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John Bolton on Foreign Policy

 


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

Role in the world: military strength and moral clarity.

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

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Page last updated: Jan 10, 2014