The Hague Aims for U.S. Soldiers

A ‘war crimes’ inquiry in Afghanistan shows the danger of the International Criminal Court

This article appeared in The Hill on November 21, 2017. Click here to view the original article.

By John Bolton
November 21, 2017

For the first time since it began operating in 2002, the International Criminal Court has put the U.S. in its sights. On Nov. 3, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda initiated an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan since mid-2003. This raises the alarming possibility that the court will seek to assert jurisdiction over American citizens.

Located in The Hague (alongside such dinosaurs as the International Court of Justice, which decides state-versus-state disputes), the ICC constitutes a direct assault on the concept of national sovereignty, especially that of constitutional, representative governments like the United States. The Trump administration should not respond to Ms. Bensouda in any way that acknowledges the ICC’s legitimacy. Even merely contesting its jurisdiction risks drawing the U.S. deeper into the quicksand.

The left will try to intimidate the White House by insisting that any resistance to the ICC aligns the U.S. with human-rights violators. But the administration’s real alignment should be with the U.S. Constitution, not the global elite. It would not be “pragmatic” to accept the ICC; it would be toxic to democratic sovereignty.

The U.S. is not party to the Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the ICC’s authority. Bill Clinton signed it in 2000, when he was a lame duck. But fearing certain rejection, he did not submit it to the Senate. The Bush administration formally “unsigned” in 2002 before the Rome Statute entered into force. That same year, Congress passed supportive legislation protecting U.S. servicemembers from the ICC, a law that was decried by hysterical opponents as the “Hague Invasion Act.” The U.S. then entered into more than 100 bilateral agreements committing other nations not to deliver Americans into the ICC’s custody.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice later weakened America’s opposition to the ICC. Barack Obama manifestly longed to join but nonetheless did not re-sign the Rome Statute. Thus the U.S. has never acknowledged the ICC’s jurisdiction, and it should not start now. America’s long-term security depends on refusing to recognize an iota of legitimacy in this brazen effort to subordinate democratic nations to the unaccountable melding of executive and judicial authority in the ICC.

Proponents of global governance have always wanted to turn the U.S. into just another pliant “member” of the United Nations General Assembly or the ICC. They know that America’s exceptionalism and commitment to its Constitution were among their biggest obstacles, but they hoped to cajole Washington into joining one day. The new Afghanistan investigation demonstrates why that vision needs to be confronted now and conclusively defeated.

The U.S. has done more than any other nation to instill in its civilian-controlled military a respect for human rights and the laws of war. When American servicemembers violate their doctrine and training—which can happen in any human institution—the U.S. is perfectly capable of applying our own laws to their conduct. These laws and procedures do not need to be second-guessed by international courts, especially ones that violate basic rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, like trial by jury.


New US airstrikes may hit Syria

Transcript Highlights:

“It’s a wedge into the Middle East and it enables them to do what they want to, which is prop up the regime, help the governments that they can count on to advance Russia’s interests. They are, in almost every respect, directly contrary to the interests of the United States.”

“I’m afraid that this is just the first phase of an ongoing conflict in the Middle East.”

“Iran is now using the campaign against the ISIS to build up a coalition involving the Baghdad government, controlled by Shia Iraqis, and really dominated by Tehran, and the Assad regime in Syria and the terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon to form an arc from Iran itself all the way to the Mediterranean in preparation for what could the next fight against Jordan and the oil-producing monarchies on the Arabian peninsula as well as threatening our close ally Israel.”

“We could now well see the next stage in a conventional, or even worse, in a battle that does involve nuclear or chemical weapons, for hegemony in the Middle East between Iran on one side, and the Arabs on the other.”

“Russia and the Assad regimes have been twins in this ever since the beginning and the notion that you can separate the two of them has always been wrong.”


America’s decision on North Korea hinges on Trump’s success in Asia

This article appeared in The Hill on November 15, 2017. Click here to view the original article.

By John Bolton
November 15, 2017

Substantively, President Trump’s Asia trip made important progress against North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. For now, however, in this long counter-proliferation struggle, it remains unclear whether China is finally persuaded to exert its unequalled ability to dictate events in the North, or whether it is still engaging in equivocation, misdirection, and subterfuge.

The president scored significant advances for his policies in Japan and South Korea, although Seoul’s resolve is still uncertain. In Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, fresh from a major election victory, underscored his agreement with Trump’s view that military force might be necessary to stop Pyongyang. Abe’s early political career skyrocketed because he advocated tough measures against Kim Jong Il, father of North Korea’s current dictator, for kidnapping Japanese civilians. Abe knows well the deep concerns among Japan’s vulnerable population about Pyongyang.

Trump had a more difficult task in South Korea where the electorate is deeply split. President Moon Jae Un adheres to a version of the “sunshine policy,” believing the North can be cajoled out of its belligerence, a theory yet to produce even the slightest alteration in Pyongyang’s persistent push for nuclear weapons. By contrast, Seoul’s opposition leader, after the North’s sixth nuclear test this September, called on Washington to return tactical nuclear weapons on the peninsula once again, a move even President Moon’s defense minister suggested be discussed. One poll, taken before the latest test, found that 68 percent of South Korea’s population favored redeploying tactical nuclear weapons.

Trump’s speech to South Korea’s National Assembly, the first by a U.S. president since 1993, was impressive. He made clear he would do what was necessary to protect America, saying, “Do not underestimate us and do not try us. We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. We will not be intimidated.” But Trump also reaffirmed the importance of the alliance between the United States and South Korea, thereby denying Kim Jong Un the opportunity, at least for now, to drive a wedge between the allies.

Unfortunately, it may be Beijing, not Pyongyang, that is opening daylight between the Moon and Trump administrations. Just days before Trump’s arrival, China and South Korea resolved an increasingly contentious dispute, China ended trade restrictions, and South Korea agreed not to deploy more THAAD missile defense systems, or join with Japan and America in trilateral missile defense cooperation or a defense alliance. Many South Koreans profoundly disagree with the deal, but Moon, who has long held such views, may hope it will constrain future Seoul governments.

Beijing was the main event of Trump’s trip, and here the results are unclear. It could not have escaped President Xi Jinping’s attention that Trump arrived after successful consultations in Seoul and Tokyo. Xi, having just consolidated his domestic political power at China’s 19th Communist Party Congress, was clearly positioned to handle the North Korea issue as he saw fit. Apart from Trump’s brief comments about Xi promising more help on sanctions, however, we do not know what else was agreed, if anything. It is possible there was progress, which neither party thought opportune to disclose publicly. It is just as possible there was no progress at all.

During China’s grinding war with Japan, and the contemporaneous Communist-Nationalist civil war, Zhou Enlai formulated a strategy known as “da da tan tan,” or “fight fight talk talk.” Xi might be following a variation of this strategy (perhaps coordinated with North Korea, perhaps not), using endless consultations to buy time to stall American military action against the North’s nuclear program.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in October that Pyongyang was within months of being able to hit targets across the United States, the most pessimistic assessment about its capabilities ever made. Even if North Korea is less advanced, it is undoubtedly almost across the finish line of a 25-year race. With just a little more time, Kim Jong Un could effectively immunize his nuclear and ballistic missile programs from a U.S. strike because of the risk he could retaliate with nuclear weapons.

With time having nearly run out, more rhetoric from China, similar to the past several decades, is simply unacceptable. China must use its unique economic leverage over North Korea now, either facilitating a controlled collapse of Kim’s regime to reunify the peninsula under an extended South Korean model, or replacing Kim with a new government that can unquestionably be made to hand over the nuclear weapons program. Although fraught with difficulties, this approach is now actually the “easy way” for China to achieve what is has said for decades is its policy, namely, eliminating Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

The hard way is to stand by while the United States uses military force to destroy that program before North Korea has the capacity to retaliate, also a risky strategy, especially for South Korea. America’s failure to act effectively, however, over 25 years and three presidents, frankly acknowledged in a recent opinion piece by Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s national security advisor, has brought us to this unhappy point.

If North Korea achieves deliverable nuclear weapons, it will be able to extort and coerce the United States, Japan, South Korea and others, not to mention opening a vast emporium of nuclear technology for the likes of Iran, other aspiring nuclear weapons states, and even terrorist groups. Arguments that Pyongyang can be contained and deterred as the Soviet Union once was are frank invitations to a new system of international terror, under terms and conditions far different from the Cold War.

Indeed, the likelihood of an increasingly multipolar nuclear weapons environment, a scenario we have never before experienced, should alone be enough to demonstrate that denuclearization of North Korea is truly the only way forward, as Trump urged the U.N. General Assembly in September. Make no mistake, we are very close to a decision whether North Korea’s threat will be handled the easy way or the hard way. Trump’s Asia trip may well prove to be the hinge point.


Lebanon’s fall would be Iran’s gain

This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on November 13, 2017. Click here to view the original article.

By John Bolton
November 13, 2017

Almost unnoticed in the coverage of President Trump’s Asia trip, Lebanon is slipping under Iran’s control. On Nov. 3, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Sunni, resigned, citing fears of assassination by Hezbollah, the Shia terrorist group funded and controlled by Iran. No one can say Hariri’s fears are unjustified since his father, former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, was murdered in 2005 — almost certainly at Syrian or Iranian direction.

While the full ramifications of Saad Hariri’s resignation remain to be seen, Tehran’s ayatollahs have now significantly extended their malign reach in the Middle East. This is bad for the people of Lebanon; bad for Israel, with which Lebanon shares a common border and a contentious history; bad for Arab states like Jordan and the oil-producing Arabian Peninsula monarchies; and bad for America and its vital national interests in this critical region.

Sadly, Iran’s progress was foreseeable from the inception of Barack Obama’s strategy of using Iraqi military forces and Shia militia units as critical elements in the campaign to eradicate the ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq. The Baghdad government is effectively Iran’s satellite. Accordingly, Obama’s decision to provide that regime with military assistance and advice strengthened Iran’s hand even further and materially contributed to its efforts to establish dominance in Iraq’s Shia regions.

Moreover, Iran itself, supported by Russian forces in Syria, aided and directed the Bashar Assad regime in fighting against both ISIS and the Syrian opposition. Iran also ordered Hezbollah to deploy from Lebanon into Syria, thus effectively creating a Shia-dominated arc of control from Iran itself to the Mediterranean.

Apparently, neither the Pentagon, nor the State Department, nor the National Security Council advised the new Trump administration of the implications of facilitating Iran’s Middle East grand strategy. Obama’s approach is, ironically, easier to understand, given his determination to secure his “legacy” by conceding vital U.S. national interests to nail down the Iran nuclear deal. Seeing Iran enhance its hegemonic aspirations throughout the region was, in his view, just another small price to pay to grease the way for the nuclear deal. Trump’s advisers have no such excuse.

Hariri’s resignation shows the inevitable consequences of blindly following Obama’s approach. Very little now stands in the way of Hezbollah’s total domination of the Lebanese government, thereby posing an immediate threat to Israel. In recent years, Tehran continued supplying the Assad regime and Hezbollah with weapons systems dangerous to Israel. Even more Israeli self-defense strikes are now likely, as Iran’s conventional threat on Israel’s borders grows.

Nearby Arab states also see the potential dangers of an unbroken Shia military arc of control on their northern periphery. The Middle East thus faces an advancing Syria, backed by Iran’s imminent nuclear-weapons capability, deliverable throughout the region — and likely able to reach America in short order.

The Trump administration cannot continue idly watching Iran advance without opposition. Washington and its regional allies need a comprehensive strategy to deal with Iran, not a series of ad hoc responses to regional developments. Time is fast running out.


