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A bumper sticker.

A bumper sticker.

Amid a world of problems, Trump’s policy prescriptions remain opaque

….Among the rumored candidates for secretary of state, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former U.N. ambassador John Bolton — both outspoken Trump supporters — are viewed as anathema by many current diplomats and as loose cannons even by many of their fellow Republicans….

John Bolton (r) [2010 file photo].

John Bolton (r) [2010 file photo].

In 2010:

[John Bolton (r)]: ….But Iran is also in the grip, uh, of a, uh, of its own form of totalitarianism, in this case, religious fanaticism that has over the past several years moved into a kind of military theocracy. The real power in Iran today is held by the Revolutionary Guards which are controlled by, uh, by military officials loyal to, uh, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Now, we are almost exactly today, uh, on the fifteenth of June, one year after the election in Iran last year held on June twelfth that was quite obviously stolen by Ahmadinejad. And you’ll remember the pictures of the demonstrators in Tehran and other Iranian cities going out into the streets to protest the fraud that was, uh, was so evident. And, you know, when the, when the, when the people who went out, students, middle class people, uh, all over the country, uh, they didn’t begin their protest by, uh, calling for the overthrow of the regime itself, although the regime is very unpopular. They just thought, uh, that they ought to have a free and fair election. The regime’s response was to bring the Revolutionary Guards and their militia allies, the Basiji, into the streets, uh, resulting in, uh, hundreds and hundreds of deaths of, uh, innocent civilians, students, uh, uh, shop owners, uh, regular people who had probably never demonstrated in their lives. This was the real face of the regime in Iran. It is a dictatorship. It is essentially today a military dictatorship. Uh, and so effective was it in crushing the opposition, uh, that this past weekend on the first anniversary of that fraudulent election, uh, there were almost demonstrations at all. And that reflects the unfortunate reality that the Revolutionary Guard’s power in Iran is even more entrenched then it was before, and reflects also their growing confidence that their pursuit of nuclear weapons is getting closer and closer to success.

What will this mean when Iran gets nuclear weapons? Well, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president, has himself, uh, announced that it’s his desire to wipe the State of Israel off the face of earth. Uh, he has held conferences in Iran with names like “The World Without the United States and Israel.” So, he’s made his intentions pretty clear. Uh, but even if Iran doesn’t use nuclear weapons against Israel, simple having nuclear weapons will exert a profound change on the balance of power, uh, in the Middle East. Uh, and if you don’t like the price of gasoline at what it is today, imagine Iran with hegemonic control, not only over its own oil and natural gas supplies, but exerting effective control over the supplies just across the Persian Gulf, in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. That kind of power, uh, in the hands of this theocratic dictatorship in Iran could have a profoundly disturbing consequence for the American economy and the economy of Western Europe and, and the world as a whole. Moreover, if Iran gets nuclear weapons, and I think it’s very close to that point, uh, I don’t think we can count on being able to contain and deter Iran as we did the Soviet Union during the cold war. I think the calculus of the Mullahs, the Ayatollahs in Iran, is very different. Say what you want about the Communists, they were atheists, and they thought they only went around once in life. They weren’t about to throw that away too quickly. But if you believe, uh, as the Ayatollahs do, that life in the hereafter is a lot better than life on Earth, it’s pretty hard to deter somebody, uh, with that kind of approach. I like to think the American view, uh, is summed up in the, uh, Kenny Chesney song, uh, “Everybody want to go to Heaven, nobody want to go now.” That’s how deterrence works for us. It doesn’t work that way with the Iranians. But, even if I’m wrong on that, and Iran could be contained and deterred, it doesn’t stop with, uh, their achieving nuclear weapons status.

Other countries in the region will respond. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and perhaps others will get nuclear weapons. So, in a very short period of time, five to ten years, you could have a multi-polar nuclear Middle East which almost guarantees, uh, because of the instability that’s the consequence of that, uh, display of nuclear weapons, uh, almost guarantees that somebody will decide to strike one of their neighbors before their neighbors decide to strike them. And that level of uncertainty and risk, uh, will no doubt have profound consequences, uh, for the global price of oil and other natural resources.

Moreover, the lesson that others will draw when they see that the United States is not able to stop North Korea’s nuclear program, when they see that Iran, despite U.S. sanctions, despite four, uh, sanction resolutions in the U.N. Security Council, despite sanctions by the European Union and Japan, still Iran is able to achieve nuclear weapons status.  That will prove to every other would be proliferator, uh, that if they’re simply determined enough they too can obtain nuclear weapons.  Uh, and that will inspire the terrorists groups, too, Al Qaeda and Taliban and others. So that the risk that we see here is a world that, despite the end of the cold war, doesn’t become more stable and more peaceful, uh, it becomes at greater risk because the threat of a terrorist with a nuclear weapon or a biological or a chemical weapon is far worse, even than the threat from terrorists, uh, who brought the attacks of nine eleven….


