John Bolton on Foreign Policy
America is a benign force globally
What should the voters of Iowa and other key states do in judging presidential candidates for next year?
Source: John Bolton speech transcript from 2015 Iowa Freedom Summit
, Jan 24, 2015
- Voters should reject any candidate who treats national security policy in a dismissive or off-hand way. It is not enough to 'check the box'
by mentioning foreign policy every once in a while.
- Candidates should be proudly patriotic. They should assert that a strong American international presence is positive and necessary for us and our allies, and say clearly that
America is a benign force globally, providing order and stability, providing the foundations for the interlocking, global economy and our way of life here at home.
- Candidates must demonstrate they understand how closely interwoven
domestic and foreign policy are. A strong economy depends on that strong international presence. These are not alternative priorities, but are inextricably connected.
America's biggest threat is self-induced weakness
While President Obama may think the state of our union is strong, the truth is that with him as President we are weaker than ever, and that makes me furious. The biggest threat facing America is the self-induced weakness of the Obama Administration's
policies. I absolutely refuse to accept a weak America. Conservatives need to dig in hard and reject Obama's policies of defeatism, drift, and decline that embarrass America and expose us all to grave risk.
Source: John Bolton PAC email: 2015 State of the Union response
, Jan 20, 2015
Weak America means trouble in Russia, China, & Libya
We do not accept an America that is weak & declining. We do not accept an American military that is weak & poorly equipped, and in particular, we do not accept and American president who is weak, indecisive and apologetic about our country
Source: Speech at 2014 CPAC convention
, Mar 7, 2014
- Look at the Middle East, Russia's puppet Assad is still in power.
- Russians are selling weapons to the Egyptian government for the first time since the early 1970s, threatening Israel.
- Iran, working with Russia and running rings around
Obama, Clinton and Kerry in nuclear arms talks.
- In Latin America we see Russia re-establishing influence in Cuba and in Venezuela, threatening our own hemisphere.
- In China you've got a major military build-up going on, building their first blue
water Naval capability, ladies and gentlemen, while Obama scoffs at our declining Navy.
- But worst of all, worst of all, is Libya. Libya is the paradigm of the Obama doctrine's failures. The attack in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 was a direct attack
on the US.
Help Egyptian Army over Muslim Brotherhood, even if elected
Bolton said it's time for the US to step up to the plate and choose sides in the Egyptian conflict--and that side should be the military. "Like it or not," he said, the US ought to back Egypt's government and military, not the Muslim Brotherhood or
ousted Pres. Mohammed Morsi, despite the fact that US supported Morsi a year ago and helped his elected rise to power.
But Bolton said his view is the only one that works for the long term. "If the Muslim Brotherhood wins, say good-bye to the peace
treaty with Israel and stability in Sinai," Bolton said. "Egypt has not yet succumbed to civil war, as Syria has, but it's getting close."
Bolton wrote: "The Muslim Brotherhood is not a normal political party as Westerners understand that term. It is
an armed ideology--a militia that fires on its opponents and burns down churches. The Brotherhood, therefore, shares full blame for the continuing carnage. Should it ever regain power, whether through free elections or otherwise, it will never let go."
Source: Cheryl K. Chumley in the Washington Times
, Aug 21, 2013
International Criminal Court constrains U.S. freedom
Rather than seek discrete political, military, or trade agreements between individual nations, global governance aims to replicate the administrative state at the international level. Proponents of global governance urge vast delegations of authority to
regulate domestic and world affairs to unaccountable international institutions; thus, the UN is responsible for international peace and security; and the International Criminal Court can prosecute anyone in the world for war crimes. These institutions
will constrain US freedom of action by imposing international "norms" derived from consensus rather than respecting the decisions of constitutional democracy.
In 1986, Pres. Reagan wisely decided to block the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea because
it creates an international authority with the right to tax private undersea mining. The Obama administration's efforts to convince the Senate to approve the agreement have proven unavailing.
Source: AEI Scholars column: Treaty by decree
, Aug 5, 2013
North Korea is unnatural relic of post-WWII deal; reunify it
First, Washington, Seoul and Tokyo should make it clear that they would do everything possible to prevent or mitigate a refugee crisis following the collapse of the North Korean state.
