Thursday, August 06, 2009

ETP Joins the Wrong About Everything Club

John Bolton is pure evil according to blogger

If one were to accept the claims of Enormous Thriving Plants' Audrey at face value, one would believe that Audrey has always been implicitly logical and reasonable with her political arguments.

One would be led to believe that her critics are merely bending at windmills over matters that are factually apparent.

Unfortunately for Audrey, this is pure fiction. The truth is rather different.

In fact, it seems that the arguments that Audrey often raises fall far short of the "implicitly logical and reasonable" benchmark, and instead veer way off into the margins of a vast ideological intellectual morass, from which for ideologues as dedicated as Audrey, there may truly be no way out.

One needs look no further than Audrey's recent rantings about former American Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who recently had something to say about Bill Clinton's recent trip to North Korea to negotiate the release of two imprisoned American journalists.

Before one gets into what Bolton actually had to say about it, let's examine what Audrey had to say:
"A mere hours after his Washington Post column calling Bill Clinton's trip to North Korea "kneejerk" / "an act of obeisance" was published, North Korea pardons the American journalists it had imprisoned.

If the former (Bush appointed) UN ambassador had had his way, Laura Ling and Euna Lee would still be sitting in a North Korean labour camp, simply to satiate his PNAC fantasy of American-strength-through-non-diplomacy.

...Another Neocon joins the Kristol/Perle "Wrong about everything" club.
While it is true that Bolton's comments on Clinton's efforts to secure the release of the captured journalists are less than flattering for the former President, Audrey draws a rather peculiar conclusion -- that because Bolton criticizes Clinton's actions that he wanted to see Ling and Lee remain in prison.

Yet Bolton's own comments contradict that statement.

"The reporters' arrest, show trial and subsequent imprisonment (twelve years hard labor) was hostage taking, essentially an act of state terrorism," Bolton wrote. To any rational individual, that hardly seems like the words of someone who favours the injudicious arrest, incarceration and enslavement of American citizens.

But Audrey's comments that Bolton would rather see Ling and Lee remain in captivity "simply to satiate his PNAC fantasy of American-strength-through-non-diplomacy" is actually a very revelatory remark.

It demonstrates that Audrey clearly doesn't understand the recent history of diplomatic efforts with North Korea, and the tendency of the Kim Jong Il regime to throw these diplomatic efforts back into the face of the western world. Oddly enough, Bolton refers to such an episode in his column:
"In some ways the trip is a flashback to the unfortunate 1994 journey of former president Jimmy Carter, who disrupted the Clinton administration's nuclear negotiations with North Korea and led directly to the misbegotten 'Agreed Framework.' By supplying both political legitimacy and tangible economic resources to Pyongyang, the Agreed Framework provided the North and other rogue states a roadmap for maximizing the benefits of illicit nuclear programs. North Korea violated the framework almost from the outset but nonetheless enticed the Bush administration into negotiations (the six-party talks) to discuss yet again ending its nuclear program in exchange for even more political and economic benefits. This history is of the United States rewarding dangerous and unacceptable behavior, a lesson well learned by other would-be nuclear proliferators."
As anyone who has paid attention to the issue of North Korean nuclear proliferation would know, Kim Jong Il's regime had gone back on this deal -- which Hans Blix was dissatisfied with in the first place -- by resuming missile tests under the guise of launching satellites.

Bill Clinton isn't the only US President to try and fail to reach a diplomatic resolution with North Korea. George W Bush tried (and failed) to reach such a resolution, offering aid packages to North Korea as part of a multi-lateral deal. A more substantive deal was eventually reached in which North Korea would shut down its nuclear program in exchange for the unfreezing of accounts in American banks.

By 2008, North Korea had again reneged on the deal, declining to report its nuclear activities. By May of 2009 North Korea had restarted its nuclear reactor and threatened to attack South Korea.

The history of North Korea's renunciation of diplomatic efforts -- often demanding broad concessions before talks could even begin -- now spans three American Presidents. To pretend that North Korea is engaging in diplomatic negotiations over its nuclear program in good faith would, at this point, be a sham.