Question: …Tonight during your discussion you were talking about Iran’s developing nuclear program. I was wondering what the U.N. or the U.S. would do, um, to intervene when the, um, the, Iran’s, um, threatening Israel, um, Israel’s sovereignty? And do you think it would make a difference if Mousavi got elected in the past Iranian, um, election because most of the power lies within the theocracy and, aya, Ayatollah Khamani?

[….] [John] Bolton [(r)]: Well, I, I don’t, I don’t  think the election fundamentally would have changed very much. But I think that the fraud that was, uh, so visible in last year’s election, uh, actually helped demonstrate to a lot of Iranians just how, uh, illegitimate, uh, the Islamic Revolution nineteen seventy-nine has become. I think it’s a very unpopular government in many respects. And I wish the United States, both during the Bush administration and the Obama administration, had done more to supply the opposition with support so that when that fraudulent election had occurred, if we had really given them the resources we might have had an opportunity to see the regime overthrown. Uh, that didn’t happen, we didn’t give them adequate support, either in two thousand nine or in the years preceding that. Uh, and so that opportunity has slipped away and I think it will be quite some time before it comes back. The fact is that, uh, because we have engaged in, uh, now nearly eight years of diplomacy with Iran they have used that time to overcome essentially all of the complex scientific and technological obstacles that stand in the way of a nuclear weapons program. They’re very close to having a weapons capability, it’s really a matter for them when they decide they’re gonna do it. Uh, the diplomacy has failed, the sanctions have failed, uh, so I think today, uh, there are really only, uh, two options facing us with respect to Iran’s nuclear weapons. One is, and this is the most likely option, that indeed they do get nuclear weapons and we’ve got to deal with the consequences of a nuclear Iran. The only thing that will stop that is the second option, which is that some outside power uses preemptive force to strike against the nuclear weapons program, uh, and destroy as much of it as, uh, might be possible, thus setting Iran back, two, three, four, maybe more years. That that is in itself not a complete solution to the problem, but two to four years in, in this business is nearly infinity. I think there’s no chance that the Obama administration will use force. I once thought there was a chance that President Bush would use force. That obviously didn’t happen. I’m not even holding my breath on this administration. Which means that the choice, it’s a very [applause], it’s a very, it’s a very unpleasant choice for Israel, is between seeing Iran get nuclear weapons and taking preemptive action. Uh, military force here is a very unattractive, uh, outcome. It’s very risky, uh, there could be enormous, uh, potential consequences, uh, but in Israel’s case, uh, nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran, uh, could bring, uh, a second Holocaust, this time a, a nuclear holocaust. And, uh, I don’t think that’s something that they want to wait and find out about. When Israel has faced, uh, a potential nuclear threat in the past it has not hesitated to act, uh, preemptively. It destroyed, uh, Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor outside of Baghdad in nineteen eighty-one, as I mentioned a few moments ago it destroyed the North Korean reactor in Syria, uh, in September two thousand seven. Uh, so given, given the alternative of a nuclear Iran I think the military option is very much on the table for the Israelis. I don’t know what they’re gonna do but I don’t think they have much time. Both because, uh, that Iran is increasingly close to actually having a nuclear weapons capability and because, uh, at, at some point the Russians may yet deliver the, uh, what we call the S three hundred air defense system, a very sophisticated air defense system that Israel couldn’t penetrate, uh, which would effectively eliminate the Israeli  military option. So, I think we’re very close to a decision by Israel and, uh, and the consequences that will, that will, that will flow from that….

There were those who truly believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction hidden in the desert sand.

….Third possibility is that he buried it in the desert somewhere. Now, hard as that is to believe, you ought to go on, uh, the Internet and find the pictures that American troops took of big fighter planes wrapped in burlap buried in the desert sands being uncovered by American bulldozers. It’s like scenes out of Planet of the Apes with wings and tail fins of Migs peering out of the desert sand. Anybody who’s crazy enough to bury Mig fighters in the desert is probably crazy enough to bury chemical weapons….

If you liked the people hanging around dubya you’re just gonna love the Donald’s posse.


Ambassador John Bolton at Missouri Boys State: remarks (June 16, 2010)

Ambassador John Bolton at Missouri Boys State: Q and A, part 2 (June 20, 2010)

Ambassador John Bolton at Missouri Boys State: Q and A, part 3 (June 20, 2010)