Ambassador John Bolton, who is also a contender for the Republican 2016 presidential nomination, stopped in for “Pints and Politics” with Chris Ryan at The Barley House in Concord. The extended interview delved initially into U.S. foreign policy, then domestic policy. Chris started off by asking the ambassador to weigh in on Rudy Giuliani’s questioning whether President Obama loves America. Bolton preferred to discuss when Barack Obama was asked about “American Exceptionalism” in an interview early in his presidency. Obama said that he did just like the British and Greeks believed in British or Greek exceptionalism. Bolton contends that this is the flaw in the president’s thinking because if he believes that everyone is exceptional then in fact no one is exceptional, including the United States.
When John Bolton was asked how the Republicans can expand their base, he believes that voters are looking for a president with these 4 qualities–leadership, strength, resolve, and vision. The foreign policy part of the interview mainly dealt with the growth of ISIS and other terrorist threats. Bolton believes that our policy needs to be a Pro-American, interest based policy. In his assessment of the terrorist threat, the ambassador broke it down into 2 types of problems. First, actions that ISIS and the others can do now. These immediate threats are attacks similar to those committed in Paris, Copenhagen, and Boston or the taking and executing of hostages. As more people are trained by these groups, there could be an increase in this type of attack in the next 5 years. The second threat level is more dangerous. If these groups get their hands on nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, they pose a much graver threat to the United States. Because ISIS threatens the countries of the Middle East region, they can greatly affect the global economy by attacks on oil production or pipelines. Chris brought up the possibility of cyber attacks. Bolton maintains that ISIS does not pose a serious military threat to the United States. However, they have shown that they have sophisticated computer technology and could threaten our infrastructure. He dismissed the Obama administration’s claim that these groups are driven by economic deprivation. Bolton maintains that the terrorists are motivated by an ideology based on hatred of us and our values.
John Bolton served as Undersecretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration. Chris asked if our intervention in the overthrowing of Libya’s dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, has contributed to the growth of terrorist groups. The ambassador stated that the problems were not caused was by removing Gaddafi, which he feels was the correct thing to do. The problems were the result of the absence of a plan after he was deposed. He also supported removing Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Bolton believed that we should have quickly given government control to the Iraqis because you can’t do nation building. Nations have to do that on their own. He also believes that our hasty withdrawal from Iraq was a mistake.
Next, John Bolton gave his views on a number of domestic policy issues. Chis asked how the GOP should address income disparity. Bolton feels that the best way to grow the middle class is to find ways to grow the economy. Bolton believes that we have had a slow recovery because our economy has been overburdened by various forms of government regulations–Dodd-Frank, Obamacare, and “unlimited” environmental regulations. Bolton also called for the repeal of a number of government entitlement programs like the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare, Medicare, and Medicaid. He described the problem this way. The government has created a very complicated system based on complex cross-subsidies. You pay taxes and you get some benefits. But, you never know if you are ahead or not. This uncertainty perpetuates the system. Bolton maintains that the whole entitlement system, including Social Security, has to be under control or else we will not be able to plan or to budget intelligently. Bolton was asked if a pro-Common Core candidate (Jeb Bush) can win the nomination. The ambassador answered by calling for the elimination of the Department of Education. He believes in state and local control because that would limit the influence of special interest groups like the teachers unions. That was followed by a question about cleaning up Washington by eliminating the overlap and duplication of many federal programs and agencies. Bolton cited that, unlike many of his competitors for the nomination, he has the advantage of working in a variety of government agencies and is aware of how government bureaucrats maneuver to keep their jobs or their funding.
The final question is one you may have heard before, “Would your administration be more like Teddy Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan?” John Bolton stated that Ronald Reagan is the model for contemporary American presidents.