Spectator's Journal

Bolton From the Blue

Amb. John Bolton has plenty to say about a Middle East policy in disarray.

By 10.15.12

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MIAMI -- The Jewish outreach of the Romney campaign leaves a great deal to be desired, about which more on another day. One good thing this wing of the overall effort has been doing is involving Ambassador John Bolton in presenting to Jewish groups. His powerful pro-Israel record and reputation make his name a good draw in the circles of the more knowledgeable Jewish voters. It does not hurt that he has astonishing breadth of knowledge, pristine clarity of thought, and crystalline clarity of expression.

Sunday night he appeared here in Miami at a synagogue bordering the two communities of Surfside and Bal Harbor. The biggest concentrations of Jews in the Miami area are not near that spot, but its equidistance from Miami Beach and North Miami Beach situate it perfectly for such events.

The room was packed to the rafters, and there were no hecklers or provocateurs. The crowd listened raptly and applauded lustily. It is difficult to extrapolate from this to voting patterns on Election Day, but this much was clear: there is a strong Romney-Ryan contingent among both the religious and secular Jews of Florida. There was a strong vibe in the air of real voters, people who follow news and politics closely.

Rather than summarizing his many trenchant points, I will try to paraphrase several excerpts which are well worth reviewing. (This is my best effort at reporting by heart, trying to be true to his phrasing, but this is something short of verbatim.)

• "The attack on Benghazi Sept. 11 was known to be a terrorist attack within one day. Intelligence officials who briefed members of Congress on Sept. 12 told them so clearly. In last week's Congressional hearings, State Department officials testified truthfully they were in cell phone contact with the diplomatic staff throughout the entire episode.

"Yet they went around for days blaming the attacks on some silly trailer for a video, and Hillary Clinton has been sticking to that line up until very recently. What Biden said during the debate that the intelligence community had not known the facts right away was blatantly false.

"There can only be two possible explanations. One, that there is a cover-up in play, designed to preserve the narrative that the Arab Spring is benign and we have eliminated the hostile elements. Two, that the ideology forms a screen over the realty and these ideologues simply cannot process anything out of line with their worldview.

"For the sake of the country I almost hope that the former is indeed the case. I would feel safer knowing that they know and understand the truth but choose to cover it up for their political purposes. If they really cannot assimilate reality, then we are in a lot of trouble."

• "In past years, Israel always wanted to conduct face-to-face negotiations, convinced this was the only path to peace. In the case of Egypt and Jordan, they had the opportunity to negotiate in this manner and sure enough it worked. They were able to sign real treaties that have held up for years.

"When they finally got face-to-face negotiations with the Palestinians, progress was being made in a slow fashion. Little by little, item by item, the sides were inching forward. The United States understood its role as a facilitator but it hung back and did not get into the middle.

"The Obama administration believed it could improve the process by involving us directly. Suddenly the United States began offering proposals of its own and demanding specific concessions from Israel.

"The result was that the process was retarded rather than enhanced. Once we established a particular proposal, that became the baseline for Palestinian demands. No way could they come back to their people to report that they have gotten less than the United States asked for them to get."

• "The Obama administration policy with regard to Iran is doomed from its inception. We say we will not tolerate their having a bomb. They want to have a bomb and are moving full speed ahead. How do you talk your way out of those differences? What is the middle ground we can reach through talks… they get a small bomb?"

• "I was in the State Department during the previous administration when they talked about announcing the War on Terror. I was against that language from Day One. If we are fighting to stop all terrorism, will we go after the Catholics in Northern Ireland? Are we going to attack the Basques in Spain?

"Obviously we are limiting the focus of our battle to radical Islamicist terrorism. If that is the enemy, we should not be afraid to call it by its name. It is hard to see how you can win a war if you insist on protecting your opponent by not identifying him openly." 

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About the Author

Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator.