Former United States Ambassador John Bolton gave a scalding critique of the Obama administration's foreign policy when he visited Penn on Tuesday.
Penn Federalist Society and College Republicans hosted the former ambassador to speak about "National Security Issues Facing the Next President," according to the Facebook event, but the current administration was the primary focus of the discussion. Bolton spoke about how he thinks President Obama’s policies have threatened relative global prosperity and stability.
“The view that has predominated over the last eight years, which holds that it's America’s presence in the world which causes much of the difficulty, is flatly wrong,” Bolton said. “Since 1945, whatever minimal order and security there is was created by the United States … [and] if the United States steps back from this role … various alternatives will try to take it, and they will not do it benignly or in the interest of the United States.”
The former ambassador did not present his theory without evidence. During the hour lecture, Bolton noted how multiple geopolitical antagonists were already growing bolder in their actions against the United States. He paid particular attention to Russia’s new role in Eastern Europe.
“Going back to the summer of 2008 in the conflict with Georgia, and continuing with Ukraine, particularly the annexation of Crimea…the Russians have used military force to change international boundaries.” Bolton said. “Because [Russian Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin has marked the man in the White House … as weak.”
Bolton went on to cite Chinese territorial aggression, the ever-more autocratic government of Turkey, the Syrian Civil War and an ambitious Iran, all as consequences of the current administration.
Denouncing the Islamic Republic as “the leading state-financer of terrorism all around the world,” Bolton said he thought Iran was encouraged by America’s impotence, especially with the recent U.S.-Iranian nuclear agreement.
“The [Iranian] Ayatollahs are on a course to nuclear weapons…[because President Obama’s] nuclear deal is the worst example of appeasement in American history,” Bolton said. “And until we get serious about constraining Iranian influence in support of terrorists … and pursuing nuclear weapons, Iran will remain the most destructive force in the entire Middle East.”
Circling back to the theme of the afternoon, Bolton said he did not anticipate the next president calming turbulent geopolitical crises. He acknowledged, in light of recent polls, that he thought Hillary Clinton would most likely be elected. And he projected that her administration would carry on the same policies he had criticized earlier.
“I think Hillary Clinton will be Barack Obama’s third term … And the risks of continuing the policies that we’ve been pursuing these last eight years are absolutely enormous.”
Despite Bolton’s dismal projections, students attending the event were not dismayed. More than anything, they were happy to have a policy-oriented discussion as a break from the more personal spats between the candidates in the news recently.
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