Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, joined Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Stephen K. Bannon to talk about the anti-Trump open letter that 50 Republican national security leaders signed.
“I think many of them are, in that letter and more broadly, are extrapolating from things that he said, and taking them to a level that he himself believes – whether it’s on trade, or NATO, or a number of other things,” said Bolton. “He’s giving somewhat different emphases, but going back in his speech to the Nixon Center now, several months back – look, he’s clearly in the mainstream of Republican foreign policy thinking.”
“I don’t agree with him on everything. Nobody agrees with anybody on everything, to be sure,” Bolton added. “But the notion that somehow disagreements that people may have with him on the Republican side make him somehow unqualified, or less of a president than Hillary Clinton, I just find mind-boggling.”
Bannon cited a new report from the UK Guardian about a major Chinese nuclear espionage case to argue that the escalating confrontation between China and the West is a security crisis on par with the war against Islamist terrorism.
“We’re gonna be in a shooting war there in several years; you can see it coming,” he said of the South China Sea, and wondered if the fifty Republicans who criticized Trump had forgotten about the Clintons’ disturbing ties to Chinese money, along with the many Chinese espionage scandals to emerge during Bill Clinton’s presidency.
Bolton zeroed in on one such case, the Loral scandal, which had some murmuring the word “treason” in the late nineties.
“I’m glad you mentioned Loral because that, to me, is the emblem of the Clinton administration’s loss of strategic thinking, just completely overtaken by commercial policy,” Bolton said, “as if all foreign policy is about doing business, without regard to defense or national security implications for the United States.”
I think this is where the mistake is made by the people signing that letter, and by many others who purport to be Republicans. The fact is that a Clinton presidency will be four more years of Barack Obama, and all of the things that you described, in terms of the collapse of positions of American strength – whether it’s in the South China Sea, across the broad Middle East, and you’re right to say it’s the whole region, or in Eastern Europe, or a number of other places we could talk about – is gonna get worse over four or eight years, if she’s President.
I think what Trump is saying that has some people upset in the trade area and in NATO is better understood by saying, “I can get a better deal. I’m a better negotiator. And I’m going to hold our allies to their commitment, better than administrations – Republican and Democrat – have in the past.”
Elaborating, he stated:
That doesn’t mean he’s against free trade; he said he’s in favor of it. It doesn’t mean he’s against NATO; he said he wants to strengthen it. But he says things in ways the Establishment has misread, in my view, sometimes deliberately, sometimes because they’re not paying attention.
“There are people on that list I have the highest respect for, and I make no apology for saying that,” he said of the Republicans who signed the anti-Trump letter, adding:
There are a lot of people on that list I’ve never even heard of before. And there are a substantial number of people on that list that I wouldn’t recommend to be in a future Republican administration if my life depended on it. So suddenly, a lot of people have become Republicans. I thought they were career civil servants, or they were academics, people who would serve honorably in either a Republican or Democratic administration. Now, they’ve suddenly come out of nowhere to say, “Actually, we’ve always been Republicans, and we’re against Trump.”
A skeptical Bolton said:
I think that the media is obviously fastening on this because they want to show the Republican party in disarray. And there are some Republicans who are backing Hillary; there’s no doubt about it. But a lot of this list are people who are truly surprises to me, that they even think of themselves as Republican, and haven’t admitted it before – except at the point where they can sign a letter critical of Trump.
Bannon recalled that in a previous Breitbart News Daily appearance, Bolton was strongly critical of Trump’s position on NATO, and asked if he thought any of Trump’s deviations from traditional foreign policy “would lead people to say he’s unfit to be President of the United States.”
“Well, I think it would be helpful if he stressed more that his opposition, in the trade area, is not to free trade; it’s to countries that commit to free trade and then practice a mercantilist foreign policy that hurts the United States,” Bolton replied. “I think the point he has identified is that the State Department’s U.S. trade representatives are congenitally unable to say that other countries are violating their trade obligations.”
“I saw this all the time in the arms-control area,” he said. “If the point is that, if you’re going to sign a free trade agreement, you ought to live up to it – nobody’s going to dispute that. That’s the point he ought to emphasize.”
And on NATO – look, he’s saying, “I think the NATO allies ought to do what they committed to do, and I’m going to be more effective at getting them to do it than decades of officials in both political parties, who say they want the NATO allies to bear their fair share of the defense burden, but who have been remarkably unsuccessful in getting them to do it.”
“What’s wrong with getting them to say, if they agree they’re going to spend 2% of their GNP on defense, by God, we’re going to insist that they do it?” he asked. “That’s what Trump is saying. I don’t see how you can object to that.”
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