For sec­re­tary of state: John Bolton

An ex­pe­ri­enced diplo­mat knows the pros and cons of ne­go­ti­a­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Cal Thomas Cal Thomas is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated columnist. His lat­est book is “What Works: Com­mon Sense So­lu­tions for a Stronger Amer­ica” (Zon­der­van, 2014).

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is re­port­edly con­sid­er­ing se­ri­ously at least two men for the crit­i­cal po­si­tion of sec­re­tary of state. One, for­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Mitt Rom­ney, has di­vided the Trump team be­tween those who think it is a good idea and those who think Mr. Rom­ney’s se­vere crit­i­cism of Mr. Trump dur­ing the cam­paign dis­qual­i­fies him.

The other is re­tired gen­eral and for­mer CIA Direc­tor David Pe­traeus. A ma­jor prob­lem for Mr. Pe­traeus is his mis­han­dling of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments, which he re­port­edly leaked to his bi­og­ra­pher-mis­tress, Paula Broad­well. Af­ter Mr. Trump ham­mered Hil­lary Clin­ton for her “ex­tremely care­less” han­dling of clas­si­fied ma­te­rial when she was sec­re­tary of state, it would be hyp­o­crit­i­cal of Mr. Trump to name Mr. Pe­traeus.

Though also in the run­ning, for­mer New York Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani is thought to be run­ning a dis­tant third, if the num­ber of vis­its in and out of Trump Tower are any in­di­ca­tion.

So, of the top two con­tenders, who? How about some­one with ex­pe­ri­ence as a diplo­mat, in­clud­ing within the State Depart­ment and as a for­mer U.N. am­bas­sador?

John Bolton, now a se­nior fel­low at the Amer­i­can En­ter­prise In­sti­tute and a reg­u­lar com­men­ta­tor on cable news, does not en­gage in wish­ful think­ing, or project Amer­i­can morals on those who don’t share them in the vain hope they might be con­ta­gious. Here is Mr. Bolton, re­port­edly sched­uled to meet with Mr. Trump Friday, on the threat of rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism: “When you have a regime that would be hap­pier in the af­ter­life than in this life, this is not a regime that is sub­ject to clas­sic the­o­ries of de­ter­rence.”

In his book “Sur­ren­der­ing is Not an Op­tion: De­fend­ing Amer­ica at the United Na­tions,” Mr. Bolton is un­re­lent­ing in his crit­i­cism of the tooth­less United Na­tions and of many U.S. poli­cies that have not pro­duced re­sults in Amer­ica’s best in­ter­ests — pre­cisely the at­ti­tude of Pres­i­dent-elect Trump, who wants to look out for Amer­ica and its in­ter­ests first. In this pur­suit he is not un­like one of his pre­de­ces­sors, Am­bas­sador Jeane Kirk­patrick, who said, “What takes place in the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil more closely re­sem­bles a mug­ging than ei­ther a po­lit­i­cal de­bate or an ef­fort at prob­lem-solv­ing.” It is a mug­ging, and too of­ten it is the United States and Is­rael that get mugged.

Here’s an­other Bolton quote: “Ne­go­ti­a­tion is not a pol­icy. It’s a tech­nique. It’s some­thing you use when it’s to your ad­van­tage, and some­thing that you don’t use when it’s not to your ad­van­tage.” That is the op­po­site of wish­ful think­ing.

In a July 2015 col­umn for the Dal­las Morn­ing News, Mr. Bolton wrote that it is a fic­tion to be­lieve Iran won’t vi­o­late terms of the nu­clear weapons deal it made with the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. He ar­gues that “snap­back” sanc­tions won’t work be­cause sanc­tions failed be­fore. He thinks the only op­tion for keep­ing nu­clear weapons out of the hands of the ay­a­tol­lahs is Is­rael.

“How­ever, Iran may well re­tal­i­ate,” Mr. Bolton ac­knowl­edges. “At that point, Wash­ing­ton must be ready to im­me­di­ately re­sup­ply Is­rael for losses in­curred by its armed forces in the ini­tial at­tack, so that Is­rael will still be able to ef­fec­tively counter Tehran’s prox­ies, Ha­mas and Hezbol­lah, which will be its ve­hi­cles for re­tal­i­a­tion. The United States must also pro­vide mus­cu­lar po­lit­i­cal sup­port, ex­plain­ing that Is­rael le­git­i­mately ex­er­cised its in­her­ent right of self-de­fense. What­ever Obama’s view, pub­lic and con­gres­sional sup­port for Is­rael will be over­whelm­ing.”

Who is to blame for this sit­u­a­tion? Mr. Bolton writes: “Amer­i­can weak­ness has brought us to this dif­fi­cult mo­ment. While we ob­sessed about its eco­nomic dis­com­fort, Iran wore its duress with pride. It was never an even match. We now have to rely on a tiny ally to do the job for us. But un­less we are ready to ac­cept a nu­clear Iran (and, in rel­a­tively short or­der, sev­eral other nu­clear Mid­dle East­ern states), get ready. The easy ways out dis­ap­peared long ago.”

This is sober re­al­ity and pre­cisely the world­view that is needed at the Depart­ment of State.

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