Amb. John Bolton: America’s embassy in Israel should be moved to Jerusalem – NOW

America’s embassy in Israel should be moved to Jerusalem – NOW

This article appeared in FoxNews.com on November 8, 2017. Click here to view the original article.

By John Bolton
November 8, 2017

Whether to move America’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has long been a subject of political debate in the U.S. and abroad. It’s time now to resolve the debate by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city and relocating our embassy there on incontestably Israeli sovereign territory.

This relocation would be sensible, prudent and efficient for the United States. It would not adversely affect negotiations over Jerusalem’s final status or the broader Middle East peace process, nor would it impair our diplomatic relations among predominantly Arab and Muslim nations.

Over the years, as with many other aspects of Middle Eastern geopolitics, a near-theological view has developed here and abroad about the impact of moving the U.S. embassy. Now is the ideal time to sweep this detritus aside and initiate the long-overdue transfer.

Common sense dictates that America’s overseas diplomats should be located near the seat of government to which they are accredited, giving them proximity to political leaders and major government institutions. This also puts our diplomats near representatives of political, economic and social interests in the nations where the diplomats serve.

If the Middle East peace process is such a delicate snowflake that the U.S. embassy’s location in Israel could melt it, one has to doubt how viable it truly is.

Despite modern transportation and telecommunications capabilities, distance from the seat of government still imposes costs in time and resources, not to mention aggravation, on our diplomats in Israel. There is still no substitute for personal contact, face-to-face communications and easy accessibility – especially in times of crisis – with host-government officials and political leaders.

It’s legitimate for Congress to raise budgetary issues regarding both existing operations and the costs of a new embassy. Here, the verdict is clear. Congress staked out its position in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, with overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate.

Locating a new U.S. embassy in indisputably Israeli territory would be straightforward. Israel’s government has designated a site in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood, held in Israeli hands since the nation gained independence in 1948, for our new embassy.

Despite the overwhelming diplomatic and managerial advantages of relocating our embassy, numerous political issues have been advanced for keeping it in Tel Aviv. Some of these arguments are offered in good faith, including by those who wish Israel no harm.

But let’s be honest; many of these arguments are made for precisely the opposite reason – to continue to deny to Israel the acknowledgment that it is a legitimate state with a legitimate capital. There is a sense that perhaps repeating the arguments over time can make them more persuasive than their underlying merits.

The United States should treat respectfully all legitimate opinions regarding the embassy move. But we must not be held hostage to the misconceptions of those wishing neither us nor Israel well.

We should not discount our ability to justify our actions, even against propagandists attempting to falsify our intentions and integrity. Succumbing to threats for decades shows precisely the opposite about the character of our nation. It shows us susceptible to intimidation on the embassy location issue and, therefore, potentially also susceptible to intimidation on others.

Where the U.S. locates our embassy in Israel is a matter for America and Israel to decide.

One argument against moving the U.S. embassy is that so doing would prejudice the final status negotiations over Jerusalem. This argument is, at best, disingenuous. No serious proposal has ever suggested building embassy facilities anywhere east of the Green Line into territory Israel captured in the Six-Day War in 1967, in an area known as East Jerusalem.

Instead, proposals call for our embassy in the western portion of Jerusalem that has been Israel’s capital for as long as Israel has existed as a modern state. This is territory that Israel will hold unless its most ardent opponents get their wish and Israel is eradicated. Ironically, despite being the first country to recognize the new State of Israel in 1948, America has never formally recognized its sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem.

The origin of the opposition to establishing foreign embassies in Jerusalem stems from United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, adopted in November 1947, creating three entities out of what remained of Great Britain’s Palestinian Trusteeship: an Arab state, a Jewish state, and “the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem.”

