Once again those newsmakers over at One Jerusalem.org hosted a wonderful bloggers roundtable. I was honored to have been asked to join them in the interview with with the singular master statesman, Ambassador John Bolton.
Ambassador Bolton is the author of the recently published memoir Surrender Is Not An Option.
It's a great historical tome. One for the ages. Buy it.
Bolton considers himself to be a “partisan member of the GOP”. A number of us consider him an American who has enormous moral courage to speak out on critical issues concerning its enemies-both internal and external.
While notably “broken heartened’ about leaving the Bush Administration, he felt compelled to do so to be free to criticize the UN, our State department and Intelligence Community on important national security issues. These include WMD in Iraq, Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear development programs. He had very strong criticisms of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s current Middle East initiatives and the careerist environment at both the State Department and the CIA.
Regarding the looming Annapolis Middle East conference, Bolton calls it one of Condi’s “delusional legacy projects”. Her other “projects” include Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs. He contended that the Intelligence community “refused to believe evidence” that Syria was building a nuclear reactor with North Korean assistance. He further stated that Condi Rice and State were in denial about it, because they desperately wanted to conclude a “nuclear free” deal with Pyongyang.
Bolton contends that the Annapolis conference is misguided and will put the U.S. in a “far worse position” and could very well result in a “decline in American influence”.
He suggested that instead, Rice and State should have concentrated more efforts on resolving the Lebanese/Syrian impasse and regime change in Iran. Asked what the problems were within the Bush Administration he pointed to the “huge cultural problems” at both State and the CIA. He suggested that they suffered from “clientitis” and “moral equivalency.” When the careworn word “unacceptable” in Bush pronouncements on the runaway Iran nuclear weapons development program was raised, Bolton suggested that the Administration will “leave things undone”. The Administration, according to him, didn’t pursue pro-active Iranian regime change and strong economic sanctions. The exception being Treasury efforts to put a corral around Iran’s international financial dealings. That left only the military option on the table. However, Bolton pointed out that State is saying “don’t do it”. So that leaves a disastrous heritage for whoever succeeds Bush.
When I pressed John Bolton about what the US should do with the proposed $1 billion World Bank loan to Iran,
......he suggested that the U.S. use it’s ‘veto power’ and tighten the financial noose around Iran-a terror sponsoring state. Bolton thought that taking North Korea “off the official terrorist list”, given the latter’s evident co-operation with Syria and Iran on WMD development, was mistaken. He views this as “an insult’ to our Japanese allies, given North Korea’s kidnapping of Japanese nationals and long range missile testing. When questioned further on the Annapolis Arab - Israeli peace conference, Bolton said that there was “no real Palestinian interlocutor.” That neither Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, currently under indictment, nor PA President Abbas can lead. On the spurious argument bubbling up in the world press that the Annapolis forum was intended to build Sunni opposition to Iran, Bolton noted that “there was no substance at the core of the Annapolis agenda”. In effect, the conference had “a hollow center”. He noted that there was no difference between Sunni versus Shia extremism - they both supported terrorism. He said that talk of concessions was” wrong at both ends”.
When queried about whether there was any change in European attitudes towards the US given the recent Sarkozy rapprochement, Bolton told the classic tale about former French President Chirac, “that anything America proposed - he opposed”. Sarkozy, according to Bolton, is “not the same”, nor is German Chancellor Merkel. He noted, however, “they failed to gain stronger sanctions” against Iran for its relentless drive towards nuclear weapons development.
Click here to listen to the conference call. In it Bolton shares his views of current foreign policy matters and he discusses why the upcoming Annapolis meeting is bad for the United States and Israel.
Click here to listen to the conference call. In it Bolton shares his views of current foreign policy matters and he discusses why the upcoming Annapolis meeting is bad for the United States and Israel.The bloggers on the call included Omri from Mere Rhetoric, Rick Richman from Jewish Current Issues, Avi Green from Tel-chai Nation, Tigerhawk, Pamela from Atlas Shrugs, Anne from Boker Tov Boulder, Don at Liberally Conservative, Carl at Israel Matzav, and Daled Amos.