On Friday’s Breitbart News Daily, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton talked about the death of American student Otto Warmbier, recently released from more than a year of captivity in North Korea, most of which he spent in a coma. He also discussed what Warmbier’s death means for America’s North Korea policy moving forward. Bolton then looked at the one-year anniversary of the Brexit vote and U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“It’s obviously a personal tragedy,” Bolton told SiriusXM host Alex Marlow. “Here’s a perfectly healthy young man, goes to North Korea, and comes back and dies a few days later. Obviously, we are all feeling for his family and his friends.”
“But I think for the United States as a whole, the lesson here is about the character of the North Korean regime: that they’re so barbaric, that even if you take everything they say as true, that Otto Warmbier stole a political poster – you know, that’s what college kids do. Slap him on the wrist, put him in jail for a day, kick him out of the country. That’s what civilized countries do, but not North Korea,” he said.
“Not only did they brutalize him; they lied about it consistently for a year-and-a-half,” he noted. “They’re still holding three other Americans. They have a long history of kidnapping South Korean and Japanese citizens over the past several decades. This is the way they treat foreigners. They run a 25-million-person prison camp in their own country, under just horribly primitive conditions for most citizens. And they’re pursuing deliverable nuclear weapons and appear to be pretty close to achieving that.”
“This is not a regime that you can reason with in the same sense Americans think of that term,” Bolton contended. “They may be rational in terms of the regime in North Korea, but it’s not rational in our terms. That’s why I’m somewhat distressed with the Trump administration reaction, or at least the State Department reaction of saying, ‘Well, we’re just going to apply more pressure on North Korea to get them to change their behavior.’”
“We’ve tried that for 25 years with respect to the nuclear program. It has had no effect. I don’t think you can change the behavior of the North Korean regime because I don’t think you can change its character,” he said.
“That, to me, is why the only real solution to eliminate the nuclear threat, to stop this treatment of both foreigners and their own citizens, to give the people of North Korea a chance for a decent life, you have to end the regime. My own view is you reunite North and South Korea. The U.S. has to persuade China it’s in their interests to do it. It’s a heavy lift. I acknowledge that. But otherwise, we just keep doing what we’ve done ever since this regime was formed shortly after World War II. It only respects force, and nobody wants to see use of force on the Korean peninsula today, with its potentially tragic consequences,” said Bolton.
“The State Department can keep doing what it’s done unsuccessfully for 25 years. Year 26 is going to be exactly the same. I think we’ve got to try something very, very different. If we don’t, we’re going to get the same result,” he cautioned.
Bolton said he thinks President Trump himself is “in the right place on this.”
“I think he, as much as anybody – maybe more than anybody in his administration – understands the danger of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program,” Bolton added. I think he understands and said publicly what a terrible treatment Otto Warmbier received. It should never happen to anybody and shouldn’t happen again.”
“He’s just tweeted a few days ago he doesn’t think China has delivered on the commitments Xi Jinping made when he was here in the United States at the Mar-a-Lago summit. What Trump said then, what he’s implied in the tweet, is that China’s jiving us again – as they have been on North Korea for 25 years, and the United States will have to solve this on its own,” he said.
“The question is whether the bureaucracy responds to the president. At this point, I don’t see it, unfortunately. I don’t rule it out. Obviously, things could be happening that are not public yet. But I think the president’s in one place, and the bureaucracy is in another. The bureaucracy’s in the same place on North Korea it has been for 25 years. It just doesn’t change,” he lamented.
Bolton’s policy recommendations for North Korea included restoring “all of the sanctions previously imposed on North Korea.”
“I would correct the Bush administration’s…one of Condi Rice’s worst mistakes is taking North Korea off our list of state sponsors of terrorism. I would put them right back on that list. They’re not only state sponsors, they are terrorists themselves, given this treatment of Otto Warmbier and many others, American and non-American alike,” he declared.
“I’d put the pressure on, no doubt about it, but I think we’ve got to be realistic: it’s not going to work. It’s not going to change their behavior. They’ll find ways to evade it. Sanctions have been evaded by the North Koreans successfully with the help of China and Russia for decades. We’ve got to have a very straight talk with China about reunification, and if that doesn’t work, then our options are limited and unattractive,” Bolton warned.
Marlow turned to Britain’s exit from the European Union, which reached its one-year anniversary on Friday. He noted that very little progress has been made during the past year.
“It’s disappointing, I must say,” Bolton agreed. “It’s due to several factors. It’s due to the fact that, obviously, David Cameron had to be replaced as prime minister. I think the supporters of leaving the European Union in the Conservative Party hoped to get a champion of the Leave position in as prime minister. That didn’t happen, although Theresa May seemed to be prepared to negotiate for a hard Brexit if necessary. But then she called this snap election, and it seemed like a brilliant move at the time, but it’s resulted in the Conservative Party actually losing seats in the House of Commons, so they’re in disarray.”