Resolution 181 designated Jerusalem as a corpus separatum – a Latin term meaning a city or region given special legal and political status different from the surrounding area, but not considered an independent city-state. Jerusalem was placed under the authority of the U.N. Trusteeship Council – the U.N. Charter body administering, among other things, former mandates under the League of Nations.

Today, just weeks before Resolution 181’s 70th anniversary, it is a dead letter. Whatever else Jerusalem’s final status may be, there is no serious advocacy that Jerusalem be internationalized, and no real-world possibility that it will happen.

Nonetheless, the lingering effects of the internationalization idea persist in the contention that uncertainty exists over whether any part of Jerusalem will ultimately become Israel’s capital city.

In April this year, Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced that: “We reaffirm our commitment to the U.N.-approved principles for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, which include the status of east Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the same time, we must state that in this context we view west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Moscow’s frank acknowledgement of Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital, and the near-total absence of reaction around the world – especially in the Middle East – evidences the reality into which a U.S. decision to relocate its embassy would fall.

If Russia can accept that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital without receiving massive blowback, then surely so can the United States.

The second argument against relocation of the U.S. embassy is that the broader Middle East peace process would be adversely impacted. Palestinian negotiator Saab Erekat said last December, for example, that moving the embassy would cause the “destruction of the peace process as a whole.”

Surely, quite apart from being the kind of threat we should treat with disdain, this argument proves too much to swallow. Given the amount of economic and military assistance Washington has supplied to Israel over the years – not to mention huge amounts of private donations and humanitarian assistance from U.S. citizens – American support for the permanence of modern Israel should not be surprising.

If the Middle East peace process is such a delicate snowflake that the U.S. embassy’s location in Israel could melt it, one has to doubt how viable it truly is. This question calls for realism, not the overheated rhetoric we have heard too often.

Washington’s role as honest broker in the peace process will not be enhanced or reduced in the slightest by moving our embassy to Jerusalem. To say otherwise is to mistake pretext for actual cause.

Moving our embassy may produce new talking points for those who have never reconciled themselves to Israel’s existence in the first place, but it will not “cause” any change in the existing geopolitical state of play.

Finally, we hear constantly the argument that concedes an eventual decision to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel, but pleads that “right now” is not the correct time. This approach argues for a temporary deferral of the move, but curiously, “temporary” deferral has now lasted for nearly 70 years. We hear it still today.


What Pres. Trump must tell China

“Russia basically doesn’t see the North Korean nuclear capability as a threat to them. They think it’s our problem.”

“I think a nuclear North Korea is contrary to China’s best interests because it’s almost inevitable that if that really goes on, you’re going to see Japan get nuclear weapons.”

“But look, you have to face reality. For 25 years, we have tried to pressure or convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program and failed for twenty-five years. They are at the finish line.”

“Unless you’re prepared to leave North Korea with nuclear weapons, if China doesn’t deliver with its unique capability to pressure the North Koreans and denuclearize them, then the United States is going to have to look at doing it on its own. And nobody wants to talk about the military option, but that’s basically all there is left.”

“The alternative is the risk of dead Americans. That’s’ what the American people should focus on.”


Thanks to Obama, America is two steps behind Iran in Middle East

This article appeared in The Hill on October 23, 2017. Click here to view the original article.

By John Bolton
October 23, 2017

The fall of Raqqa, capital of the Islamic State’s “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, is unarguably an important politico-military milestone, albeit long overdue. Nonetheless, ISIS, a metastasized version of Al Qaeda, remains a global terrorist threat, and prospects for Middle Eastern stability and security for America’s interests and allies are still remote.

Even as ISIS was losing Raqqa, Iraqi regular armed forces and Shia militia were attacking Kirkuk and its environs, held by Iraqi Kurds since June 2014, when ISIS burst out of Syria and seized large swathes of territory from Baghdad’s collapsing army.

