Will Iran topple?
Former UN Ambassador John Bolton says US didn’t speak up in spring of 2009 to denounce allegedly fraudulent Iranian elections
- Duration 15:19
- Date Jan 31, 2012
Former UN Ambassador John Bolton says US didn’t speak up in spring of 2009 to denounce allegedly fraudulent Iranian elections
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Any of -- honored to have here our studios a former masters the UN John Bolton he's here to give us his thoughts on what's happening right now in Syria and the fact that.
Not a position to do anything of any substance at this point.
Right well there's a split obviously between the United States France and Britain on the one hand and Russia and China on the other.
You know the foreign ministers of the US UK -- France -- in New York today and normally when that when the foreign minister show up that means a very significant resolution is going to be adopted.
I don't see that happening I don't think the Russians in particular will allow any meaningful resolution out of the Security Council.
They've been shipping arms to the regime in Syria they've been cooperating with -- -- which is -- major external factor helping to prop up the Asad regime.
And that's one reason why the civil war has enormous implications because in effect it's a surrogate battleground.
Between the the -- and she.
Side and the Arab Sunni side and there's every prospect this will continue for some time.
So it's really unlikely that the United States could do anything to pressure Russia into cooperating to tried it.
You know bring down the violence and to stop.
-- shipments of arm arms to Iran at this point.
Know that this is part of the extended.
-- of influence that Iran is trying to create through the Al -- Iraqi regime in Iraq into Syria to Hezbollah and Lebanon.
So that's why this is a critical difference between Syria and the other countries of the Arab Spring is Iran's president say this is a strategic asset for them.
They're prepared to shed a lot of Syrian blood to keep the aside family dictatorship in power.
So how concerned are you about this continue into this situation continues to believed and with no apparent resolution in sight.
I mean it's an award if it continues over the long -- what are what are the most -- here.
Well I think the the risk of the conflict spreading.
-- just continues to grow you know we had.
A bit of a conflict in Bahrain.
An island off the coast of Saudi Arabia two thirds of the population -- the Amir's Sunni.
Has been a flashpoint between Iran and Saudi Arabia there are other flash points as well as we see the government of Egypt.
Come under the control of the Muslim.
Brotherhood and in parliament presidential elections coming up.
That the Camp David accord called and the jeopardy so Israel's security threat and obviously this conflict in Syria.
And I think when you add into that they continue to -- in progress toward nuclear weapons.
This year I think could be very very unstable and risky in the Middle East.
You are not alone in that feeling others.
A leaders have come out -- very much in step with what you're talking about about Iran being closer than ever than what many people expect to have a -- nuclear weapon in place.
I want to ask you -- I had to the former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge on my show over the weekend and he was really upset and alarmed about why this administration has continued to keep the -- deaf -- accused the opposition -- in Iran.
From going forward to try to help them.
Bring down the regime and he says what only he in his mind he can see happening is regime change -- all that at this point one can hope for.
Well ultimately that has to be part of our strategy and it's certainly not part of the president's strategy the fact is as long as the mullahs rule.
In Tehran there financing and arming of terrorist groups in the region and around the world is a threat their pursuit of nuclear weapons as a threat.
And we are simply not.
Taking advantage of the fact -- inside -- this regime is extraordinarily unpopular among unpopular among the young people they've made hash of the economy over the years there's ethnic conflict.
But it has the weapons it has the Revolutionary Guards in the -- -- militia it's not afraid to use them.
So if it -- we're helping the opposition.
In in various kinds of ways not with lethal force but in communications and other support.
Middle class people opponents of the regime in Tehran can't possibly stand up against the the revolution.
Married -- -- can you figure out rated in terms of you know if you put yourself from their position -- minister why they would be inclined not to make any effort at this point.
And what is it that's holding them back.
Well I think they're still obsessed with the idea that they can sit down with Somalis and negotiate an end of their nuclear weapons program I thought that was wrong since the beginning but the president laid it out in his inaugural address.
He's continued to pursue it despite all the evidence that there's no way you can talk Iran out of its weapons program.
And that's the only explanation going back to the spring of 09 when they didn't even speak up in the half of the people.
Protesting what we're obviously fraudulent presidential elections and that was a big opportunity at that point to do that -- -- -- that he failed to do so he didn't I I will say this I don't think the Bush Administration laid the ground work for I think we should have been doing a lot -- over ten year period to help the opposition in -- If we had we been a better position today to pursue a policy of regime change.
