John Bolton: ‘Putin Would Like Nothing Better Than to Slice Turkey Off of NATO’

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) listens to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the 23rd World Energy Congress on October 10, 2016 in Istanbul. Putin visits Turkey on October 10 for talks with counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pushing forward ambitious joint energy projects as the two sides try to overcome …

Former UN Ambassador and AEI Senior Fellow John Bolton joined SiriusXM host Raheem Kassam on Friday’s Breitbart News Daily for a discussion of the global terrorist threat, beginning with the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey on Monday.

“I think in terms of the attack on a diplomat, of whatever nationality, the way that you have contact – and this has developed over thousands of years – is to send out an envoy, and the only way that you can really get started is if there’s a guarantee of safe passage, and a guarantee of safety in the country, or the place to where they’ve been accredited,” Bolton observed.

“I think this is not widely understood in America: the main element of protection for foreign diplomats is by local police authorities. Responsibility for foreign diplomats in the United States, for their protection, is primarily federal and state and local police forces. Likewise in most other developed countries,” he explained.

“Here you have a police officer who, whether he was on the Russian ambassador’s protective detail, or whether he was just known to other police officers and therefore, was allowed to get that close to him, obviously allowed him to assassinate him. But bear in mind, if he could get that close to the Russian ambassador, he could get that close to the American ambassador, or anybody else,” Bolton warned. “So that kind of threat from a terrorist working through law enforcement bodies is something that I think we’ve not thought of before, or at least in public, we haven’t discussed it before, and it poses really a significant new concern about vetting on normal law enforcement bodies.”

“Now, what will Russia do? I think Putin has played this masterfully from Russia’s point of view,” Bolton said. “He has seen President Erdogan of Turkey leading Turkey away from the hundred-year history of Mustafa Kemal, after World War I – after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, trying to make Turkey a secular state, trying to move it toward the West. Erdogan moving in the opposite direction, moving away from the West generally, and I’m afraid specifically away from NATO.”

“Putin would like nothing better than to slice Turkey off of NATO. So rather than being belligerent against Erdogan, he has talked about renewing the attack on terrorism because the early indications – and it remains uncertain – but the early indications are that this fellow may have been from al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria waging war against the Assad regime. Erdogan may find this dalliance with Putin to his advantage, domestically and internationally. It’s another troubling development for the United States and its friends in the region, including our friends in Turkey,” he said.

Kassam mentioned early speculation that the Ankara attacker had bribed his way into the art gallery, before it became known he was a police officer. Bolton agreed “the corruption problem is unquestionably real.”

Bolton noted that “we’re not talking about a lot of money in American terms to buy off a police officer” in Turkey and other countries with endemic corruption problems.

As for the security challenges presented by the refugee crisis, he worried “this massive flow of refugees, out of the refugee camps from Syria across Turkey into Europe, was actually done with the full knowledge and cooperation of the Turkish government.”

“No corruption needed, although I’m sure there was some,” Bolton said. “Because I think it was a way for Erdogan to shift the burden from Turkey to Europe. You can’t move a million people without the government at least winking and nodding at it, and I think far more than that.”

“But look, this is another problem with the loss of American influence in the region,” he added. “We’re watching these things happen, and you say, ‘Well, what’s the American government’s response?’ As best we can tell – and obviously not everything should be public – but as best we can tell, Barack Obama’s doing nothing about this.”

Kassam cited a security source who told him, early in the refugee crisis, that one of Erdogan’s secret goals was to move as many Kurds out of Turkey as possible.

“Well, I think that’s certainly consistent with the policy he’s pursued with respect to the Kurds,” Bolton said. “And I would have to say, if you go back to the 800,000 refugees that Chancellor Merkel admitted to Germany unilaterally – and we know the flow was much greater than that, over a million I think is the typical estimate; let’s just take that as a round number – we have no idea how many of those people were Kurds, how many were Syrians, how many were from Lebanon, from Afghanistan, from Montenegro. They just all showed up in Europe saying, ‘Yeah, we’re from the Syrian refugee camp.’ So that is a further demonstration of the utter breakdown of any kind of vetting system at all. Forget ‘extreme vetting.’ We don’t know what percentage were Kurds. We just have no clue.”

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