Second, the US doesn't need or want its military forces situated
along the Yalu. The American objective, currently being implemented, is to have them near the peninsula's southern tip, available and mobile for use elsewhere in Asia & the Pacific.
North Korea is an unnatural relic of a "temporary" Moscow-Washington
arrangement following Japan's defeat. It has no historical claim to legitimacy as a separate state. Its citizens have never freely consented to it. And its continued existence leaves 23 million people perennially close to starvation. North Korea cannot
open and survive, as the regime itself well knows. But it almost has deliverable nuclear weapons. Persuading China to support reunification is the best answer. A reunification strategy should have been pressed decades ago, but better late than never.
Source: AEI Scholars column: North Korean threat
, Feb 20, 2013
US strength is not provocative, but restrains rogues
Unlike Reagan, Obama acts as if US strength is provocative, and that our actions cause the international misbehavior of others. In his worldview, if only America were less visible, less powerful, less 'offensive', others would be more restrained.
In fact, the exact opposite is true. It is our weakness that is provocative, encouraging our adversaries to think we are distracted by domestic affairs, uninterested in the threats they pose, and unwilling or unable to do anything to stop them.
When that perception becomes widespread, we are truly in danger. Others calibrate their policies to take advantage of our weakness or inattentiveness, and act to our detriment and that of our friends, as has been happening these past three and a half
years, as friend and foe alike around the world has taken Obama's measure. That is why Romney's return to a Reaganite foreign policy is so necessary for Washington and our allies.
Source: AEI Scholars column: Reaganite foreign policy
, Oct 10, 2012
We need a president who believes in American exceptionalism
Q: In a recent speech in Florida, you said, "The most important thing you need is a president who is proud of the United States of America, who believes in American exceptionalism." Can you explain why it's vital for a leader to appreciate that we do
have a special, benevolent role to play?
A: Contrary to what its critics, including many in this country, say, American exceptionalism simply recognizes the reality of our distinct history. After all, a Frenchman, Alexis de Toqueville, first
characterized us as "exceptional," and he didn't mean it entirely as a compliment! Obama once compared US exceptionalism to Britain & Greece, and he easily could have listed the other 190 UN members. If everyone is exceptional, no one is, leading almost
inexorably to believe that the US has no special role to play internationally, even on its own behalf. It leads to a "come home, America" approach that inevitably weakens the US, its friends and allies, and the values and interests we should be advancing
Source: AEI Scholars column: 5 Questions
, Sep 11, 2012
Support new sovereigntists against globalistas
Global governance, the next new thing in trendy international thought, has been typically portrayed as the nearly inevitable evolution upward from the primitive nation-state and its antiquated notions of constitutionalism and popular sovereignty.
Not "world government," wildly unpopular among knuckle-draggers in America, but a rebranded alternative, more nuanced and sophisticated.
Fortunately, while globalista academics, their handmaidens in the political commentariat, leftist think tanks, and non-governmental organizations were hard at work, others, in the late '90s, were awakening to the consequences of all that buzz.
Sometimes derided as "new sovereigntists" by the multilateralist chorus, these analysts and practitioners began examining both the precepts and the implications of the global-governance agenda.
Source: AEI Scholars column: Against the globalistas
, May 14, 2012
American sovereignty is chipped away by global governance
For several decades, Americans have slept while their national sovereignty has been threatened, chipped away and eroded by a series of innocuous-sounding and nearly imperceptible decisions.
Opponents of unfettered US sovereignty have been fashioning constraints on the exercise of our fundamental democratic rights, national power, and legitimacy.
We have been locked in a struggle between sovereignty and "global governance" that most Americans didn't even know was happening.
Not surprisingly, therefore, the "Americanists" have been losing to the "globalists".
And the general public does not yet appreciate the chasm between these two worldviews.
Source: Obama is Endangering our Sovereignty, by John Bolton, p. 1
, May 18, 2010
International "norming" constrains US sovereignty
Threats to US sovereignty are both imminent and long-term. One element that runs through many of them, however, is the concept of international "norming"--the idea that America should base it policies on the international consensus,
rather than making its own decisions as a constitutional democracy. Using norming, the international Left seeks to constrain US sovereignty by moving our domestic political debate to align with broader international opinion.