So if we initiated that analysis wanna say let's say something -- about an about face was done.
Would it make have as much impact is usually don't relish -- -- before but I suppose.
He ended up -- to present I suppose.
-- better -- had never that short answer you know regime change is not something you can turn on and off like a light switch.
But if we Begin to lay the ground work because the opposition to the regime is so widespread I I think we would have.
A chance if we if we just made adequate preparation.
Quick comment from -- From key chain doesn't serious show that the UN is ineffective when it really matters.
Well this is a conflict that I think the UN will be absolutely powerless to do anything about -- -- meaningful way and it shows when the Security Council is divided as it was during the entire Cold War.
One major political issues the UN will be absent without leave and I don't think anybody should be surprised by this I think when you.
Put your faith in the Security Council is a major element of protecting.
The United States and its friends and allies inevitably you will this be disappointed and that's what's gonna happen in Syria.
Many of my -- -- -- that was when I need to pregnancy did you did bring up the fact that the Muslim brotherhood of courses.
Having a very influential role in parliament there -- currently and we're expecting election to take place affect the pixel.
Are not letting Americans.
Traveled outside the country is a serious one and I know that obviously negotiating going on but.
Are you surprised it has gotten to this levels and at this quickly this flash point as happened at this as so early and that the United States is saying that if you don't.
Step up and let these people go.
We -- you know we keep sending you money that money is gonna be cut off yet.
This is a very serious mistake by the government of -- the activities these people are engaged in more well known to the Egyptian government they've harassed them before but never like this and you know if you didn't like the programs you want to get these people out of the country the reason they're being denied exit is to set up the potential for trial and imprisonment and Egyptian prison is definitely one place you don't want a big -- That's so I would I would not necessarily be doing this publicly but behind the scenes I would be telling Egypt in no uncertain terms.
You are jeopardizing your relationship with the United States when you undertake this kind of activity and congress is not gonna sit idly by whatever the administration might think about cutting off assistance and like it or not congress may act on its own.
Very dangerous situation there room for curiously and I I think it's gonna get worse before it gets better and another comments from -- of our other viewers.
-- -- -- -- How does ambassador Bolton see the Iran standoff playing out is it likely -- sanctions are going to help.
-- the sanctions are not gonna constrain Iran's nuclear weapons program you know the most heavily sanctioned country in the world as North Korea and they've exploded two nuclear devices.
What -- that -- the sanctions can apply pressure on the regime in Tehran I think that's a good thing as we -- to get to regime change.
But it's not gonna stop them from getting nuclear weapons right now.
The most likely outcome is that's exactly what happens Iran does get nuclear weapons and his Defense Secretary Panetta said again yesterday that could be within a year.
This year I think people are there people who just are saying that's not -- think that that that they think they're denial I think for the most part I.
I thought is that way there's there's a lot of information we don't have about Iran -- nuclear weapons program none of -- can be good news right in other words if that if the best scenario is it'll take them here it's I think more likely they could do it you know finish shorter period of time and that obviously puts.
Pressure on Israel the Obama administration is not gonna use force against the Iran -- nuclear program.
Israel has not hesitated to act in self defense.
Faced with prior nuclear threats and they've got to make a very difficult decision I think in the near future maybe this year whether they -- act.
Against the decision should they don't wanna make right now -- is such an election -- in particular the election.
I know that you have endorsed Mitt Romney for president foreign policy issues have not become front and center as much as one would expect or hope I know there's a lot going -- -- on the domestic side because of our economic situation but I do our Lynn.
From the -- was asking.
How do you think the candidates are doing on foreign policy so far.
On the stump.
Out there well I think on the Republican side other than Ron Paul that they they have they've addressed the issues well I wish there were greater priority for -- you know you can't have.
A strong prosperous America without a strong international presence and vice Versa you can't defend their interest internationally if the economy at home this week.
That relationship is real and even though the president doesn't like to address it would prefer not to look at international affairs.
The reality is that the rest of the world is not going to be gracious enough to allow us to get our economic house in order before they.
Challenges so I I hope the candidates are able to raise these issues.
To a higher degree of -- than they have.
Credit America's for the most part though they still are detached from a lot of the events that are happening overseas because of what's happening in their own immediate backyards and that's tough.
