Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton appeared on Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Stephen K. Bannon to offer his assessment of Ted Cruz’s speech at the Republican National Convention.
“I think he obviously was looking at 2020,” said Bolton. “I would have preferred that he ended what was a very stirring speech with an endorsement of the Republican nominee – although I must say, having read the New York Times this morning, I’m a little worried about what that means, exactly.”
“Ted, obviously, is calculating what he thinks is gonna play out in the next presidential race. I would have done it differently. He did it his way, and he got booed for it,” said Bolton.
On the foreign policy element of the 2016 campaign, Bolton said “the overwhelming majority of the Republican Party, I mean 90 percent of the people in the party, believe in Ronald Reagan’s ‘peace through strength’ approach to national security.”
“They believe in a strong military. They believe America should look after its people, and its interests, and its friends and allies around the world,” he elaborated. “And I think that’s a stark contrast with Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, and the Democratic party. We’ve just got to be sure that candidates understand where the party’s coming from – which is, as I say, this interview in the New York Times this morning, I am very disturbed by, I have to say.”
The article Bolton referred to includes a passage in which Trump said he would decide whether to come to the aid of NATO countries, “in the event of a Russian attack, only after reviewing whether those nations have fulfilled their obligations to us.”
“If he waits, and does a review after they’re attacked, they’re in deep trouble,” said Bolton.
Bolton said the United States contributes so heavily to NATO “because fewer Americans will die, if we deter Russia or other aggressors from invading.”
He accused Trump of “encouraging Russian aggression” with his statements to the New York Times, calling them “a dagger at the heart of the most successful military/political alliance in human history. He needs to retract it, and change his position.”
Bannon mentioned Turkey’s membership in NATO, prompting Bolton to agree that Turkey is in “very questionable shape at this point, but you look at, unfortunately, what Mr. Trump says about Erdogan later in the interview, that’s very troubling, too.”
“The point of a strong NATO alliance – it was true during the Cold War, it’s true today, faced with a belligerent Russia – is not to engage in military conflict, it is to deter military conflict, through strength,” Bolton declared. “That kind of statement, that Donald Trump or any other president would consider what to do after Russia has attacked, is practically inviting the attack. If I were Vladimir Putin reading this, I’d say the coast is clear.”
Bolton agreed with Bannon’s comparison of the signals sent by Trump’s remarks to the projection of indifference by Ambassador April Glaspie that led Saddam Hussein to believe he could get away with invading Kuwait.
“I’m not disputing the fact that NATO allies are not spending what they committed themselves to spend, 2 percent of their gross national product, on defense,” said Bolton. “I’m fully in agreement with the notion that they do need to spend more. They can’t simply rely on us.”
“But the point is not because we want them better equipped to fight. We want them better equipped to deter Russian belligerent behavior,” he continued. “When you rip apart the alliance like this, you’re doing Vladimir Putin’s work for him.”
He said it was possible Trump is not fully cognizant of the weight his words carry, when he speaks bluntly on such delicate international affairs, or that he might be wise to talk to different foreign-policy advisers.
“He says in this interview he talked to Henry Kissinger and Jim Baker. If they talked about NATO, he must not have picked up what they were saying,” Bolton ventured.
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