Al Kamen
Al Kamen
In the Loop

Does anyone care about foreign policy?

Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton , who’d been talking about running for president, told Fox News this week that he’d decided against that move.

Bolton, also a Fox contributor, called it a “difficult decision” and said he continued to think “we need a much more robust discussion of national security issues in this presidential campaign.”

Al Kamen

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. He began his reporting career at the Rocky Mountain News and joined The Post in 1980. He has covered local and federal courts, the Supreme Court and the State Department. Follow him on Twitter.

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Indeed, barring some truly major overseas event, foreign policy matters may play less of a role in this election than in any in recent memory. The three televised debates have traditionally set aside one focusing on foreign policy matters, but you’d have to wonder whether they will bother this time around — unless it’s a session on foreign trade policy or maybe how isolationist the country should be.

Fact is, President Obama could lead a Navy SEAL team to neutralize al-Qaeda’s Ayman al- Zawahiri and Anwar al-Awlaki, broker a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians, engineer a South Korean buyout of North Korea, take out Iran’s nuclear operation, and resolve Pakistan-India tension — and get little credit in the polls.

That’s because those things don’t create a single job.

Bolton naturally blames Obama for the lack of focus on foreign policy.

“He never raises the issue unless he’s forced to” Bolton said, or when there are big operations such as the demise of Osama bin Laden.

Bolton, after declaring he was not a candidate, told us he was en route to — where else? — New Hampshire to give a speech Thursday on foreign policy.

Odd timing? Or laying the groundwork for 2016?

A bigger threat. Literally.

It’s bad enough that the Iranians are pushing ahead with their nuclear weapons program, backing terrorist groups and meddling in Iraq. Now it seems their quest for territorial expansion is also accelerating.

In fact, the country actually has gotten larger, by a whopping 14 percent, according to an announcement by the defense minister, Gen. Ahmad Vahidi. Vahidi, appearing this week on state-run television in Tehran, said Iran’s total area is larger than had been thought.

“The actual area of Iran” is 723,539 square miles, said Vahidi, as measured by new mapping software developed by the Iranian military. An earlier measure, used by most atlases, the CIA World Factbook and the geography textbooks used in Iranian schools, had the country’s area at 636,371 square miles, according to the Daily Star of Lebanon. “So now this new figure should be used,” Vahidi said.

If this is true, it means Iran, which by the old measure was the 18th-largest country in the world by area, would move up two spots, passing Libya and Sudan and coming in just behind 15th-ranked Indonesia, which, according to the CIA, is 735,358 square miles.

Title Creep, Part Deux

An item last month noted some improper media references to New Hampshire venture capitalist and Rick Perry fundraiser Greg Slayton as a former ambassador to Bermuda.

There is no ambassador to Bermuda, because it’s part of Britain. Slayton was only consul general there. The confusion may have arisen from reporters looking at his contribution-disclosure forms, on which he — or whoever filled them out for him — occasionally wrote “ambassador” in the space for listing “occupation.” (Slayton acknowledged to us that he should have made things clearer.)

We failed to note, however, that Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, where Slayton is an adjunct professor, lists him as “The Honorable Gregory W. Slayton.” That title, according to “Protocol: The Complete Handbook of Diplomatic, Official and Social Usage,” does not seem to attach to the position of consul general.

Official mail to a consul general, the handbook says, should be addressed on envelopes to “John Doe, Esquire” and, for social occasions, to “Mr. John Doe.”

Right twang

Attention all lobbyists/country music fans! “There’s still time to make plans to join” Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and five other GOP senators up for reelection for a rollicking weekend at the first annual Nashville Songwriters Weekend.

But hurry, the e-mail invite says. “Our hotel block special rate ($149 per night) is almost full,” which means you’d better book now, so your company PAC can fork over $6,000 for golf, music, a tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame and “Private Dinners.” (You also pay for airfare, naturally, but you get free buses from and to events.)

The other rockin’ senators are John Barrasso (Wyo.), Scott Brown (Mass.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Dick Lugar (Ind.), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Roger Wicker (Miss.). Doesn’t say whether Hatch, a recording artist and songwriter of some renown, might even be willing to perform some of his hits. Some of the others maybe could sing backup.

The checks for this great weekend, Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, should be made out to the Tennessee Senate Victory Fund, which is the senators’ joint fundraising committee. Remember, even if Obama somehow manages to get reelected, the Republicans’ chances to take the Senate are excellent. So those who survive primary challenges may be in powerful positions.

On the move

Washington international lawyer Mark Brzezinski, who worked on Russian and European matters at the National Security Council in the Bill Clinton administration, has been nominated to be ambassador to Sweden, replacing Matthew Barzun, an Obama fundraiser in ’08 who has been named the 2012 campaign’s national finance chair.

Brzezinski is brother of Mika of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and son of Zbig .

Oh, and . . .

Glenn A. Fine, the legendary inspector general of the Justice Department from 2000 to January 2011, overseeing high-profile investigations into matters such as the politicized hiring in the department and the firing of U.S. attorneys and the FBI’s vastly expanded use of national security letters to investigate people who were not spies or terrorists, is joining the law firm of Dechert LLP as a partner in the white-collar and securities litigation practice.

 
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