US President Barack Obama is “the most anti-Israel president in the history of
the state, without any question,” John Bolton, the former US envoy to the UN and
a man considering entering the presidential race against Obama, told The
Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
“If you think that this is just a
misunderstanding of where the green crayon went in 1949, then think again,”
Bolton said of Obama. Bolton’s comments came during a meeting he had with the
Post’s editorial board.
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Bolton, who is currently a fellow at the American
Enterprise Institute and a Fox News commentator, said that Obama bought in to
what he said was the “European line” that if you make progress between Israel
and the Palestinians “sweetness and light” will break out in the region, and every
other problem from Iran to terrorism will be easier to solve.
that is like looking through the wrong end of the telescope,” he
Bolton, in the country along with former Spanish prime minister
Jose Maria Aznar and Nobel Peace Prize laureate David Trimble from Northern
Ireland as part of a delegation of international dignitaries involved in an
organization called Friends of Israel Initiative, said he was considering
running for the Republican nomination, and would made a decision by Labor
“The problem is that we haven’t had an adequate discussion of
national security issues for two and a half years,” he said, explaining why he
was thinking about entering the race.
“It is not a priority for Obama,
and I think that is a big mistake for the United States.”
Bolton said he
conducted extensive “due diligence” about a possible race for the Republican
nomination, including talking to fundraisers, pollsters, and campaign people in
different states, including Iowa, where he has visited in advance of the Iowa
caucuses, the first test in the US election calendar.
Some of Bolton’s
harshest criticism of Obama had to do with the administration’s Iran policy,
with Bolton saying he believed the Obama administration’s “real Plan B for the
Iranian nuclear weapons program is that it can be contained and deterred, much as
we contained and deterred the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
“I think that
is fundamentally wrong,” Bolton said, adding that the only way to stop Iran from
getting nuclear weapons was through military action.
sanctions are not going to work,” he said unequivocally.
administration certainly isn’t going to use force against the Iranian program,
and Israel is obviously very reluctant to do it as well,” he said.
Israel is not prepared to strike, then get ready for an Iran with nuclear
weapons, and you can draw your own conclusions. If you think Iran’s behavior is
bad now, imagine what it will be if it gets nuclear capability. I think we are
all sleepwalking past this.”
Bolton said the US would have an easier time
destroying Iran’s control of its nuclear fuel cycle than Israel would, but that
Israel has the capability to do this, and has had it for some time.
had been in charge of the Israeli government, I would have attacked in 2008 for several reasons,” he said.
“First, it was three years ago, so you are
much more likely to have eliminated the key elements of Iran’s nuclear weapons
Secondly, he said, “in 2008 you had a president sympathetic to
Israel – so you calculate the next time that is going to occur.”
had equally strong words to say about the Palestinian bid for some type of
statehood recognition at the UN in September, something he said should not – as
it is in Israel and elsewhere – be getting more attention and energy than the
Iranian nuclear threat.
Israel’s proper response to the move, he said, is
“not to pay any attention to it, and to care no more about it than the grass you
tread beneath your feet.”
Without referring directly to Defense Minister
Ehud Barak’s oft-quoted comment that Israel faced a “diplomatic tsunami” in
September, Bolton – who served as US envoy to the UN from 2005-2006 – said “if
you make the General Assembly into something more than what it is, than you are
giving it authority and legitimacy it doesn’t have.”
His comments were
made against the backdrop of what is almost certain to be a US veto in the
Security Council, the body whose approval is necessary for a state to become a
UN member. In that case, the Palestinians are likely to take their bid to the
General Assembly, which has no binding authority.
however, that the move did have political significance, similar to the “Zionism
Equals Racism” declaration of the mid-1970s.
Leaning on past experience
when he was head of the international organizations department in the State
Department from 1989-1993, Bolton said that the only way to get this move
stopped in the UN was for the US Congress to pass legislation saying that if the
move did go through, Washington would cut off funding to the international
He said that a threat by former secretary of state and chief of
staff James Baker, backed up by the first president George Bush, to cut off
funds to the UN if the PLO was accepted into the UN system as a full member is
what kept the PLO from gaining acceptance as a state in 1989.The full
interview with Bolton will appear in Friday’s