The battles for Raqqa and Kirkuk reveal much about the mistakes in U.S. strategy for defeating ISIS, and the consequences of not supporting Iraqi Kurdish efforts to establish an independent state. The two battles are closely related, proving again the historical reality that the Middle East is replete with multi-party, multi-dimensional conflicts, and contains more troublemakers than peacemakers.
Most importantly for Washington, Raqqa and Kirkuk demonstrate that Tehran’s malign regime is on the march, while American policy stands in disarray, even while President Trump rightly condemned Iran’s continued regional belligerency and support for global terrorism. How this came to be is a lesson in bureaucracy. Existing policies, on auto-pilot as always when new presidents take office, especially when Republicans replace Democrats, persisted after Jan. 20, without being subjected to searching review and modification.

Had the incoming Trump administration immediately reversed Barack Obama’s support for the Baghdad government, effectively a satellite of Tehran’s mullahs, we would not be, as we are now, objectively supporting Iran’s hegemonic regional ambitions. President Trump did order a faster operations tempo against ISIS, and made significant changes in the rules of engagement for U.S. military activities.

Unfortunately, however, he was apparently not given the option to dump Obama’s strategy of relying on regular Iraqi government troops and Shia militia, both dominated by Iran. Of course, Iraqi and Syrian Kurds could not have defeated ISIS alone, despite receiving U.S. advice and equipment and carrying a major part of the hostilities. The new administration should have pressed other Arab states, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, in addition to Syrian opposition forces, to take more substantial military roles.

The result is that, today, as the ISIS caliphate disintegrates, Iran has established an arc of control from Iran through Iraq to Assad’s regime in Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. If this disposition of forces persists, Iran will have an invaluable geo-strategic position for possible future use against Israel, Jordan or the Arabian Peninsula’s oil-producing monarchies. Thanks to Obama and the bureaucracy, the United States seemingly has no post-Raqqa politico-military policy, allowing Iran greater regional dominance by default.

Iran’s grand strategy became even more evident in the swift pivot of significant military resources from the anti-ISIS campaign to the anti-Kurd campaign, resulting in Kirkuk’s capture. Iraq’s government and its sycophants have said the Kirkuk assault was necessitated by Iraqi Kurdistan’s overwhelming vote for independence on Sept. 25. In fact, the referendum merely provided a pretext, not the reason, for the Iran-directed military action.

The real reason was that ISIS’s impending demise freed up regular and militia forces for what could be just the first stage in an Iranian effort to re-subjugate Iraqi Kurds to Baghdad. (To be sure, the Kurds themselves may have been partially responsible for their Kirkuk defeat. Conflicting media reports indicate that one Kurdish faction may have tried to cut a deal with the Baghdad — and implicitly Tehran — authorities, leading to Kurdish resistance around Kirkuk melting away.)

U.S. strategy, designed under Obama but continued by default under Trump, thus focused on one war while Iran was preparing for or waging three wars. Unfortunately, the cliché fits all too well: Washington is playing checkers while Tehran is playing not merely chess, but three-dimensional chess.

America saw only the war on ISIS and the need to destroy the caliphate. Iran shared that objective, but also prepared for two future conflicts: one against Israel and the Arab monarchies on a “southern front,” and another against the Kurds, on a “northern front.” Even as U.S.-directed mopping-up operations against ISIS continue, Iran is executing its two follow-on strategies, most visibly to the north against the Kurds, but perhaps even more significantly in the long term to the south.

There, Iran is continuing the long struggle for hegemony within Islam and in the broader Middle East, Shia against Sunni, Persian against Arab. Israel is just unlucky enough to be in the middle, not to mention being a prime target for Iran’s nuclear-weapons program.

Russia is also benefitting from America’s Middle East myopia. Moscow built from scratch a new air base at Latakia in Syria and increased its overall regional influence to levels not seen since Egypt’s Anwar Sadat expelled Soviet advisers in the 1970s. Russia’s next objectives are not yet clear, but the 180-degree reversal of more than four decades of successful U.S. efforts to keep Russia from meddling in the Middle East is stunning and dangerous.

