Ginni Thomas

Leaders with Ginni Thomas: John Bolton

Ginni Thomas Contributor
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John Bolton, former UN ambassador

John Bolton believes too many of today’s foreign policy “experts” place a premium on global citizenship. He knows what he’s talking about: John served the United States as permanent representative to the United Nations under President Bush and is currently a senior fellow of foreign policy and national security at the American Enterprise Institute.

The “global citizenship” crowd, he says, acts as if an enlightened understanding of the world is incompatible with patriotism and American exceptionalism. They believe American strength is an inhibition to solving problems. John disagrees.

When you embrace the “global problems require a global solution” canard, it’s easy to be pessimistic about America’s ability to lead and optimistic about multinational organizations’ suitability to manage an increasing number of domestic problems. Ambassador Bolton has devoted much of his career to combating this viewpoint with his deep understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the liberties it protects.

In his conversation with TheDC’s Ginni Thomas, Bolton warns against ceding U.S. sovereignty to unaccountable international organizations. He critiques the foreign policies of both President Bush and President Obama. And he even hints at why he’s toying with running for President.

When might we hear if you will run for president?

“I really think that the American people are ready for an adult conversation about international affairs, about the budget situation that we face, the chronic threat to our economy and the president’s failed policies.”


What would be the biggest differences between President Bolton and President Obama?

“I think President Obama has made it very clear he is interested in a declining American role in the world. He’s very comfortable with that … He’s above all that patriotism stuff. That’s not what motivates him.”


How would you critique the foreign policies of President Bush and President Obama?

“Our foreign policy has to be keyed to American interests, to defending the core values that we fought the American Revolution for and that’s one of the reasons the Constitution itself says, in the Preamble, that the Constitution was created to provide for the common defense of all of the other values that we’re pursuing here in the United States.”


On America’s allies and adversaries

“It’s a great myth internationally that American strength is provocative. It’s not American strength. American weakness is provocative and we look very weak today.”


On the importance of our national sovereignty and what, specifically, is eroding it

“You need to be interested in foreign affairs because to protect those constitutional freedoms that we value, you need to be aware of the many different efforts to take the real decision-making authority out of hands and put it somewhere else.”


In our current fiscal crisis, where might we pare back federal spending in the foreign affairs arena?

“I believe, for example, the International Monetary Fund could be dispensed with … You could take the World Bank and the large regional development banks and privatize them and end the American contributions to them.”


What is America’s legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan?

“in Afghanistan we’re very much at risk of not accomplishing the key strategic objective of preventing the Taliban and al Queda from once again using Afghanistan as a base for international terrorism and risking instability in Pakistan that could have its very substantial arsenal of nuclear weapons fall into radical hands.”


On President Obama’s Libyan policy and the latest UN doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect”

“Obama’s multilateral instincts, in effect, his desire to turn the American military over to multilateral objectives … have very little if anything to do with concrete American interests.”


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