UN comments trigger row with US
The US ambassador to the United Nations has hit back at comments by the UN deputy chief about US policy on the UN.
JUNE 8th 2006

So, what's all this really about?

The UN's deputy Secretary General, Mark Malloch Brown, has said in a speech what a pity it is that (I paraphrase) the average American's idea of the United Nations is what gets spewed out by the right-wing nutters of Americam local broadcasting, and that it would be nice of the US Government, whose participation and support for the UN is absolutely critical, would do more to explain to the American public what the UN does and why and why it must be supported (and by all means reformed and updated).

John Bolton (who is a conventional old fashioned brain whose understanding of the world, admirable and widely experienced though it is in many ways is, how shall I put it, limited in ways he is not aware of), has taken great offence. He no doubt sees himself, and President GWB, as ever so subtley targeted as representing that great band of Americans we think of as just a bit short of a workable set of neurones. They get confused over their own religion, let alone other people's, and don't understand why things go wrong with their foreign policy.

Now there was absolutely nothing in Malloch Brown's speech that could possibly give that understanding. But it is probable that John Bolton, who has spent most of his life shrouded in an invincible cloak of high self-esteem, has recently detected that there is a lack of respect for his intellect, which he feels implies a lack of respect for his very correct, honest, old-world view of things. He is, as you may have detected, a man who takes himself and his country very seriously. I do too. They are not a joke. But he and his President have forced a lot of people to regard them as one as the only way maintain their sanity.

John Bolton rather likes to threaten people. He believes that the US is not just the hope of the world but the only hope and the only country capable of controlling the word's economy and technological development. Since they have imported the world's best brains over the last century, having a whole new continent to play with, this has been to some extent true. But he has taken offence, and he wants an apology. This is difficult, as it is not clear who to apologise too and what for. Personally I thought Malloch Brown was about as polite as it is possible to be in the circumstances.

Today, Bolton is saying Malloch Brown's speech was 'a very, very serious mistake'!  Bush and Bolton have made nothing but mistakes, particularly in what they have said, even more than what they have done. When challenged on this, Bolton does not deny it. He admits the mistakes. Compared to them, Malloch Brown's is (a) trivial and (b) exists in the brain of the man who has taken offence rather than anywhere else.

I have been quite dismissive from time to time of Noam Chomsky. But I would like John Bolton to understand the world as seen by Noam as well as from his own point of view. Best would be to put them on an island together and let the rest of us get by without either.