Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bellicose bumpkin Bolton hurls probable epithet

One of my favourite lines from any conservative commentator, anywhere, anytime, was the following from expatriate Canadian Mark Steyn:

Canadians, who are the biggest bunch of socialist sissified patsies on the continent, they don’t like Kyoto [i.e., the Kyoto Protocol].

Steyn, a sometime beneficiary of Canadian ‘socialist’ infrastructure, seems fond of spitting at his sometime countrymen. That’s his right, certainly, as it is his prerogative to couch his critique in the idiom of the schoolyard.

But it’s sad when a mouthpiece for the more aggressive strands of US foreign policy employs a similar approach on the world stage. The US’s former Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, is perhaps the most strident exponent of a brand of with-us-or-against-us diplomacy that has won him enmity from both sides of politics in his homeland.

On last night’s edition of ABC-TV’s Lateline, Tony Jones tried to wrap up his interview with Bolton by asking him a specific question:

TONY JONES: Now our final question, John Bolton, you’d be aware there’s an Australian election coming up, a new Australian government will be in place most likely by the end of this year. If a Labor government were to win, they’ve promised a unilateral withdrawal of Australian troops from southern Iraq. What do you think the consequences of that would be for security in Iraq?

JOHN BOLTON: Well, I suppose if Australia wants to behave like New Zealand, that’s up to you all.

I believe the subtext of Bolton’s reply may have been something like:

Well, if y’all want to behave like the biggest bunch of socialist sissified patsies on the Pacific Rim, y’all can go to blazes, consarn it!

For the benefit of Bolton, who presumably had misheard the question, Jones repeated:

TONY JONES: What do you think the consequences would be, though, for Iraqi security?

JOHN BOLTON: I think the United States would have to fill the gap, which would be unfortunate. I hope Australia keeps its troops there as part of the coalition. But that’s certainly your decision.


It’s certainly your decision, but if y’all do withdraw your troops, I’d reckon y’all’d have to be the biggest bunch of socialist sissified patsies etc. etc. etc.

I guess an Australian journalist can only take so much arrant nonsense from an overbearing foreign policy hack like foreigner Bolton. It was at this point that something must have snapped, and Jones tacked into polemic:

TONY JONES: Well, I mean, it was a British decision too. I mean, I don’t suppose you’re suggesting that they’re behaving in the New Zealand fashion?

Well, I mean, it’s nice that Jones leapt to the defence of Australian sovereignty — albeit, by borrowing some from the Brits.

And, sure, it may have been expecting too much for Jones to remind Bolton that New Zealand had the good sense not to follow Bolton’s political masters into the most disastrous foreign policy failure in decades.

But was it really necessary to fall into the tiresome idiom of that bellicose bumpkin?

Lost in all this, of course, was Jones’ original question, regarding the consequences for security in Iraq of drawing down Australian troops. Bolton’s grudging half-answer in turn only begged a further question of how the clueless hack thinks his country’s stretched military would “fill the gap” left by departing British and, perhaps, Australian troops.


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