John Bolton on War & Peace
Military force in Syria is counterproductive
Bolton said that while the civil war in Syria does involve American national security interests, action at this stage--more than two years into the bloody conflict--would be counterproductive. "It is a mess largely of the president's own creation,"
Bolton charged. "I think our credibility has been damaged, I think the president's credibility has been. But feckless use of military force would damage the country's credibility more."
Bolton said the Syrian opposition contains factions that are
deeply hostile to the U.S., and there's no indication that propping them up would be any better for American interests. The U.S. would be better off focusing on threats emanating from Iran, he said. "If you use massive military force against
Assad, then that will tip the balance, which I think would be a mistake," Bolton said, acknowledging that the situation is complicated. "If you use minimal force, you won't make the point about deterrence."
Source: Politico.com "Bush vets split"
, Aug 31, 2013
Leaving Afghanistan is act of surrender in war on terror
Barack Obama's latest act of surrender in the war against terrorism comes in Afghanistan. Administration sources are leaking that Obama is considering withdrawing all American troops before Dec. 31, 2013, one year early, without leaving even a small,
residual force in the country. Such a decision would simply accelerate an already badly misguided policy. Faster draw-downs in Afghanistan are bad enough but even worse is Obama's inability or unwillingness to see the inevitably broader adverse
According to polls, Americans are weary of the Afghan conflict, so Obama sees another chance to declare the war on terror over and also to score domestic political points. Americans are "war weary" about Afghanistan for specific reasons.
As president, Obama has repeatedly insisted there was no rationale for a "war on terrorism" and that he will end the wars he inherited.
Source: AEI Scholars column: Staying in Afghanistan
, Jul 13, 2013
Iraq is better off now than under Saddam
Source: AEI Scholars column: Was the Iraq War worth fighting?
, Mar 19, 2013
- MYTH 1: Iraq is worse off now than under Saddam. (This charge could only come from people with a propensity to admire totalitarianism. Iraq has certainly gone through a hard decade, but its citizens now have a chance, denied them under
Saddam, to forge a new society.)
- MYTH 2: Wars to impose democracy invariably fail. (Whether true or not, this is irrelevant; such arguments played no measurable role in the decision to end Saddam's regime.)
- MYTH 3: Bush lied about Iraq's weapons
of mass destruction. (America and its allies believed that Iraq had stocks of chemical weapons not because of espionage, but because of Saddam's own 1991 declarations.)
- MYTH 4: US military intervention was far more aggressive than necessary.
(The more accurate criticism is that our inconstancy has too often caused us to stop short of achieving desirable objectives. [We should have] liberated Kuwait and then marched to Baghdad to overthrow Saddam during the Gulf War.)
If you want peace, prepare for war
Q: Some critics shoot arrows at you for supposedly being too hawkish. This is the charge leveled at anyone who dares suggest that a superpower should use force to achieve an objective, no matter how dire the circumstance.
A: It is central to
successful US foreign policy that we achieve the overwhelming preponderance of our key objectives diplomatically, without the use of force. But as the Romans said, "si vis pacem, para bellum": If you want peace, prepare for war.
George Washington used the maxim in his first State of the Union address, and in our day, Ronald Reagan characterized his policy as "peace through strength." The point is clear. Unfortunately, too many mistake resolve for belligerence. President
Obama, for example, acts as if American strength is provocative. This is exactly backwards. It is not our strength that is provocative, but our weakness, which simply emboldens our adversaries to take advantage of what they see as decline and retreat.
Source: AEI Scholars column: 5 Questions
, Sep 11, 2012
2008: Supported Israeli military operations in Gaza Strip
The UN's recent Goldstone report on Israel's 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in the Gaza Strip criticized Israel for violations of the law of war, such as the "disproportionate use of force," in ways that severely undermine Israel's
inherent right of self-defense. If such conclusions become widely accepted, they will obviously have direct and substantial effects on our ability to undertake our own self-defense, which is, of course, exactly what the globalists have in mind.
Source: Obama is Endangering our Sovereignty, by John Bolton, p. 30
, May 18, 2010
Drone strikes don't get Mirandized; why should others?
