This morning, The American Spectator hosted John Bolton as part of our Newsmaker Breakfast series and we talked about a wide-range of foreign policy issues.
Bolton, who just wrote the book Surrender is Not an Option (my review here), spoke about the drift in the Bush Administration from its tough policy on WMD proliferation early on, to its more recent capitulation, especially since 2006. On North Korea, he said we had returned to the same Agreed Framework-type policy that we had during the Clinton Administration and that the North Koreans violated. The focus has been more on disabling than dismantling the nuclear program, which he describes as being like “taking the keys out of your car and putting them on your nightstand.” With regard to Iran, Bolton said the U.S. has deferred to the EU, which has offered Iran all of the carrots they have to offer to no avail. He described the possibility of attacking Iranian nuclear facilities as a “last resort” that was “highly risky” and undesirable. One of the risks of military action would be that we would destroy all of the known facilities, while they still maintain facilities we don’t know about. Thus, we’d incur all of the political and other fallout, while still leaving their nuclear program intact. He said, however, that the only thing worse than taking military action would be letting Iran acquire nuclear weapons. And giving the diplomatic obstacles, he said, “the sad fact is, we might be close to the last resort.”
Speaking about the situation in Pakistan, Bolton said that it’s unfortunately one of those countries in which two of America’s interests — democracy promotion and WMD non-proliferation — come into conflict. The primary concern for the U.S. in Pakistan, he said, should be ensuring that its nuclear weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands, so, “unhappily, in the near term, we have to rely on Musharraf.” He also noted that Benazir Bhutto, the leader of the opposition, has been named “chairman for life” of the Pakistan People’s Party. “Pakistan is a complicated place,” Bolton said.
We hope to have some video up soon.
UPDATE: Dave Weigel has more.