Because of the centrality of individual freedom in the US, norming advocates are invariably on the left of the political spectrum; there are simply no other nations out there as liberty-oriented as we are.
One way to drive norming is through votes in multilateral organizations, operating under the "one nation, one vote" principle.
Source: Obama is Endangering our Sovereignty, by J. Bolton, p. 16-17
, May 18, 2010
International human rights experts & courts not needed in US
Many senior administration officials have demonstrated their sympathy for using international "human right" norms on the conduct of war to constrain the US. Of course, no one advocates uncivilized or inhumane behavior, but the critical point is who
defines such behavior and who holds those who violate the accepted standards accountable. Under our Constitution, we are fully capable of deciding how and when to use military force, how our warriors should conduct themselves, and how to deal with those
who violate our standards. We do not need international human rights experts, prosecutors, or courts to satisfy our own high standards for American behavior.
This is not the view, however, of those who want to constrain our sovereignty. After all, if we decided what is right and wrong, they couldn't second-guess us and bend us to their views.
Source: Obama is Endangering our Sovereignty, by John Bolton, p. 29
, May 18, 2010
Unitary UN: funding based on measurable accomplishments
By the end of the Reagan years, State had concluded that the UN had sufficiently reformed that we should begin repaying the arrearage built up during the 1980s. Incoming president Bush endorsed the plan, which contemplated repaying the arrearage at the
rate of 20% a year, over a 5-year period.
I had no doubt that Bush, a former US permanent representative to the UN, who had called it "the light that failed," had a thoroughly realistic view of both the UN's potential and its problems.
The issue, though, was to translate out intentions into a strategy that was more than just perpetual dissatisfaction with contribution levels. I created a conceptual framework called the "Unitary UN" for this purpose, hoping to take a global view of
the entire system, to compare performance levels so we could allocate funds based on real accomplishments. No other country paid as much attention to what the UN actually achieved, as opposed to its aspirational rhetoric.
Source: Surrender is Not an Option, by John Bolton, p. 33-34
, Nov 6, 2007
Happiest moment at UN: exiting International Criminal Court
My happiest moment at State was personally "unsigning" the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC purportedly has authority to try individuals for crimes against humanity, and its advocates see it as the heir to the
post-WWII Nuremberg Tribunals. I viewed it instead as an unaccountable prosecutor, possibly politically motivated, posing grave risks for the US and its political and military leaders.
The question was whether we would eliminate any ambiguity about our views by removing our signature, which I advocated. State's lawyers and others vigorously disliked the concept of "unsigning," let along doing it to this treaty, but I was determined
to establish the precedent, and to remove any vestigial argument that America's signature had any continuing effect.
My only regret is that we didn't unsign more bad treaties, like Kyoto and the CTBT, during the Bush administration.
Source: Surrender is Not an Option, by John Bolton, p. 85
, Nov 6, 2007
United Nations Security Council overemphasizes Africa
The concentration of the Security Council's work on Africa is staggering, In mid-2005, there were 8 continuing African peacekeeping operations, out of a total of 17 worldwide.
In 2006, the Council passed a total of 87 resolutions, of which 76 dealt
with specific conflict situations. Of those, 46 addressed African conflicts. As tragic and homicidal as Africa's conflicts have been, however, there is no serious argument that 60% of the aggregate threat to international peace and security is
concentrated on that continent, not when compared to the global proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism. The Council concentrates on Africa for a variety of reasons, and one could make the argument that this
concentration was justified if problems in Africa were actually being solved. The unfortunate reality, however, is that the UN is both ineffective in Africa and inattentive (and often ineffective) to more pervasive problems elsewhere.
Source: Surrender is Not an Option, by John Bolton, p.341-342
, Nov 6, 2007
1981: Returned $21M in unspent USAID funds to Treasury
At the Agency for International Development (AID), our main program of bilateral foreign economic assistance [was] in effect the descendant of the Marshall Plan. Our goal was to make AID's programs more market-driven.
While at AID, early on, we made a key point by returning to the US Treasury $28 million that was obtained by canceling AID projects around the world that were failing.
This was not a huge amount of money in Washington, but it was a shock to a government culture of spending that NEVER returned money to the Treasury. We made up a big check, like the ones seen on game shows, which Reagan obviously loved.
Although we made only a start in the 1980s at AID, the collapse of Communism seemed to show that pro-liberty, premarket forces essentially won the debate.
Source: Surrender is Not an Option, by John Bolton, p. 20-21
, Nov 6, 2007
Organized repeal of UN "Zionism is racism" resolution
Most important was the effort to repeal General Assembly Resolution 3379, the infamous 1975 text equating Zionism with racism, and a clear effort to delegitimize Israel. Passage of "Z/r" as we called it, had instead delegitimized the UN in the minds of
During the Cold War, there was essentially no chance that the Soviets would give up their hard-won victory. With the advent of glasnost and perestroika in the Soviet Union, however, I saw the possibility of righting the historic wrong
represented by "Z/r" and also demonstrating that the US might actually be able once again to win highly contentious votes in the General Assembly. Yes, Resolution 3379 was a shameful thing, but it would be a huge effort to repeal. "Let it lie on the
shelves and gather dust" was the way one Soviet diplomat put it to me.
Persistence paid off. As one of its last official acts before it dissolved, the Soviet Union voted to repeal the resolution it had inspired. "Z/r" was dead.
Source: Surrender is Not an Option, by John Bolton, p. 40-42
, Nov 6, 2007
Legally binding international law? Just theological exercise
The February meeting [preparing for the] May 18 Summit with Putin turned out to be no more than reciting established positions on whether the offensive weapons levels should be fixed in a "legally binding document" (a treaty or an executive agreement)
or [just] a joint statement. Powell and Rice favored the former, while Rumsfeld and Cheney favored the latter. Since I saw treaties as essentially only political documents, and the while debate over what was "legally binding" in "international law" as
just another theological exercise, I didn't care about the answer. Most important, Putin had asked Bush for a treaty, and Bush appeared to agree.
Pointing at me, Bush said, "Now look, John, this piece of paper is important from our
strategic perspective. Putin is at huge risk, and he needs to fight off his troglodytes. Without a treaty, however, there is no discipline, but we're not going to have any changes by Congress; this will be a straight up-or-down vote."
Source: Surrender is Not an Option, by John Bolton, p. 76-77
, Nov 6, 2007
UN Security Council is effective; don't expand it
Compared to other UN bodies, the Security Council actually makes decisions that affect the real world, among which, at least in theory, could be:
The council's actual record, of course, was far from the ideal, as divergent views often brought it to a screeching halt. The most
significant case in point was the Cold War, in which the Council played no visible role, and because of which it was largely paralyzed for over 40 critical years. Calls for Security Council "reform" (a euphemism for "expansion") have been major
themes in recent years. As with many such issues in the UN, of course, nothing really happened. It was also typical of the UN that so much wasted effort was spent on "reforming" the one major body that actually worked halfway decently from time to time.
Source: Surrender is Not an Option, by John Bolton, p.247-249
, Nov 6, 2007
- Dealing with threats to international peace and security, such as Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and
the disintegration of former Yugoslavia
- Establishing and overseeing UN peacekeeping operations
- And many more.
State Dept. requires political leadership to change
A bureaucracy without sufficient political leadership cannot be used effectively. Led inadequately or inattentively, the State Department's careerists will simply continue doing what they want to do.
Source: Surrender is Not an Option, by John Bolton, p.450-452
, Nov 6, 2007
- The most serious of State's cultural
deficiencies is one that the permanent bureaucracy has named: "clientitis." The term means excessively advocating the interests of the country or region for which an official is responsible.
- "Moral equivalency," a disease of the sophisticated, is
highly contagious. It involves equating actions or policies that are fundamentally different. For example, Palestinian terrorism and Israeli defensive responses are equated.
- "Mirror imaging" is related to moral equivalency, involving the inability
to see that representatives of other countries do not bargain on the same terms as our diplomats.
- Most fundamentally, State careerists are schooled in accommodation and compromise with foreigners, rather than aggressive advocacy of US interests.
Role in the world: military strength and moral clarity.
Bolton signed Project for the New American Century Statement of Principles
American foreign policy is adrift. Conservatives have criticized the incoherent policies of the Clinton Administration. They have also resisted isolationist impulses from within their own ranks. But conservatives have not confidently advanced a strategi
Source: PNAC Principles 97-PNAC-FP on Jun 3, 1997
Page last updated: Mar 11, 2016