Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund falsely claimed that no one in the State Department disapproved of the non-proliferation policies of Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John R. Bolton, President Bush's nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Appearing on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, Fund stated that: "[O]n the proliferation issues in the State Department, he [Bolton] was a stellar performer and everybody in the State Department agrees with that."
In fact, several prominent State Department officials have opposed Bolton's handling of non-proliferation issues, such as the North Korean nuclear threat. Jack Pritchard, former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, criticized Bolton for inflammatory rhetoric and said he undermined U.S. efforts to develop "an effective policy toward North Korea." The Associated Press reported on January 7:
Jack Pritchard, who dealt with North Korea before leaving the State Department in 2003, said Bolton "played a disruptive role" in the implementation of President Bush's policy toward North Korea.
"He has undermined Secretary of State Powell's leadership and relationship with the president in the development of an effective policy toward North Korea," Pritchard said in an interview.
Also, Pritchard said, Bolton's public attacks on North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, while largely accurate, conveyed a tone contrary to the desires and direction of U.S. policy.
The New York Times reported on September 2, 2003, after Bolton gave an inflammatory speech about North Korea in Seoul, South Korea, "Even officials who agreed with Mr. Bolton's position winced at his delivery. Richard L. Armitage, who as deputy secretary of state is Mr. Bolton's superior, distanced himself from the speech."
Other anonymous State Department officials have been more vocal in their opposition to Bolton's handling of North Korea, as USA Today documented on December 1, 2003:
In private, Bolton's colleagues can be scathing. One high-level co-worker calls Bolton an anti-diplomat who tries to intimidate those who disagree with his views.
Another diplomat says no one in the department dares criticize Bolton on the record because he has support at the highest levels of the administration. Despite his often-blunt public pronouncements, he is never publicly chastised or contradicted, the diplomat says.
Much of the criticism of Bolton involves his opposition to a nuclear weapons deal with North Korea. In his speech in July, delivered in the South Korean capital, Seoul, Bolton blasted North Korean leader Kim Jong Il for his "brazenness" and his disregard for the well-being of his people. "While he lives like royalty in Pyongyang . . . for many in North Korea, life is a hellish nightmare," Bolton said. "It's not natural disasters that are to blame for the deprivation of the North Korean people, but the failed policies of Kim Jong Il."
Though Bolton was stating the obvious, the fact that he said it publicly on the eve of negotiations with the touchy and thin-skinned North Koreans was seen as an effort to sabotage the talks. In addition, his State Department adversaries say, Bolton has orchestrated press leaks that undercut efforts to resolve differences with the Pyongyang regime.
As the Los Angeles Times noted on November 3, 2003, the extent to which former Secretary of State Colin Powell approved of Bolton is a matter of debate:
Bolton's relationship with Powell is the subject of intense speculation. Bolton detractors say that Jesse Helms -- former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an arms-control skeptic -- foisted Bolton upon a reluctant Powell. They wonder aloud why Powell keeps him on.