Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton appeared on Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily to talk about the Supreme Court’s opinion on President Trump’s immigration order, the White House warning to Syria on chemical weapons, North Korea’s claim that President Trump’s “American First” platform is “a version of Nazism,” and the collapse of Venezuela.
Bolton said he was not surprised that the Supreme Court settled a fairly straightforward procedural issue in Trump’s favor by unanimous consent, overruling blocks imposed by lower court judges.
“Normally in that kind of opinion, they’re not very long. It’s either yes or no, they’re going to issue a stay or they’re not. They came to the right result, allowing – and unanimously, as you say – Trump’s executive order to go into place,” he told SiriusXM host Alex Marlow, taking this as a good omen that a full Supreme Court decision will also uphold the immigration order.
“It’s interesting, I thought, that there was a concurring opinion by the three most conservative justices saying they didn’t even need to get to the next step, they were ready to uphold the president’s authority just on the record before them,” he added. “It means there are three votes certain when they argue this case in October, and however long it takes to get decided, but Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy are still up in the air.”
“I think it was a positive sign, but we don’t know what the opinions on the merits will look like, and that’s when it really gets to the point whether there’s a flat, sweeping, unequivocal rejection of the lower court opinions that basically talked about what Trump said during the campaign,” Bolton pointed out.
“Those opinions I found utterly illegitimate,” he declared. “If you want to determine whether an executive order is valid, read the executive order and measure it against the Constitution, not against political statements made in campaigns. That’s not what courts are for.”
Bolton said there has been a downward slide into “results-oriented jurisprudence” ever since the Warren court.
“When I was in law school, sometimes they called it ‘outcome determinative,’” he recalled. “They want to get to the result they want to get to, and they don’t care what the Constitution says. They don’t care what the text of the law says. They’re going to interpret whatever they can to get to the outcome they want.”
“That is a politicization of the courts that fundamentally destroys judicial independence. The judiciary should operate under a different system. It should interpret the law, the Constitution, as it exists, as it was written to be applied. If you have different opinions, that’s great – don’t be a judge, be a legislator,” he said.
Bolton agreed with Marlow that the same criticism could be leveled at biased journalists.
“That’s been a problem with the mainstream media for a long time,” Bolton said. “They pretend to be neutral, and they haven’t been. That’s why they’re outraged at Breitbart, and Fox, and a lot of talk radio, because they say, ‘My goodness, they’re conservative!’ Well, no kidding! The mainstream media don’t realize they’re biased because all of them are that way. It’s like somebody once said: it’s like a fish in water. You ask a fish what it thinks of the water and it says, ‘What’s water?’ It doesn’t recognize it because it’s all around it. That’s the liberal bias in the media.”
Turning to Syria, Bolton said he has heard conflicting stories about “whether the Pentagon really believed it or went along with it” when the White House announced that the Assad regime was preparing another chemical weapons attack, and warned of dire consequences if the attack was launched.
“Ultimately they did issue a statement, and Secretary of Defense Mattis said he thought the White House warning may have averted another use of chemical weapons. We don’t know for sure, but I think that’s right,” he said.
“My view is that the use of chemical, or biological, or even worse nuclear weapons by anybody around the world is a threat to the United States,” Bolton said. “Which is why I believe when Trump fired the cruise missiles some months back, after the first Syrian use of chemical weapons on his watch, i think the threat here was justified as well – not because it means greater involvement in the Syrian civil war, but because chemical weapons themselves are a threat, because they can fall into the hands of terrorists and spread around the world.”
“I applaud the president’s view on this,” he said. “As I say, it does not mean greater involvement in the Syrian conflict per se. As I say in a piece in the Wall Street Journal this morning, we need a larger post-ISIS strategy in any event, and part of it’s dealing with Syria backed by Russia, dealing with Iran backed by Russia, that we don’t have now – at least according to the Washington Post this morning, and you can take that with a grain of salt.”
“According to the Washington Post, the Pentagon strategy they’re about to propose to Trump looks a lot like the Obama strategy,” he elaborated. “I hope that’s not right. That’s what worries me.”
Marlow next presented Bolton with North Korea’s insult to President Trump’s “America First” vision, which they called “a version of Nazism.”
“I think this particular statement is aimed at the population of South Korea,” Bolton said. “South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in is coming into Washington today. They have an official dinner tonight, discussions begin tomorrow.”
“Moon Jae-in believes in what’s called the ‘Sunshine Policy,’ which is you can reach a diplomatic accommodation between North and South Korea. This was tried ten years ago. It was a complete failure. It’s a prescription for the North Koreans to move forward and take advantage of this gullibility in the South,” he said.
“I think what they’re doing is they’re trying to put pressure on Moon Jae-in through South Korea’s population to stand up to Trump. We’ll see what happens. The North Koreans, their propaganda is crude by our standards, but I think here it’s not aimed at the wider world. It’s aimed at South Korea,” Bolton judged.
Marlow moved on to the deteriorating situation in Venezuela, where Bolton said democracy has “failed over a sustained period of time, and particularly in the last 15 years since the coup that brought Hugo Chavez to power.”
“He’s now died, his former foreign minister Maduro is now president,” he noted. “It’s an authoritarian system. Largely the military is in control because the economy has tanked. The oil industry hasn’t had serious capital investment or improvement for a long time, so it’s decreasing revenue.”
“I’m very worried about Venezuela,” Bolton professed. “I’m worried that the instability there will spread as it has to Colombia before, and it’s a source of real potential problems for the United States.”
“Unfortunately, the opposition itself is disorganized and ineffective,” he continued. “Under Obama, they just thought the Maduro regime was the cat’s meow. They didn’t do anything. I’m not sure that the new administration is focused adequately on Latin America. It cannot be in America’s interest to have this turn into a failed state, and become potentially even a haven for terrorists internationally.”
“There are large parts of the border area between Colombia and Venezuela still where the FARC narco-terrorists have had bases before, despite the peace deal that they’ve negotiated in Colombia,” he explained. “I’m not at all sure that’s a lasting proposition. So this instability is a real problem for the countries involved, but it’s also a threat to us because of the narcotics trafficking, because of the potential for terrorists to take root there, and for radical movements like the Sandinistas in Nicaragua to expand their influence.”
Marlow asked Bolton to look past wishful thinking and deliver the truth about the Venezuelan opposition.
“I think there are a lot of Venezuelans who sincerely just want a representative government, would like to get out of this trap they’ve been in for the last 15 years,” Bolton replied. “But there are forces within the military, it’s a very confused situation down there, that may be even more radical. Castro regime advisers are all over Venezuela, and many think Maduro is essentially following the policies that they’re recommending, because Cuba under Raul Castro needs cheap Venezuelan oil to keep that regime afloat.”
“There’s a lot going on there: the risk of Russian involvement behind the scenes, Iranian involvement behind the scenes, because of Venezuela’s extensive uranium supplies,” he warned. “It’s very complicated, and honestly we’re just not paying enough attention to it.”
“Almost every president comes in saying, ‘I’m going to pay more attention to the Western Hemisphere.’ Then they get attracted by other things, and we end up with this lack of focus that allows this sort of turmoil and instability to grow,” Bolton lamented.
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