President Trump must not allow bureaucratic inertia to block his efforts against Iran’s threat. Washington should recognize Kurdish independence and urgently supply training and equipment, particularly armor and artillery which the Kurds need to withstand the U.S. equipment previously supplied to Baghdad’s forces.

But broader leadership is also required. Rapidly increased pressure against Iran’s role as the world’s central banker of international terrorism, stressed in Trump’s Oct. 13 speech, cannot come fast enough. Abrogating Obama’s Iran nuclear deal cannot be delayed further.

Moreover, U.S. efforts to pressure Iran are undercut if the Europeans, through trade and investment, are propping up the ayatollahs. The administration should not allow the Europeans a free ride, but should instead pressure them to reduce their business dealings with the mullahs.

If not, Tehran will rightly conclude the United States is really not serious about confronting their threat to us and our allies. That is the legacy of the Obama administration. It should not also be the legacy of the Trump administration.


Amb. Bolton: North Korea’s nuclear war threat is propaganda

Transcript Highlights:

“This is propaganda from the North Korean’s and they are trying to intimidate those Americans who are capable of being intimidated. Unfortunately, there are large numbers of them. The threat in the region is North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. That’s what we have been grappling with unsuccessfully for over twenty-five years. The idea that somehow we’re responsible is ludicrous, except to those who believe that kind of North Korean propaganda.”

“They are definitely getting close to hitting targets all over the continental United States.”

“Nobody should be under any illusion that after twenty-five years and getting this close to the finish line, North Korea is going to be talked out of its nuclear weapons program. That is not going to happen.”

“I think the only diplomatic possibility here is with China to put enough pressure in on the regime in North Korea that it collapses or to acknowledge that we need to reunite the two Koreas. Otherwise, the options look a lot grimmer.”

“There is an easy answer here. We can just stop all this and let North Korea get nuclear weapons and live with it. That’s what Susan Rice, the National security Advisor in the Obama Administration wants to do.”


Eric Shawn reports: Changing the Iran deal

Transcript Highlights:

“What’s wrong here aren’t peripheral provisions of the deal. What’s wrong are the core elements of the deal.”

“Iran before the deal existed, for decades, has been violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which they joined completely voluntarily to be a non-nuclear weapons state saying they wouldn’t acquire or seek to get nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons technology. And they ignored that solemn international promise.”

“We could argue about whether Iran has violated the specific provisions contained in the deal regarding uranium enrichment. I think that’s irrelevant. They shouldn’t have any uranium enrichment at all. They have been pursuing nuclear weapons for twenty-five years or more. They haven’t given it up. They are still pursuing it today.”

“I think it’s simply delusional to say that we have adequate monitoring of what Iran is doing.”

It’s made it [Iran] more aggressive, more belligerent, and more dangerous. The Obama policy was appeasement and it failed.


A Slow Death for the Iran Deal

Trump has ‘scotch’d the snake, not kill’d it.’ But proposed congressional ‘fixes’ are feckless.

This article appeared in The Wall Street Journal on October 15, 2017. Click here to view the original article.

By John Bolton
October 15, 2017

As Abba Eban observed, “Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources.” So it goes with America and the Iran deal. President Trump announced Friday that the U.S. would stay in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, even while he refused to certify under U.S. law that the deal is in the national interest. “Decertification,” a bright, shiny object for many, obscures the real issue—whether the agreement should survive. Mr. Trump has “scotch’d the snake, not kill’d it.”

While Congress considers how to respond—or, more likely, not respond—we should focus on the grave threats inherent in the deal. Peripheral issues have often dominated the debate; forests have been felled arguing over whether Iran has complied with the deal’s terms. Proposed “fixes” now abound, such as a suggestion to eliminate the sunset provisions on the deal’s core provisions.

The core provisions are the central danger. There are no real “fixes” to this intrinsically misconceived agreement. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a party, has never included sunset clauses, but the mullahs have been violating it for decades.

