Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Diplomacy according to John Bolton

As the leaders of North and South Korea made a historic move towards peace on the peninsula, John Bolton, the US National Security Advisor, told Fox News that the US has in mind the Libya model. There are only two possible inferences one can draw from this intervention. Either Bolton is determined to sabotage the Korean peace initiative or he is completely delusional.

Libya had a nuclear weapons programme. Its leader, Colonel Gaddafi agreed to give up the programme in return for the end of sanctions and the west's acceptance of Libya. Within a few years, defenceless Libya was destroyed on fabricated allegations that Gaddafi was about to massacre his own people. Regardless of Bolton's intentions, the only message the leadership of North Korea could have received from Bolton's assertion was that the US intends to destroy North Korea once it is defenceless.

Kim Jong un can only interpret Bolton's words as proof that they were right to have developed a nuclear weapons and ballistic missile capability and they would be foolish to give up that capacity. Is this the message Bolton intended to send? I do not know, but he has a history of being incredibly pro-war. Before his appointment as National Security Advisor, he wrote a op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in which he set out what he considered to be the legal case for waging war on North Korea pre-emptively.

If Bolton did not know that North Korea could only interpret his words as proof that they must keep their nuclear weapons, he must be far too ignorant to hold the post of National Security Advisor. North Korea has previously publicly stated that its rationale for having such capacity is based on what happened to Libya after it gave up its nuclear weapons programme.

So on Friday, Kim Jong un announces his intention to give up North Korea's nuclear weapons capability and on Sunday John Bolton takes to US television to assert that the US has in mind the Libya model for North Korea: get them to give up their weapons of mass destruction in return for ending sanctions and security guarantees and then bomb them into the middle ages.

Whatever Bolton's intentions, it looks like he may well have sabotaged the most promising development for peace on the peninsula since the 1953 armistice.

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