Memo to Condi about the assignment of John Bolton

To: Secstate (S)

From: Office of Historical Memory (OHM)

Subject: Proposed assignment of John Bolton to the UN

We recognize that Mr. Bolton has been seriously underfoot recently and has succeeded in blocking many important initiatives, like agreement with the Russians to dispose of surplus nuclear weapons. We understand your predecessor advised you to get him out of Washington at all costs. But must you send him to New York?

A bit of history: in 1961 the President of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios, visited the USA as a guest of the President. His Ambassador to the United Nations, Xenon Rossides, was also accredited as Ambassador to the United States. Before the visit the Chief of Protocol, Angier Biddle Duke, explained to Rossides that since Foreign Minster Kyprianou was coming along, Rossides should agree to defer to his boss the Foreign Minister in matters of protocol. Rossides, who considered himself an elder statesman, refused, referring to his Foreign Minister as “that young punk.” The issue was never resolved, and throughout the visit Rossides (who rather resembled Groucho Marx without the glasses) and the younger Kyprianou engaged in an undignified and highly visible scramble, verging at times on a scuffle, when it came to any and all matters of protocol, including, for example, deciding who would ride with Makarios in the official limousine.

Another item: on May 17 the Washington Post reported that the Israeli Ambassador in Washington was engaged in an unseemly squabble with his Foreign Minister. This involved allegations on one side that the Ambassador’s wife was mistreating domestic servants, and, on the other, that the Foreign Minister had a grudge against the Ambassador because of a failure to arrange a photo-op with Madonna when she paid a visit to Israel. The report noted that the ambassador had a direct pipeline to Sharon, bypassing his Foreign Minister.

The implications are clear. Rossides thought his minister’s claim to authority couldn’t match his own. Ayalon, on a more practical level, actually had a direct pipeline to higher authority, so he felt he could disobey his nominal boss, the foreign minister, whenever he wanted to. Do either of these situations apply to Bolton?

We who guard the memory of the State Department cite these precedents to advise you that Bolton can and will get the bit in his teeth and disobey your instructions whenever the impulse seizes him. The possibilities stagger the imagination. We foresee that Bolton can cause you at least as as much grief in New York as he did for your predecessor when he was in Washington, and it will be even harder for you to cover it up. The press is hungry for comic relief, but at your expense? And the stakes are much larger than they were in the examples cited above…

We recommend that you consider alternatives.

Perhaps Ulan Bator?

Carl Coon 6/24/05

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