Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton discussed immigration reform, the New York City subway attack, and policy toward North Korea and China on Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow.
Bolton said the White House is correct to emphasize “chain migration and the visa lottery” when discussing immigration reform.
“These are elements of our immigration policy – our legal immigration policy – which make no sense whatever, and now we see the danger that can come from it,” Bolton said. “I think we need to worry not just about illegal immigration. We need a fundamental reform of the legal immigration system as well. The president has proposed something along those lines.”
“This has nothing to do with being anti-immigrant,” he continued. “Personally, I favor more American citizens. China and India each have populations of 1.2 billion. We have a population of slightly over 300 million, so a few more Americans would be a good thing – but we need to do it in a way that maximizes the benefit to the country, and then once the immigrants get here, they go through a process of Americanization.”
“We used to call it the melting pot. That’s unfashionable now because of multiculturalism. But I honestly believe that America’s strength over the years has been through our essentially unique process of turning immigrants into Americans. That’s something we need to get back to, as well as fixing immigration,” he urged.
Bolton said the New York City subway attack was perpetrated by a would-be suicide bomber who “flatly said he was inspired by ISIS and their ideology,” most of which he imbibed over the Internet.
“I think it puts the lie to this idea that terrorist acts are kind of random, that there’s no anti-Western ideology that by spontaneous combustion a normal person becomes a terrorist overnight someday,” he said. “It reinforces that this is a global challenge, and one the president is committed to meeting. We still have work to do.”
Bolton dismissed the claims of bomber Akayed Ullah’s wife that she was completely ignorant of his radicalization as “implausible.”
“This is something that I think moderate Muslim leaders around the United States, and non-Muslims as well, need to face up to. Denying the existence of the threat doesn’t help us overcome it. Understanding how ISIS and others can communicate through social media, which they’ve demonstrated they’re expert at, continuing to do that even after the caliphate itself falls in Syria and Iraq,” he said.
“This is a continuing threat. We’ve had repeated briefings by intelligence beginning at the end of the Obama administration that the global threat for us remains at roughly 9/11 levels. Those in the country who ignore it do so at their peril, and at the peril of the rest of is too,” he warned.
Marlow asked Bolton if reports of Chinese warplanes conducting “encirclement patrols” around Taiwan and the islands of Japan indicated an escalation of tensions. Bolton said the patrols were indeed an escalation, but did not represent a major change in Chinese policy.
“We have focused, our country has, on what China has been doing in the South China Sea. It’s outrageous and unacceptable. They’re trying to take over the entire South China Sea. Had Hillary Clinton been elected president, I’m sure they would have done it,” he said.
“China has ambitions in the East China Sea as well, and you can look at a map and see why,” he added. “They want Taiwan back. They think it’s part of China. They want what they call the Diaoyu Islands, the Senkaku Islands to the Japanese. They want to break out of what military strategists call the first island chain, which cuts China off from the Pacific.”
“It’s a real challenge to the United States, with our Navy diminished after eight years of savage Obama administration budget cuts, but I think it’s something very real,” he cautioned. “We’ve got to confront this. China is threatening across a whole range of its periphery. We tend to think of China mostly in terms of trade deals, but it is a geopolitical threat, and it’s a rising threat.”
Bolton responded to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s controversial offer of unconditional talks with North Korea by calling such talks “a waste of oxygen.”
“North Korea for 25 years has lied to us repeatedly, saying they would give up their nuclear weapons program in exchange for light water reactors, heavy fuel oil, other kinds of foreign assistance, you name it. They have repeatedly violated their commitments,” he pointed out.
“They are very close now to achieving the capability of hitting any target in the United States with a thermonuclear weapon carried on an ICBM. We’re down now to very limited, very unattractive options to deal with this,” he advised.
“The notion that it would be acceptable to talk to North Korea is simply a statement that we’re prepared to have North Korea with nuclear weapons,” Bolton contended. “If I were North Korea, at some point I might jump into a negotiation with the United States to put us on stall until we at North Korea had crossed the finish line, to worry about guidance systems, reentry, detonation of a nuclear weapon, targeting systems – get all that perfect while we’re jawing with the Americans.”
Bolton said the evident discrepancy between the president’s tough position on North Korea and Secretary of State Tillerson’s comments is “another example the White House doesn’t have control of the State Department yet.”
“By the way, to have a bilateral discussion between the United States and North Korea bypasses Japan, bypasses South Korea,” he added. “Maybe we could do it under extraordinary circumstances, but at this point, I think the populations in Japan and South Korea are very worried about this North Korean threat, and it’s not getting any less threatening as time goes on. Despite President Trump’s effort, there’s no indication, I think, that China is really willing to do what they have the unique capability to do, which is to bring down the North Korean regime.”
Bolton found it interesting that newspapers like the Washington Post have editorialized in favor of regime change in North Korea. He saw that as a concession that “25 years of negotiations have failed,” as Susan Rice of the Obama administration has said, but he disagreed with Rice’s conclusion that “we could live with North Korea with nuclear weapons.”
“I think thinking across the country is changing. I think people see that this is a threat that isn’t going to go away by chit-chatting with North Korea, and that we’ve got some very hard choices to make here,” he said.
One place thinking does not seem to be changing is at the State Department, which Bolton said remained largely in “open revolt against the administration” on matters such as North Korea and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
“There was just a remarkable press briefing today after the president’s speech where career officials at the State Department said, ‘No, we’re not going to change the maps, no we’re not going to put on passports that somebody was born in Jerusalem, Israel, basically nothing is going to change,’” he said, comparing this bureaucratic intransigence to a State Department official declaring “no change in policy” after President George W. Bush’s famous “Axis of Evil” speech.
“There are foreign service and civil service officers there who know they’re supposed to carry out the president’s policy, but not all of them, by a long shot,” he said of the State Department.
Bolton noted President Trump was very careful to say the decision to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem was not an effort to change the borders of Jerusalem or Israel, or to prejudice final negotiations with the Palestinians.
“I thought he threaded that needle exactly correctly,” Bolton said. “We’re talking about land that Israel has held since independence in 1948. For the State Department just to blithely ignore that shows that, number one, they don’t agree with it – as if anybody needed any proof of that – and number two, they don’t care what he says. They don’t care what he says.”
“The remedy for that is that the Secretary of State calls these people into his office and says, ‘Change.’ That’s what needs to happen,” he urged. “Look, a bureaucracy like the State Department – seventy, seventy-five thousand people – is like a big aircraft carrier. It’s proceeding on a course. When a new president comes in, it doesn’t change course. It just keeps going in the same direction until somebody says, ‘We’ll put it into reverse.’ Even then it takes time to turn the aircraft carrier around. But if you’re not telling people to change, they don’t change. That’s the way the bureaucracy works.”
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