The Bolton Civil Wars in the State Department may have just re-started.
For those who followed the Bolton battle from early March through August, one of the real issues with John Bolton is that he was constantly attempting to undermine Colin Powell, Richard Armitage and others but did so with Dick Cheney's blessing.
There is evidence bubbling to the surface -- not altogether clear -- but pointing to the possibility that Bolton has already stepped out of his holding pen and is undermining Condi Rice and Bob Zoellick -- again with Dick Cheney's blessing.
A short while ago, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nick Burns met with NGO representatives regarding the upcoming U.N. Millennium Summit and U.S. objectives.
A reader of The Washington Note
and TPM pressed some key questions Burns' way -- particularly why any reference to Millennium Development Goals was completely cut out of the recently leaked Bolton-edited Millennium Summit draft document.
Remember, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are not firm targets and in the past, the U.S. has for the most part robustly supported these goals. The MDGs were agreed to by 190 nations in 2000 and reaffirmed in the Monterrey Consensus and referred to in the Gleneagles Declaration this summer.
When pressed -- several times -- on why these are apparently being knocked out by the United States in the Millennium Summit document, Nick Burns and subsequently Philo Dibble ducked the question and stated that they opposed the target of 0.7% of gross national income for official development assistance as an example of an old paradigm. They stated that that those kinds of numeric targets yielded poor results and stale discussion.
The bottom line though is that the 0.7% for development campaign is not an explicit part of the MDGs. When pressed further, they refused to say more.
In other areas of inquiry about the leaked Bolton document and U.S. intentions, Burns and Dibble were quick to defend the "perceived" U.S. position.
But when it came to the MDGs, it seems as if Burns and Dibble were coached to respond to any MDG issue by referring to the U.S. objection to the 0.7% target.
Reading between the lines -- Burns and Dibble refused to stand up for Bolton or say more in support of this stance. They refused to say anything.
One hypothesis is that Bolton went riding off alone again -- and doesn't want to support the Millennium Development Goals but has failed to consult with anyone.
Dropping the MDGs without consultations with the NGO community, other nations, or other stakeholders in the Bush administration (there is shock through parts of the administration about this) is huge news.
Burns and Dibble were apparently not prepared to support Bolton's line on this. Otherwise, they would have been defending him.
The insubordination may have just begun. Maybe they'll give him a pass this first time -- and try and teach him a lesson about coordination and communication. But my guess is that Bolton is drawing his energy and position from Karl Rove and Dick Cheney and only flirts part time with Bob Zoellick and Condi Rice.
We'll see. This picture I've painted could be wrong, but something is amiss between Turtle Bay and Foggy Bottom.