Got that look they they they focus on what's appropriate for them but I think historically Americans have looked at national security policy and presidential elections as a surrogate for a lot of -- sensual qualities in -- present leadership judgment character.
And and they they know they're delegating a lot of authority and international affairs to present so they want somebody they have confidence -- and that's why discussing these issues.
Has and and could be I think very beneficial to a candidate who's able to show.
His confidence in the area in the general election.
Speaking of the white house on international issues interest an interesting side -- Are you familiar packets of you are Vice President Biden now saying that he -- the president not to make the strike against Osama bin Laden even though.
Others in the room -- they weren't saying yesterday they were hedging their bets on it and yet he actually admitted publicly that he said no don't do it.
Well there's there's there's no explaining what goes through the vice president's line from time to time maybe he had two good suggestions of additional.
Information he didn't tell us what those favourite.
I I think the more revealing comment -- he -- other than Defense Secretary Panetta who said let's go ahead everybody else said well on the one hand on the other -- and you know honestly for president faced with a very difficult decision having a bunch of advisors who can barely make up their own minds is not terribly helpful.
It's not it was not.
Praise for the rest of the Obama camp.
NSA I have not Obama's leadership -- that he decided to go ahead despite -- -- you know.
The uncertainty that others were -- were advising you know giving him and and Panetta what to do it you know -- vice president said god don't do it went.
When that President Obama called President Bush to say he would he was going ahead with the rate President Bush holding it was a good call and I think it was a good call and there was political risk had -- midnight failed.
It would have been a problem but it's also a mistake so give for the president credit where it's also a mistake to say.
He should take all the credit -- as if Richard Nixon took all the credit in 1969 when Americans landed on the moon.
It's true that it happened during his presidency but the military and intelligence effort to find and get -- Osama bin Laden had been going on for ten years and the navy seal team six raid was the product of a lot of effort by a lot of people.
And the other developing the news it's come I was effectively -- the drone strike.
Apparently taking out isn't al-Qaeda members of the fact that this administration is now and using this technology.
Going forward it's been relying on is seems like as a -- do you.
Go after these terrorists without putting -- our troops in harm's way.
Well you know it also contradicts a lot of what the president said during the election campaign about treating terrorism as -- -- an aspect of criminal law rather than the law of Warsaw I I think actually his use of drones against the terrorist.
Has helped -- the end.
The reality that this is perfectly permissible in a wartime environment against terrorists who -- determined to do us great harm.
How -- personal note how concerned are you at this point.
Where we are historically.
-- -- on the world stage at this moment what is it.
But before that event -- -- -- what are you most concerned about I'm sure you are thinking about so many of these issues the what is it that's giving you the most concern at this point.
Well I think the overall impression that the Obama administration leaves is of an America turning its attention away from the rest of the world not interested in.
Issues far and wide not determined to stand up for American interest and the perception of decline.
Has a way of feeding on itself our adversaries.
Sense that our friends senses well they re calibrate their policies accordingly and it just leaves us in more and more difficult positions in the Middle East is one.
Vis a vis China is another major area of concern that's why I think in our presidential election we should have greater discussion -- international implications.
Of who we select because it will have a big impact on us here at home even though you may not see it.
Directly the effect on our economy and our overall way of life is going to be very substantial.
Absolutely we've got one final question have come -- one of our.
Of viewers here's ask is -- is Chris Dyson was established -- or Russia from simply giving Iran and its.
Well you know than the -- I don't think of questions we'll do that but but the -- have cooperated with North Korea for over ten years on ballistic missiles which is the delivery vehicle for nuclear weapons.
And I think every reason to believe they've cooperated on nuclear weapons matters as well you know the north Koreans were building a nuclear reactor in Syria until Israel destroyed it in September of 2007 -- They weren't doing that because of their historical cultural.
Kennedys they were doing it because somebody.
Put that together to hide it from international scrutiny probably Iran.
So this risk of Iran and North Korean cooperation is really axis of -- not just could not afford to reality.
Very sobering thought my god there's so much going on the world right and we have to be very very careful about and you know it's hard I think sometimes supposed to think.
I mean I had dealings over the optimist I don't know about you but it is hard when you.
Take a look at the realities confronting us today that there are a lot of -- -- -- this is gonna have to deal with and ignoring them isn't gonna make the whole thing.