Former U.N. ambassador and American Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow John Bolton joined SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily to review the vice presidential debate from a national security perspective.
“I thought there was more discussion, more serious discussion, of national security issues in the VP debate than there was in the first presidential debate,” said Bolton. “No thanks to the moderator, really, and no thanks to Tim Kaine of the Democratic ticket. It struck me he was going for the Ankle-Biter of the Year Award, with his approach to the debate.”
“Mike Pence did a great job. I think he’s almost universally conceded to have been the winner, and in large part, it’s because on national security he showed the kind of calm, responsible, but strong position that I think reflects the mainstream views in the Republican Party,” Bolton offered, adding:
That should give comfort, I think, to people who are still undecided at the top of the ticket, that Mike Pence is a very steady voice, and he spoke very sensibly and knowledgeably – as opposed to Tim Kaine, who, honestly, looked not just on national security, but on many fronts, like he was repeating memorized talking points, not reflecting his own thinking on some of these subjects.
Bolton agreed with Marlow’s contention that Tim Kaine’s claim that Hillary Clinton had somehow shut down Iran’s nuclear program was one of the most outrageous “whoppers” of the night:
I think it shows that where his brain ought to be on national security, there’s a big vacuum. I mean, this is a claim that’s not even closely related to reality, and I think it really underlines one of the vulnerabilities of the Democratic ticket.
One of the key points I think Trump needs to make in the second and third debates: Hillary Clinton will be Barack Obama’s third term. That’s true on national security. It’s also true on domestic issues, while we’re on the subject. But for those conservatives and Republicans who have been saying, or some who have succumbed to the belief that somehow Hillary is closer to the mainstream Republican view of American foreign policy than Trump is, they really need to think again.
These kinds of vacuous statements by Tim Kaine on the Iran deal, I think underline that. That deal was a strategic defeat for the United States when it was agreed to. It hasn’t gotten any better in the past year. Iran has not changed its behavior internationally. There’s every reason to believe that they’ve been violating the deal since before the ink was dry. We have German intelligence publishing reports already that point in that direction. We don’t know how much cooperation they have with North Korea, also an aspiring nuclear power. But we do know that Iran’s ballistic missile program, out in public view, has proceeded unimpeded, and the purpose of those ballistic missiles is not to launch weather satellites; it’s to launch nuclear warheads towards targets on other continents – i.e. North America.
So the rosy scenario that Tim Kaine tried to portray, I don’t think has any purchase in the general public, and, as I say, it should be used politically to underline the point that Hillary will be Barack Obama’s third term on foreign policy.
Bolton said Kaine’s contention that “in a lot of ways, the terror threat has decreased in the Obama years” was “flatly contradicted by senior officials appointed by Barack Obama”:
The director of National Intelligence, the director of the CIA, have both testified repeatedly, in open public sessions of Congress within the past few months, that the international terrorist is equal to or greater than it was on 9/11. There’s no doubt in my mind that when George W. Bush left office, it was significantly lower.
It’s obviously increased the spread of ISIS and other terrorist groups, the collapse of state government across North Africa and the Middle East, the descent of nearly the whole region into anarchy, the spreading number and scope of terrorist attacks in Western Europe and the United States. Really, you just have to be awake to see this; you don’t have to be an intelligence expert.
So I would add the claim that the terrorist threat has been reduced to the claim that the Iran nuclear deal is a big success. It’s another glaring error, a glaring indication that these people don’t see the world as it is, which is the absolute prerequisite for developing a foreign policy to deal with these threats and challenges.
Bolton addressed the two terrorist attacks in Brussels on Wednesday:
If those attacks had occurred in the United States, we would have heard them described as “lone wolf” attacks. The description of the person would not have been made public; it just would have been a “young male.” They would not have said that he was shouting, “Allahu akbar!” It would have been repressed, and then it would have been explained as not something to get upset about.
The fact is that the terrorist threat is changing and evolving all the time, but we should not expect it at all levels to look like it’s the product of a corporate decision-making process, pursuant to a nice box and line organization chart on some wall somewhere.
Indeed, what I think these individual terrorist attacks, sometimes suicide bombers, as is tragically the case in Israel, carrying explosive vests. Sometimes, it’s gun attacks. Sometimes, it’s knife attacks. The fact that they are random, they are unexpected, the police can’t predict them to prevent them in advance, sort of like what we saw in New York and New Jersey a couple of weeks ago at the opening of the U.N. General Assembly. That shows that the terrorist threat can appear anywhere, any time.
It can be a city in the middle of the United States, a small town as in France. It can be in a city well removed from Paris, where a monk is killed while giving mass in a church. That is the kind of terror attack that actually inspires more fear in people because it’s so unexpected. It’s so unpredicted. It occurs in such unexpected places.
The only way you’re ever going to deal with this threat comprehensively is to treat it for what it is, which is a radical ideology that needs to be opposed as such. The United States did that twice in the twentieth century, against fascism and against communism. We can do it again. We can have allies in the Muslim world who understand that the radical Islamic terrorists are as much, or even greater, threats to them as they are to the West.
But we’re not going to do it with a president who won’t acknowledge the ideology, can’t see it in his worldview, in any event thinks that the exercise of American power very often is more the cause of instability in the world than the cure for it.
Marlow asked for Bolton’s opinion, as a former U.N. ambassador, of former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres, who is likely to be the next U.N. secretary-general.
“I met with him a couple of times when I was U.N. Ambassador, right when he was beginning his tenure as the U.N. high commissioner for refugees,” Bolton recalled, continuing:
He is a former socialist Prime Minister of Portugal, a great believer in the European Union. And I recall in our first conversation, as he was heading the High Commissioner Office for Refugees, he told me how much he was worried about “populism” in the Western world – which he defined as “people who wanted control of their own borders.” And so we had, as they say, a polite exchange of views on that subject.
“I think he’s gonna bring that same attitude into the U.N.,” Bolton predicted. He added:
I think it’s possible he will be very different from Ban Ki-moon, the outgoing secretary-general, who we did elect in 2006 for the first time, precisely because we didn’t think he would try to be a “secular Pope,” as Kofi Annan, his predecessor, had been described. I think Guterres – we’ll have to see how it plays out – but I think he may be more in the model of Kofi Annan than Ban Ki-moon, which would be a problem.
He said Guterres was a “done deal” as secretary-general, so “the only thing we can do is elect Donald Trump because if we elect Hillary Clinton, she’ll play right into his hands.”
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