“I think it’s going to be hard for Theresa May to survive politically, so you’ve had this turmoil in domestic politics that’s gotten in the way of negotiations,” he said. “I think that those who advocated Leave just need to grit their teeth and continue on because the decision to leave was then, and is today, the right decision for Britain.”
“The elites, the high-minded in Europe and in Britain and in America, all think that they should reverse their decision. That’s not going to happen. People need to get used to that,” he said.
“I think President Trump said some time ago he wanted to step up and establish a bilateral trade relationship between the U.S. and a U.K. no longer in the E.U. I think we should be moving ahead on that,” Bolton advised. “There are certain constraints the Brits face, but we can lay out the big principles so that businesses and financial services institutions on both sides of the Atlantic know what’s coming. I think it’s a win-win for the U.S. and the U.K., and I hope we pay more attention to that.”
“As hard and as unproductive as the past year has been, the fundamental decision remains correct. They just need to fight through it,” he said.
Marlow observed that the hard British left has been working out an alliance with Islamists. “It seems like the encroaching Islamist philosophies of Islamism are becoming much more prevalent and more accepted, and it seems like the priorities of the folks in the Jeremy Corbyn wing of British politics seem to be getting a much more powerful voice than I was anticipating,” he said.
“I must say, within the Labor party in Britain, the only religion that seems to be favored is Islam,” Bolton replied. “Christianity, Judaism are old-fashioned. The levels of anti-Semitism in the Labor party are at historically high levels. I think it has to do with their ideology. I think that this self-segregation, this unwillingness to join the broader U.K. culture, is a huge potential problem.”
“You know, none of the European countries have the concept of the melting pot the way we do in the United States, where people come from all over the world and get into the melting pot and emerge as Americans,” he pointed out. “It’s a huge strength of the United States. It’s why we’ve been a draw for people from all over the world forever. They understand that when they come here, they’re going to do something very different in their lives. They’re going to join a nation that is unique in the world, founded on an idea, and they change.”
“When we’ve seen in recent years people coming to this country who don’t want to get into the melting pot, who don’t want to be Americanized – they don’t even like that word; I think it’s a word we should use more often – it’s a problem for us,” he added.
“The Brits are the closest of the European countries to having that ability, but it’s been failing them for a number of years. It doesn’t work at all on the continent of Europe itself. I think this split within society, this view that some can live under sharia law, everybody else will live under the regular English legal system, is the beginning of the end of the democratic society. I don’t want to be apocalyptic about it, but I think that’s the direction it’s moving in,” Bolton said.
“The Europeans are in the midst of a decision whether they understand it or not, given the hundreds of thousands – indeed, millions – of refugees and migrants that are coming from North Africa and the Middle East,” he contended. “This is a process that’s been in play for a long time. Maybe they don’t care so much about their cultural identity. That’s their choice to make, if they want to lose it. But there are demographic trends at play here that could foreshadow a very different Europe by the end of this century. If they don’t insist on integration into the broader society, then it won’t happen.”
“In the United States, people have come here historically because they want to become Americans. They want to shed some of the baggage of the countries they’re leaving from. To the extent we suffer from that same European problem, we will have the same issues here – maybe a little bit later than the Europeans, but inevitably, we will face the same problems,” he predicted.
“I think it’s emblematic of this unwillingness to deal with this issue that you’re seeing almost daily acts of terrorism across Europe. It hasn’t happened here yet, but we’re beginning to see that pattern, and I think it’s only going to get worse,” said Bolton.
Marlow asked for Bolton’s view of the visit by President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner to the Middle East and the persistent issue of Palestinian payments to the families of suicide bombers, blatantly encouraging violence in a way that makes talk of a “peace process” farcical.
Bolton agreed these payments to the families of terrorists are “a very significant issue.”
“Secretary of State Tillerson testified – I think it’s about two weeks ago now – that the Palestinian Authority said it wasn’t going to make such payments anymore,” he recalled. “The next day, the government of Israel said that’s not true; it’s still going on.”
“You’ve got a fundamentally different perspective on many, many things in that region,” he said. “I think Jared Kushner, I think the president himself, are approaching this in good faith with a good heart. They want to see what they can do. I’ve believed for some time, however, that the two-state solution has run into a dead end. It’s not going to work. It’s not doable. The Palestinian Authority doesn’t have the legitimacy or the capability of making commitments and then carrying them out. I think you’ve got to look at something radically different.”
“I just have to say, as my honest diplomatic and political assessment, repeating the Middle East peace process as we’ve known it this past forty or fifty years, the idea of a two-state solution, isn’t going to go anywhere,” Bolton concluded.
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