There is also, as Bolton muses, the risk of emboldening criminal regimes like Kim Jong Il's by legitimizing their effectively taking foreign citizens hostage:
"While the United States is properly concerned whenever its citizens are abused or held hostage, efforts to protect them should not create potentially greater risks for other Americans in the future. Yet that is exactly the consequence of visits by former presidents or other dignitaries as a form of political ransom to obtain their release. Iran and other autocracies are presumably closely watching the scenario in North Korea. With three American hikers freshly in Tehran's captivity, will Clinton be packing his bags again for another act of obeisance? And, looking ahead, what American hostages will not be sufficiently important to merit the presidential treatment? What about Roxana Saberi and other Americans previously held in Tehran? What was it about them that made them unworthy of a presidential visit? These are the consequences of poorly thought-out gesture politics, however well-intentioned or compassionately motivated. Indeed, the release of the two reporters -- welcome news -- doesn't mitigate the future risks entailed."
These risks are especially pronounced when one considers how these deals will be accepted by a regime that so routinely violates its diplomatic agreements.

Against the backdrop of North Korea's malfeasance in regards to diplomacy, it takes a special kind of ideologue to use the fact that an individual was appointed as Ambassador to the UN by George W Bush -- who himself tried and failed to reach a diplomatic accommodation with Kim Jong Il -- as evidence that they would rather see American journalists enslaved in a North Korean prison.

Particularly when that very same ideologue seems to go to such lengths to overlook entirely the manner in which the North Korean regime has approached diplomacy in the first place.

Of course, when it comes to Audrey, one should never, ever be surprised.


  1. I didn't argue that John Bolton is pure evil.
    I didn't conclude that Bolton "wanted to see Ling and Lee remain in prison". Those are you words and your conclusions, not mine. What addressed was the consequence of his position, not his motives or desires.

    Normative. Descriptive. Philosophy 110.

    It's nice to see that some things never change.

    Clinton succeeded in this case in reaching a diplomatic solution with North Korea, and left those like Bolton who have an a priori commitment to opposing such things with their feet in their mouths.

    Once again, you've not only picked the wrong horse, you've illustrated a proclivity for slaying strawmen. I doubt anyone's surprised.

  2. Audrey, why are you lying?

    Your words are quoted here in this very post. For the sake of enforcing honesty, I'll quote them again:

    "If the former (Bush appointed) UN ambassador had had his way, Laura Ling and Euna Lee would still be sitting in a North Korean labour camp, simply to satiate his PNAC fantasy of American-strength-through-non-diplomacy."

    Those are you words, Audrey. No one else's.

    I know you so often refuse to take responsibility for your words and your arguments, but you need to understand that I will continue to quote these words, for everyone to see, until you stop lying.

    It also amuses me that you continue to decline to recognize the demonstrable malfeasance of the North Korean regime in regards to matters diplomatic.

    I guess it's easier for you to waddle in here and fling false accusations of "strawman argument" than to actually defend your words or your arguments.

    So utterly typical of you.

  3. I'm quite willing and prepared to defend my arguments and my positions. I'm also quite happy to point out the differences between them your ongoing proclivity for attacking distortions and misrepresentations.

    I didn't speak to what Bolton "wanted". Unlike some bloggers who put their words in others' mouths, I'm more than willing to acknowledge that I can't speak to Bolton's inner thoughts.

    That's why my post dealt entirely with the consequences of his position.

    That's why your original (and subsequently defended) mischaracterization of it is not only inaccurate, it's also not the least bit surprising.

  4. Jesus Christ, that is the weakest defense I have heard out of anyone. Even from you.

    Let's take a look at your words again. At this point this isn't for your benefit, but rather for the benefit of our readers.

    "If the former (Bush appointed) UN ambassador had had his way, Laura Ling and Euna Lee would still be sitting in a North Korean labour camp, simply to satiate his PNAC fantasy of American-strength-through-non-diplomacy."

    Now, the ironic thing is this. Previously you insisted that not only is your claim that John Bolton wanted these journalists to remain in custody -- as this is what would have happened, according to you, if he had gotten his way -- entirely reasonable, but actually no less reasonable than to suggest that Bolton would have preferred they never be arrested in the first place.

    At that point, you thought your suggestion that Bolton wanted them to remain in custody as justification for a rejection of diplomacy was every bit as reasonable as one that actually granted to Bolton some semblence of human compassion.

    I guess all that's really changed is that you've recognized now damaging your comments are. Too bad you can't be honest about them.

