According to Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations (2005-2006), and the author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad.”, during his White House tenure, Obama preferred concentrate on what he said in 2008 was his main objective, to “fundamentally transform” America. Bolton writes, “International crises constantly threatened to divert time and energy away from that ideological quest.”
Calling Obama’s worldview badly misguided, Bolton alleges that, “In Obama’s opinion, and that of all of his top advisors, most definitely including Hillary Clinton, America’s global presence, its strength and assertiveness and its manifest success in protecting its allies and its interests actually contribute to tension, instability and outright conflict.” He adds, “Under this worldview, American efforts at self-defense and mutual security are part of the problem, not the solution.”
The spread of what Bolton calls “global chaos” is most apparent in the Middle East, he says, and it is here that President-elect Donald Trump will face his first international challenges.
Edward Grey, British Foreign Minister, on August 1914, observed that “the lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.” Bolton wonders if, “We are not far wrong to ask whether Grey’s insight applies today in the Middle East: Radical Islam has spread across the region, shattering governments and leaving anarchy where terrorist groups, warlords and brigands are taking root.”
Boundaries set up after World War I are disappearing, and ISIS has declared a caliphate in what used to be Syria and Iraq.The Kurds are moving inexorably toward de jure declaration of a “Kurdistan” of uncertain reach, says Bolton. He continues, “Turkey is turning away from its secular constitution toward President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s own concept of a caliphate. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan. Yemen has disintegrated.”
Most frightening to all, is that Iran is now on a path to be able to deliver nuclear weapons, which Bolton blames on being “legitimized by Obama’s wretched deal, which is providing untold economic benefits to Tehran through unfrozen assets and renewed trade and investment, especially from Europe. Iran’s support for terrorism continues unabated, and its provocative international behavior has only worsened since the nuclear deal. Russia’s influence in the region is higher than at any time since the 1970s.”
President-elect Trump has called destroying ISIS an urgent priority. Bolton warns, “In addition, however, a Trump anti-ISIS strategy must also correct Obama’s misguided reliance on the Baghdad government, which has become little more than an Iranian puppet.” He says, “…the defeat of any combatant inevitably advantages all the others. The goal should be to destroy ISIS while benefiting Iran to the least extent possible.”
Adding, “Indeed, the hardest question of all may be: What comes after ISIS is defeated?”
“Either a new state must be created out of the wreckage of Syria and Iraq, or some other durable approach must be found. Moreover, the new Russian airbase in Latakia, Syria, has dramatically changed the strategic environment in the eastern Mediterranean and beyond,” writes Bolton.
“Irael and America’s Arab friends are desperately waiting for a strong American president who understands who his friends are,” bolton writes, saying, “President-elect Trump can change the regional political dynamic quickly, signaling that US elections do truly have consequences.”
Bolton advises that President-elect Trump,”…abrogate the Iran nuclear deal in his first days in office. There will be considerable diplomacy required to explain this courageous but necessary decision, but the unambiguous signal it would send worldwide cannot be underestimated.”
Bolton concludes by saying, “Failing to engage in strategic thinking at the outset of any new Administration risks exacerbating the problems that will inevitably flow during its four or eight years in office. Doing the hard preparatory work now will pay off when the uncertain future becomes all too real.”