The campaigns in Afghanistan and Pakistan employ armed drone aircraft to target and kill terrorist leaders and supporters, although, needless to say, the targets don't get Miranda rights read to them. The administration seems unwilling to reconcile these
strikes with how it handles terrorists captured in the US. Already, there are international complaints that the drone attacks are precisely the kinds of "targeted" or "extra-judicial" killings complained about for years when undertaken by Israel.
Source: Obama is Endangering our Sovereignty, by J. Bolton, p. 31-32
, May 18, 2010
1966: I was like a space alien at anti-Vietnam Yale
I got into Yale, where I started in the fall of 1966, on scholarship. Yale was intense, especially in the late 1960s when anti-Vietnam War sentiment was growing around the country.
I was just as much of a libertarian conservative at Yale as I had been in 1964, and given the prevailing campus political attitudes, I might as well have been a space alien.
By senior year, students at Yale and elsewhere had decided that "striking" by not attending classes was an effective way to protest whatever was the flavor-of-the-day political issue. I didn't understand or approve of students' striking. I especially
resented the sons and daughters of the wealthy, of whom there were many, telling me that I was supposed to, in effect, forfeit my scholarship. I had an education to get, and the protestors could damn well get out of my way as I walked to class.
Source: Surrender is Not an Option, by John Bolton, p. 7-8
, Nov 6, 2007
1970: Joined National Guard to avoid "ludicrous" Vietnam War
Before graduation, I joined the Maryland National Guard, finding a position by driving from armory to armory in the Baltimore area and signing up on waiting lists until a slot opened up. I had concluded that the Vietnam War was lost,
and I made the cold calculation that I wasn't going to waste time on a futile struggle.
Dying for your country was one thing, but dying to gain territory that antiwar forces in Congress would simply return to the enemy seemed ludicrous to me.
Looking back, I am not terribly proud of this calculation, but my World War II veteran father, who still risked his life daily for his fellow citizens as a firefighter, approved of it, and that was good enough for me.
Source: Surrender is Not an Option, by John Bolton, p. 11
, Nov 6, 2007
North Korea will never give up nuclear weapons voluntarily
[Under Clinton], their catechism was always the same: North Korea can be talked out of its nuclear weapons program.
The Democratic People Republic of Korea (DPRK) will never give up nuclear weapons voluntarily. If often promises to do so, as it did in
the Clinton administration's 1994 Agreed Framework. It will even more readily BARGAIN over that promise, especially in exchange for items of tangible economic and political value, such as fuel, oil, nuclear reactors, "security assurances," or removal
from our list of state sponsors of terrorism. The DPRK will gladly "engage" with us, accept our concession, and then violate its own commitments. The DPRK has followed this game plan successfully many times, and it has every reason to believe
it will continue to succeed into the future.
In short, the Clinton policy and the Agreed Framework were classic illustrations of the delusion that a rogue state could be coaxed out of nuclear weapons, and were embarrassments to the US.
Source: Surrender is Not an Option, by John Bolton, p. 99-101
, Nov 6, 2007
Throughout Bush presidency, Iranian nukes were a problem
Throughout George W. Bush's presidency, Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions were a constant problem. Iran's goals never changed, but the administration's goals were too often in flux, and not pursued as consistently or as relentlessly as they might
have been. Whether, after his reelection, President Bush wavered personally remains unknown, but too many of his subordinates did, and he allowed them to do so. As a result, Iran continued to make progress toward its goal, while we watched.
I certainly did not accomplish what I wanted to do on Iran. I was not able to convince enough other people above me of the seriousness of Iran's threat;
I suggested early on a multilateral diplomatic course that others hijacked and ran in slow motion, to my dismay and to our detriment; and finally, time just ran out on me as I left State.
Source: Surrender is Not an Option, by John Bolton, p.130
, Nov 6, 2007
Extend international order friendly to our security.
signed Project for the New American Century Statement of Principles
Conservatives have not confidently advanced a strategic vision of America's role in the world. We aim to change this. We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership.
As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world's preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests? Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today.
Here are four consequences:
Source: PNAC Principles 97-PNAC-WP on Jun 3, 1997
- we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;
- we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;
- we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;
- we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.
Page last updated: Jan 10, 2014