  5. Again, you show yourself either unable or unwilling to distinguish between the normative and descriptive.

    If you ever finish dueling with the arguments you've invented, let me know. In the mean time, I'm comfortable with the weakness of your position that your continual strawman-slaying illustrates.

  6. ROTFL

    Your words, Audrey. Let's take another look at them:

    "If the former (Bush appointed) UN ambassador had had his way, Laura Ling and Euna Lee would still be sitting in a North Korean labour camp, simply to satiate his PNAC fantasy of American-strength-through-non-diplomacy."

    Who wrote those words, Audrey? Did I write those words? Or did you write them? Who wrote them, Audrey?

    So utterly typical of you: forever refusing to accept responsibility for your own arguments. So sad.

  7. I wrote those words, and take full responsibility for them. What I didn't write was that Bolton "wanted to see Ling and Lee remain in prison". Those are your words, and they differ significantly from mine.

    It's not only typical for you to inaccurately summarize others' arguments, but also to call them "dishonest" when they draw attention to the inaccuracy. Maybe you think that others will find rhetoric like that compelling, but I'm comfortable betting that you're wrong, and am quite happy to continue to point it out when you employ it.

  8. Audrey, let's take another look at what you wrote:

    ""If the former (Bush appointed) UN ambassador had had his way, Laura Ling and Euna Lee would still be sitting in a North Korean labour camp, simply to satiate his PNAC fantasy of American-strength-through-non-diplomacy."

    How many times do we have to do this before you start being honest about this?

    You've insisted that John Bolton would prefer to see Ling and Lee remain in North Korean custody in order to satisfy his political beliefs.

    Aside from the fact that your argument demands that people read the lowliest motivations possible into Bolton's criticisms -- which are actually entirely valid considering the North Korean regime's malfeasant conduct in matters regarding diplomacy -- there are much deeper problems with your argument.

    Considering that you are no kind of reasonable authority on the inner workings of anyone's mind -- unless you're pretending to be a psychic now -- you cannot reasonably make this claim and expect it to be accepted.

    One could just as easily say that if Bolton had had his way Ling and Lee never would have been in North Korean captivity in the first place. This particular argument at the very least enjoys the virtue that it treats Bolton as it would any other person -- it doesn't demand that Bolton be treated as if he were pure evil, as your argument does.

  9. Since you seem to want to appeal to repetition, let's take another look at the difference between what I wrote and the words you're attempting to put in my mouth.

    I wrote "If [Bolton] had had his way...".

    You wrote "[Bolton] wanted...".

    As I've pointed out repeatedly (and which you have yet to even remotely address), the former speaks to consequence, the latter speaks to intent. The two don't become the same simply by repeatedly substituting one for the other. As I pointed out elsewhere, I have no idea if you actually don't understand the difference between intent behind an action and consequence of an action or are deliberately and obtusely pretending that you don't, but either way I doubt many following this exchange are that dumb.

    That's also what makes your cries of "pretending to be a psychic now" all the more hilarious, as it assumes the same idiotic conflation. I never purported to be able to read Bolton's mind or know what he wanted with respect to the journalists. I only know what would have existed had Clinton (as Bolton desired) not brokered their release. I spoke to the latter in my post, and you've spent reply after reply and another entire thread attacking something that no one said or argued.

    "Dishonest", indeed!

  10. Audrey, Audrey, Audrey.

    That's a weak argument.

    Even if one were willing to accept this attempt for you to weasle out of your argument, one would still have to point out to you that your argument reads Bolton's intentions into the consequences of him "having his way". In this case:

    "...simply to satiate his PNAC fantasy of American-strength-through-non-diplomacy."

    I don't blame you for wanting to weasle your way out of this argument. In a certain way, there's almost a certain amount of nobility to it. After all, the ability to weasle out of things is what separates us from the animals.

    ...Except the weasle.

    Now, that being addressed, I'd certainly be eager to see you get down to addressing the substance of Bolton's objections honestly. For example, you want to criticize Bolton for his "PNAC fantasy of American-strength-through-non-diplomacy," yet you don't seem very eager to explain why it isn't perfectly reasonable to object to the waste of diplomatic time and resources on a state that has proven itself to be utterly malfeasant in regard to diplomatic matters.

