Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Winning friends and unfluencing people, the Neo-con Way:

CERNOBBIO, Italy -- Just you wait, said Undersecretary of State John Bolton, referring to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. If you only knew what he knew, he said. In six to nine months, you will regret questioning the Bush administration's sincerity. Then, having vindicated every European's caricature of the arrogant American, he left this resort on Lake Como carrying a suitcase in one hand, a briefcase in the other -- and a chip on his shoulder so big I feared he would exceed the weight limit for his flight home.

Bolton's performance at the annual meeting of the Council for the United States and Italy was just plain mystifying -- although some Europeans here thought it was merely par for the course. They have come to expect a certain take-it-or-leave-it attitude on the part of U.S. officials -- one Rumsfeld after another. It was the defense secretary, after all, who recently said that if Belgium didn't change a certain silly law, NATO just might pull out of Brussels. For some reason, the Belgians took umbrage and reflexively embraced a law they know needs changing.