The Guardian 15 November, 2006

The biggest losers

Andrew Jackson

The thundering rebuke of the George W Bush’s war on Iraq handed out by US voters last week has left his administration shaken to its roots. While Bush himself and his Vice-President, Dick Cheney, remain in office until 2008, two of his most prominent war-hawks lay dead and dying on the ground.


Loser #1: Donald Rumsfeld

The first and most prominent loser in this year’s election was US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Despite President Bush declaring on November 1 he would remain Defense Secretary until January 2009, Rumsfeld — who is a hand-picked Bush appointee to the Cabinet and not an elected official — was forced to fall on his sword on November 9, within 12 hours of the election debacle.

It should come as no surprise that someone of Rumsfeld’s character rose to political prominence during the Nixon years, where he was described affectionately by the President as "a ruthless little bastard".

During the Reagan years he served as Special Envoy to the Middle East, where he oversaw US relations with Saddam Hussein, including the provision of military intelligence and hardware — including internationally outlawed chemical weapons — to Iraq. In his brief run for Republican Presidential candidate in 1988 he claimed this to be one of his greatest achievements.

Perhaps this will leave Rum­sfeld best remembered for a quote made prior to the invasion of Iraq: "We know they have weapons of mass destruction. We don’t need any debate about it."

Loser #2: John Bolton

Even in the earliest moments of the Bush Administration Bolton displayed the same capacity as Rumsfeld in unleashing the USA’s special brand of state-sponsored terrorism against the world.

Bolton was instrumental in derailing a 2001 bio-weapons conference in Geneva convened to endorse a UN proposal to enforce the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention. He then went on to orchestrate the removal of Jose Bustani as head of the international Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in order to replace him with a more "Bush-friendly" candidate. (Mr Bustani has been unanimously elected to head the Organisation in 2000 with strong support from the Clinton Administration.)

Assigned to the Six-Party talks with the DPRK on the nuclear issue his aggressive and vitriolic posturing prompted one DPRK diplomat to say: "Such human scum and bloodsucker is not entitled to take part in the talks". Bolton was removed.

One of Bolton’s most notorious moments was a statement he made in 1994 saying: "There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is only the international community, which can only be led by the only remaining superpower, which is the United States." He also stated that "The Secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If it lost ten stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference."

Unsurprising then that George W Bush appointment him as US Permanent Representative to the United Nations. However, Bolton’s appointment was never endorsed by the Senate by the 60/40 margin as required, and Bush used a technicality which allows him to make appointments during Congress recess periods which then stand until the next Congressional elections.

During his tenure in the UN Bolton has been instrumental in pushing Bush’s aggressive policies on the international stage, particularly against on Iran, Syria and the DPRK, and defending Israel’s atrocities in Gaza and Lebanon.

Unlike his abandonment of Rumsfeld, Bush continues to persist with Bolton’s nomination to this day. The Democrats remain as firm as ever against Bolton’s nomination and a handful of honourable Republicans have also restated their opposition, meaning Bolton faces the axe in January.

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