  11. I'm not trying to weasel out of my argument. I'm pointing out the difference between it and the strawman you've spent umpteen replies in multiple threads now slaying.

    Now that it's dawning on you that this whole "Bolton wanted to see Ling and Lee remain in prison business" is ending up as egg on your face, you're moving the goalposts to whether or not Bolton wanted his approach to foreign policy followed.

    I don't think that it requires psychic ability to glean from Bolton's article that he finds his approach to foreign relations more desirable than what was evidenced by the actions he criticized. Bolton has gone on record many times other than this also advancing his preferred foreign policy where talking to others (even enemies) is to be treated as some sort of favour or reward. One of the problematic consequences of Bolton's international version of the primary-schoolground "silent treatment" is that it removes all opportunity for things like... (wait for it) Clinton's diplomatic effort that secured the release of the journalists.

  12. No, Audrey, you're trying to invent a difference. And you've failed.

    Just like you're trying to invent egg on someone else's face in order to distract from the egg on your own. And you've failed.

    You insist that you were speaking about the consequences of Bolton "having his way", not his intentions.

    But you wrote Bolton's intentions directly into the argument. No matter how you think you can try to squirm your way out of this, it simply doesn't wash. You should give your readers -- and mine -- more credit than that.

    Beyond this, if you weren't going to such pains to ignore the actual point that Bolton raised in his article, you'd be much less eager to try to portray Clinton's seeming success as a diplomatic triumph.

    After all, just as the numerous diplomatic deals North Korea struck over its nuclear program, the release of Ling and Lee does not preclude further hostage taking -- not by North Korea, and not by any other state.

    If anything, this will likely embolden North Korea to use these tactics again in the future.

    Not to mention that we still don't know what kind of consessions Clinton had to give up in order to secure their release. I wouldn't crow about this if I were you.

    Then again, I thnk it's safe to say that you have some other motivations for crowing about this, don't you, Audrey?

  13. As much as I'd love to take credit for "inventing" the difference between normative and descriptive, alas, philosophers and ordinary people have been aware of it for thousands of years, Pat.

    As nice as it is to see that you've switched from talking about "Bolton wanting Ling and Lee in prison" to now talking about Bolton having a particular set of foreign policy preferences, I'm not sure I see what you find objectionable or controverial. Bolton makes it quite clear that he would prefer a PNAC inspired foreign policy of that which was reflected by Clinton's actions, both in the article and elsewhere. What exactly to you find "psychic" about noting this?

    The problem that I originally noted are the consequences associated with that preference, namely taking off the table the very action that secured these journalists' release. You may not see their release as something to crow about, but I'm not the least bit ashamed of thinking that it is. Ought Ling and Lee still be sitting in jail simply to satiate yours and Bolton's desire for a more PNAC-acceptable foreign policy approach to be implemented?

    "I thnk it's safe to say that you have some other motivations for crowing about this, don't you, Audrey?"

    I think it's great that Clinton was able to secure their release and I also think a good is served through another illustration of the folly of Bolton et al's narrowminded America-Uber-Alles foreign policy positions, and I think I've been upfront about both. If you think there's more to it than that, your psychic abilities are not serving you well.

  14. Oh, Audrey. Ever with the sophistic arguments.

    You're inventing a difference between normative and descriptive in your own argument. You know it.

    It's no surprise that you continue to deny that you read the intent for Bolton's objection into your alleged description of the consequences. Nobody expects that kind of honesty from you. In fact, people have come to expect the opposite.

    But it continues to amuse me that you seem to want to try to skate around North Korea's history of utter malfeasance in matters related to diplomacy. Apparently, you believe that it doesn't matter how many times a country breaks their diplomatically-established commitments, one should continue to deal with them diplomatically, even when they're effectively taking your citizens hostage.

    The facts of the matter actually speak for themselves, yet you seem utterly bound and determined to ignore them. Considering that you want to excoriate Bolton for allegedly allowing his ideology -- not the facts, which actually solidly line up in support of his argument -- to dictate his stance.

    Yet here we find you, allowing your ideology -- not the facts, which solidly line up against your argument (actually, to date your own arguments have lined up against your arguments!) -- to dictate your stance.

    An honest person would admit the irony. But considering that we've long ago learned the depth of your dishonesty, no one expects you to.


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