14 May John Bolton’s Extraordinary Speech
Last night I had the honor of introducing Ambassador John Bolton as the keynote speaker at the 49th annual dinner of the Lincoln Club of Orange County. He is one of the most extraordinary thinkers in our country when it comes to foreign policy (for many newcomers to concerns about politics, ethics, and society, “foreign policy” deals with considerations usually considered much less important than medical ethics and marriage and health care – trivial things like Islamic terrorists with nuclear weapons, countries that plot to wipe other countries off the map, and policies and approaches for dealing with countries that are led by insane people that have hundreds of thousands of men in their military). We do not talk about foreign policy in our country very much, especially when our President is so busy taking over the national health care system and trying to put 2,000 pages of rules against debit card fees into place. But there are some people who believe that a nation who can not get foreign policy right can not get anything right, and furthermore, will not need to worry about the rest for very long. Countries that do not take foreign policy seriously will perpetually struggle with existential issues. John Bolton is one of those remarkable men who is constantly trying to remind us of this.
He did not disappoint last night. He cogently and soberly made the case for protecting American interests in how we next deal with both Afghanistan and Pakistan. He repudiated the multilateralism of President Obama, pointing out that it was unilateralism that killed Osama bin Laden; it was multilateralism that has us stuck in this stalemate in Libya. Speaking of Libya, he pointed out the sheer perplexity of what they have managed to do: In the name of replacing one bad government, they have somehow replaced it, with two bad governments. He briefly hit on major issues around the globe of major consequence to Americans: the drug cartels in Mexico, Chavez’s mischief in Venezuela, ongoing issues in China, eventual nuclear armament of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and others in the mideast region – all in response to Iran’s successful obtaining of the same. He lambasted the Obama administration for their incoherent handling of the Egypt mess, the result of which will very likely be a reversal of the 30-year success of the Camp David arrangements for our allies in Israel. He graciously concurred when it came to the take-out of Osama bin Laden that President Obama made a “good call”, (then reminded us of the obvious – the “good call” was supported by 110% of the population). I deeply appreciated his reiteration of the crucial role waterboarding has played in protecting American lives, and his agreement with the President that torture is out of bounds for Americans (the issue, of course, is whether or not one believes water-boarding is torture; so far we have learned that the President believes that splashing someone’s forehead with water at absolutely no physical damage to them whatsoever IS torture, but blowing their brains out of their heads with a pistol IS NOT).
The major point of his speech was that this President shows very little interest in foreign policy (a point Victor Davis Hanson and others have made for some time), that when he does his default punt is to some form of multilateralist posture, and that the President’s major focus is on re-structuring the American way of life to a more European progressive format. He expressed very little confusion as to where President Obama came up with this ideology: “While at Columbia and Harvard, of course” (a point Marvin Olasky has made to me a couple of times).
I admire this man on so many levels, and pray he has a future in American foreign policy. I have grown very pessimistic in evaluating the GOP field that we will have a shot at the White House before 2016, but whether it be 2012 or 2016, I pray that our next President utilize the depth, experience, and wisdom of this man. I encouraged him in private conversation to run himself, recognizing that he would not be a likely success, but at least with the objective of forcing the other candidates throughout the primary to interact with foreign policy. We shall see. I close this piece with a transcript of my introduction of the Ambassador, one that I stand behind word for word.
When I first suggested to our club’s executive committee my idea that we ask Ambassador John Bolton to speak at tonight’s annual dinner, there was a small but brewing discussion that he may run for President, and perhaps wouldn’t be available for tonight’s event. And perhaps that issue is not resolved, and he may have something to say tonight about it, but as I considered that possibility several months ago, one thought continued to go through my mind?
Would we even deserve a man like this as our President anyways?
His pedigree is impressive enough, and I am happy to share that he is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Commentator, and a respected attorney and policymaker who has served for three U.S. Presidents. In recent years, he gained both fame and notoriety for serving as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, a position he served with prestige and honor.
But why would I suggest that perhaps the United States does not deserve a President like Ambassador John Bolton?
Well of course, I say it somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as I for one believe the greatness of America does deserve the greatness of tonight’s speaker, both in terms of policy, and personal character. But this is what I mean. Does a country whose Senate refused to confirm a man of this service and stature really deserve him as their leader? (and I do NOT merely mean Democrats in the Senate, but include such Republican frauds and impostors as Chuck Hagel and George Voinovich in that reprehensible but successful effort). Does a country who would elect the current President Obama, a man of absolutely no particular accomplishments or track record or policy achievements whatsoever, really deserve John Bolton as its leader? Would a country whose Congressional leadership has tolerated such insanely naïve and inept handling of crucial foreign policy issues in North Korea, Iran, Egypt, and Libya (to name a few), really even know what to do with a man like this as our President???
Tonight’s speaker did serve the United States as Ambassador to the United Nations despite the Senate’s shameful failure to confirm him thanks to the politically brave and ideologically necessary willingness of President Bush to appoint him on recess. And here is what the Wall Street Journal had to say about his period of service:
“Bolton has been valiant in his efforts to clean up UN corruption and malfeasance, and follow UN procedure in dealing with such threats as a nuclear North Korea, a Hezbollah bid to take over Lebanon, and the nuclearization of Hezbollah’s terror-masters in Iran. But it has been like watching one man trying to move a tsunami of mud.”
Watching our current President has been like watching one man put our own country into a tsunami of mud, if you ask me. But the reason I know without any doubt in my mind that America’s best days are ahead of her, not behind her, is because there are still fearless leaders like John Bolton out in the fight, seeking to defend America and all she stands for. This, I am certain, will be the case no matter what the Ambassador is doing for a living in a couple year’s times.
To close my introduction of tonight’s speaker, I present to you the description given to him by Iran’s foreign ministry: “a rude and undiplomatic man”. Friends, I am so proud tonight to have a speaker at the 49th annual Lincoln Club dinner, who terrorists and thugs and villains would call “rude and undiplomatic”. Welcome to the stage, the honorable John Bolton.