Former UN Ambassador John Bolton suggests foreign policy problems loom for US

Bolton said the U.S. is losing of credibility on the world stage during a College Republicans-sponsored event.

Ambassador John Bolton said he thinks the U.S. could not be headed in a worse direction when it comes to foreign policy.

“It’s the president that thinks we’re the problem,” he said.  “It’s like looking through the wrong end of the telescope.”

Bolton, who served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006, gave a lecture titled “Moving Forward: The Future of American Foreign Policy” on Tuesday in Hendricks Chapel. The Syracuse University College Republicans sponsored Bolton, who has also served as the under secretary of state for arms control and international security under President George W. Bush.  Bolton has worked in other capacities and advised several Republican politicians and administrations during his career.

Bolton said the U.S. is losing credibility on the world stage, and he placed much of that blame on President Barack Obama.  He said Obama’s detached leadership style has led to problems in Ukraine, China and the Middle East.

Bolton explained Ukraine is a critical testing ground where Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to test Obama’s leadership strength.

“He has become a desk officer,” Bolton said in reference to Obama.

Bolton cited a 2008 proposition where President Bush advocated that Georgia and Ukraine be given a clear path to NATO membership. Bush’s plan was ultimately voted down and Russia invaded Georgia within a few months. Bolton said that same year, then Sen. Obama said both sides should use restraint.  Bolton said Obama’s lecturing Putin for being on the wrong side of history and pointing out that Putin is breaking international law by invading Ukraine is useless, and makes Obama look weak as president. 

Bolton said that because of statements made by Obama, Putin feels there is a low-risk in taking over helpless European countries that were once part of the Soviet Union.  He said Putin does not plan to stop anytime soon.

“Putin can read the calendar,” Bolton said.  He added that Putin has an interest in stopping former Soviet states from westernizing, and realizes Obama will not be in office much longer.

Bolton said he is also concerned about China. “No one is watching this situation more closely,” he said, and cited China’s advancing military technology as well as its territorial expansion into the South China Sea, a major sea route in Asia.  He said it is yet another example of unchecked powers as a result of weak leadership from the Obama administration.

Bolton took personal exception to the administration’s handling of the Benghazi scandal in Libya.  “An ambassador is the personal representative of the president,” Bolton said.  There has only been one arrest in connection with the September 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate, he said. The poor investigation and prosecution of the individuals involved have sent a message to foreign nations, he said, adding that ambassadors can be murdered with no cost or consequences.

Vice Chair of the SU College Republicans Brittany Beyer said she thought the topic of Bolton’s speech is both timely and important.  “As young adults, we’re going to be inheriting these issues very shortly, so I think it’s very crucial that we understand exactly what’s happening.”

Adam Benavides, political science junior, said he agrees that it is important to pay attention to foreign policy.

 “It’s pretty easy to just stay focused on what’s going on in your community,” he said. “You can lose focus on what’s really going on in the world.”

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