Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton did not think much of President Obama’s much-touted “pivot to Asia,” as expressed during his appearance on Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Stephen K. Bannon.
“There has been no pivot in any kind of measurable terms. I personally think the whole concept of pivoting away from the Middle East, because we’ve done so well there, to pay more attention to Asia, is a mistake,” Bolton said, with a stiff dose of sarcasm on the alleged success of Obama’s Middle East policy.
“The United States doesn’t pivot. We are everywhere because our interests are everywhere,” Bolton declared. “We do need to pay more attention to the threat of an aggressive, really a near-belligerent China in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. We need to worry about North Korea’s ongoing nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.”
“Although we should pay more attention to Asia, that doesn’t mean we pay less attention to the Middle East, where key allies like Israel remain threatened, where Iran is still on the path to nuclear weapons,” he argued.
“The whole thing, to me, is demonstrative of Obama’s just unreal approach to national security. It’s like he’s on another planet. He’s motivated by ideology, as we saw at the Hiroshima visit. He’s not motivated by American national security,” Bolton charged.
Bannon speculated that Obama’s strategy is to somehow contain China without projecting American strength into Asia, through such measures as making an arms deal with Vietnam, and his visit to Japan – a dangerously fragile strategy, when so much vital shipping passes through the waters China is attempting to control.
Bolton said defining Obama’s strategy was “an impossible question because,” he asserted, “I don’t think he knows.”
For example, he thought the lifting of the arms embargo against Vietnam was “clearly something pushed by the Pentagon and motivated by their concerns.”
“They like access to Cam Ranh Bay, where we once had a naval base in South Vietnam,” Bolton explained. “It’s a beautiful harbor, could be very important for a U.S. presence in the South China Sea. And they want to show Vietnam that we understand their concerns about China trying to take Vietnamese territory and really pose a threat to Vietnam, not only on their north, but on their east, as well.”
These may be important concerns for the Pentagon, but Bolton said they are “not something that’s core to Obama’s beliefs or that’s reflective of a larger strategy.”
“I think he just got pushed into it by the Pentagon, and didn’t want to make it look like he was completely ignoring this Chinese threat,” he speculated. “I think his interest in international affairs is episodic at best. I think his focus has been so much on fundamentally transforming America. That’s what he said in the 2008 campaign.”
Bolton thought Obama “dips into” foreign policy “only when it’s part of his effort to rewrite American history, to show that we’re no different than anybody else, that American exceptionalism is a myth, and to apologize for all the things that we’ve done, as he famously once said, before he was even born – before sweetness and light descended on the world.”
Bannon noted that Obama has left himself, and the next U.S. president, with few cards to play when it comes to projecting American power because “the fleet is in the worst shape it’s been in since Jimmy Carter’s days,” and “the Army and Marine Corps are literally burned out from multiple deployments in the Middle East,” even as Obama seeks to downsize the armed forces.
Bolton doubted that Obama’s loyal media understand just how badly American force projection has deteriorated. Instead, he said they “share Obama’s view, and just don’t care about it.”
“To have the kind of presence in the waters of East Asia that the United States needs to have, to protect our vital interests, requires the Navy being substantially increased, in terms of the number of ships at sea. That’s something that doesn’t happen overnight,” he warned. “If we started a massive ship-building campaign today, it would still be years before it would come into play, and we’d actually lose more ships, as the existing fleet continues to age out.”
“Donald Trump has said repeatedly he wants to rebuild the military because he knows that when you simply make statements and don’t back them up, as Obama does all the time, eventually people come to discount everything you say,” Bolton observed.
“Hillary Clinton’s going to give a big speech on foreign policy today. It’s expected that she’s going to rip into Trump. I’d like to hear one word from her on what her military budget plans are. She can talk about this or that or the other thing, but what’s she going to do to solve this problem of resources, that give the oomph to American reach?” he asked.
Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.