If the U.S. left the JCPOA, it would not need to justify the decision by showing that the Iranians have exceeded the deal’s limits on uranium enrichment (though they have). Many argued Russia was not violating the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (though it likely was) when President Bush gave notice of withdrawal in 2001, but that was not the point. The issue was whether the ABM Treaty remained strategically wise for America. So too for the Iran deal. It is neither dishonorable nor unusual for countries to withdraw from international agreements that contravene their vital interests. As Charles de Gaulle put it, treaties “are like girls and roses; they last while they last.”

When Germany, Britain and France began nuclear negotiations with Iran in 2003, they insisted that their objective was to block the mullahs from the nuclear fuel cycle’s “front end” (uranium enrichment) as well as its “back end” (plutonium reprocessing from spent fuel). They assured Washington that Tehran would be limited to “peaceful” nuclear applications like medicine and electricity generation. Nuclear-fuel supplies and the timely removal of spent fuel from Iran’s “peaceful” reactors would be covered by international guaranties.

So firm were the Europeans that they would not even negotiate unless Iran agreed to suspend all enrichment-related activity. Under these conditions, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell agreed their effort could proceed. Today, JCPOA advocates conveniently ignore how much Barack Obama and the Europeans conceded to Iran’s insistence that it would never give up uranium enrichment.

The West’s collapse was a grave error. Regardless of JCPOA limits, Iran benefits from continued enrichment, research and development by expanding the numbers of scientists and technicians it has with firsthand nuclear experience. All this will be invaluable to the ayatollahs come the day they disdain any longer to conceal their real nuclear strategy.

Congress’s ill-advised “fixes” would only make things worse. Sens. Bob Corker and Tom Cotton suggest automatically reimposing sanctions if Iran gets within a year of having nuclear weapons. That’s a naive and dangerous proposal: Iran is already within days of having nuclear weapons, given that it can buy them from North Korea. On the deal’s first anniversary, Mr. Obama said that “Iran’s breakout time has been extended from two to three months to about a year.” At best, Corker-Cotton would codify Mr. Obama’s ephemeral and inaccurate propaganda without constraining Iran.

Such triggering mechanisms assume the U.S. enjoys complete certainty and comprehensive knowledge of every aspect of Iran’s nuclear program. In reality, there is serious risk Tehran will evade the intelligence and inspection efforts, and we will find out too late Tehran already possesses nuclear weapons.

The unanswerable reality is that economic sanctions have never stopped a relentless regime from getting the bomb. That is the most frightening lesson of 25 years of failure in dealing with Iran and North Korea. Colin Powell told me he once advised British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw : “Jack, if you want to bring the Iranians around, you have to hold an ax over their heads.” The new proposals aren’t even a dull razor blade.

The JCPOA is also packed with provisions that have never received adequate scrutiny. Take Annex III, which envisages full-scale assistance to, and cooperation with, Iran’s “peaceful” civil nuclear efforts. Annex III contemplates facilitating Iran’s acquisition of “state of the art” light-water reactors, broader nuclear-research programs, and, stunningly, protection against “nuclear security threats” to Iran’s nuclear program.

It sounds suspiciously like the Clinton administration’s failed Agreed Framework with North Korea. Many Clinton alumni were part of Mr. Obama’s Iran negotiation team. In Washington, nothing succeeds like failure. Mr. Trump and his congressional supporters should expressly repudiate Annex III and insist that Europe, Russia and China do the same.

The Iran nuclear deal, which Mr. Trump has excoriated repeatedly, is hanging by an unraveling thread. Congress won’t improve it. American and European businesses proceed at their own peril on trade or investment with Iran. The deal should have died last week and will breathe its last shortly.


Ambassador John Bolton, a diplomat and a lawyer, has spent many years in public service. He served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in 2005-2006. He was Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security from 2001 to 2005. In the Reagan Administration, he was an Assistant Attorney General.