resumption of negotiations with Pyongyang. It’s simply that the U.S. is unable to lead because it offers no plausible endgame. Resuming talks aimed at a denuclearization deal is the only sane endgame, so the others on the Security Council will ensure that its condemnation and punishment of North Korea works towards that goal.
North Korea is simply the latest failure highlighting a foreign policy hobbled by ideological flights of fancy and a remarkable inability to recognize the limits of U.S. power to remake distasteful realities. When the paintball revolutionary who penned Buhs’s “Axis of Evil” speech popped up this week with a prescription for the Korea crisis that included forcing South Korea to starve North Korea, encouraging Japan to build nuclear weapons, and inviting Taiwan to NATO meetings in order to “punish” China, what became abundantly clear was that the Administration has suffered all along from an absence of adult supervision.