By Lisa Barron
Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton says the Obama administration is focused on salvaging the president’s domestic policies at the expense of addressing international affairs that are critical to U.S. security.
Writing in The Washington Times Tuesday, Bolton compared Obama to Nero, infamously known as the Emperor who “fiddled while Rome burned,” maintaining that the president has “resolutely consigned foreign and defense issues to the bottom of his policy agenda, resulting in increasing disarray both domestically and abroad” over the past five years.
“The United States needs strategic thinking internationally, and we are getting the opposite.”
Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, continued, “Mr. Obama’s personal Rome, the Affordable Care Act, is indeed self-immolating, and he responds by giving speeches (his version of playing Nero’s cithara) rather than taking command to save his eponymous program before the administration itself is consumed.”
“Domestic troubles, however, in no way justify indifference to foreign affairs. If anything, political weakness at home only exposes a president to greater risks internationally,” he added.
“Mr. Kerry is following the widely held but erroneous view that resolving the Israel-Palestinian issue is the panacea for Middle East peace and security.
“Empirically, this view has little to recommend it, and years of bloody evidence to refute it,” Bolton continued. “Nonetheless, Mr. Kerry (and, one assumes, his president) are uninterested in debating establishment theology. They are too busy lighting candles at the altar.”
Meanwhile, Bolton argued, they are ignoring “spiraling crises” elsewhere, pointing to several recent developments.
“While Kerry waited for Ben Gurion Airport’s runways to be cleared of snow last week, the Associated Press headlined, ‘As ties warm, EU parliament delegation visits Iran,’ and the Financial Times blared, ‘Iran thaw cheers French carmakers,” he wrote.
“These news headlines are the visible manifestation of Iran’s massive psychological breakthrough in the Geneva talks . . . Iran has flipped international expectations to its advantage, while Mr. Kerry has worried about Israeli construction of apartment buildings near Jerusalem.”
“Mr. Putin will not watch quietly as Ukraine slips out of Moscow’s orbit to join the West, but Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry seem completely inattentive,” he said.
Turning to East Asia, Bolton noted the Times’ headline, “American and Chinese Navy Ships Nearly Collided in South China Sea,” and The Washington Post’s “China-Japan rift silently grows.”
“Rarely in world history does a shift in the balance of power occur quickly and visibly. That may well be happening in Asia, though, as America’s defense capabilities, particularly its once-dominant Navy, wane and Beijing takes advantage of the vacuum thus created,” he said.
Bolton continued, “Unfortunately, this is but a partial list of disturbing headlines from recent days: Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea and others could be added.
“Time is growing ever shorter,” he concluded. “Ask Nero how it turns out.”
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