Ambassador John Bolton on Benghazi, Iran, Obama and Hillary’s Fail at State
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HH: This is a special hour. I’m joined in studio by former, America’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador John Bolton, and by his colleague at the United Nations, former Ambassador Robert C. O’Brien. And gentlemen, welcome to you both. Mr. Ambassador Bolton, I want to start by saying you may be the president of Red Eye, but you’re the Secretary of State of the Hugh Hewitt Show. So we’re very glad to have you here.
JB: Sounds good to me.
HH: Where did this president of Red Eye come from?
JB: Well, it was a Greg Gutfeld idea. He hasn’t fully appreciated what the implications of that decision are, and I’ll speak to him next week about the budget of the show, and particularly his salary. He may reconsider, but it may be too late for him at that point.
HH: That is such a terrific thing for social media. I didn’t know about it until Conservative LA and a number of the people who follow the Hugh Hewitt Show on Twitter were tweeting you out, because I don’t watch Red Eye. I’m never awake to watch Red Eye. I’m surprised you stay up to do Red Eye. But that’s a completely different demographic than talk radio, isn’t it?
JB: It certainly is, and I think it’s big in California, because of course, they broadcast it once. It’s Midnight out here rather than 3am in the East Coast. And would I be revealing a national security secret if I told you we didn’t tape it at 3 in the morning?
HH: That’s okay to let people know, but it still does air at Midnight, and that’s way too late for me. I want to begin where, obviously we have to begin with Joe Biden, who is an old and dear friend of yours.
HH: And Robert Gates just described Joe Biden as having been wrong about every major foreign policy issue for the last quarter century. Do you agree with former Secretary of Defense Gates on this issue?
JB: Well, it’s worse than that. I’m very jealous that he said that, because if I had thought of it first, I would have wanted to have said it. But yes, absolutely, it’s a real problem for the United States where its foreign policy establishment, of which Biden is an epitome, has been so wrong so often.
HH: Who would be a worse president – President Biden or President Hillary Clinton?
JB: I think Hillary Clinton would be a worse president, because she’s smarter and more effective than Biden, and would be smarter and more effective than Obama. And I view her policies, she and her husband were a year ahead of me in law school. I’ve known them for a long time. And back in law school, she was very radical. Her appearance as a moderate these past ten years, I think, is due to the sophisticated political advice of Bill. But I think where her heart is was Hillarcare in 1993-94, the ancestor of Obamacare. And that would be the direction of a Clinton administration.
HH: Now Ambassador Bolton, we’re going to cover a lot of ground this hour, but I want to begin by telling people about BoltonPac. That’s one word, www.boltonpac.com. It’s linked at www.hughhewitt.com, and people can follow you on Twitter @AmbJohnBolton. But what is BoltonPac?
JB: Well, I have created both a Pac and a SuperPac, or 527 committee, as some people call it, to support House and Senate candidates in this fall’s election who believe that the United States should have a strong national security policy, who think it should be a major subject of our political debate, because our way of life here at home depends on a strong American position internationally, and who are willing to stand up for those positions. I think under Obama, national security has fallen off the radar screen of political issues. And honestly, I don’t think the Republican Party has done an effective job in opposing that gap. And if we don’t start talking about these national security issues, we will find ourselves in desperate straits. Ignoring what’s going on overseas doesn’t make the problems any less significant. It simply allows them to fester until a time when we will not be prepared to handle them.
HH: Robert C. O’Brien, you were the Ambassador’s colleague at the United Nations, so you can embarrass him a little bit. You did a political event with him earlier today for Congressman Gary Miller out in California. What’s the difference when you’re talking foreign policy with Ambassador Bolton, say, than with a member of the House of Representatives?
RO’B: Well, Gary Miller did a great job today at the event talking about the importance of U.S. national security, and the importance of a strong America overseas. So I was impressed by Congressman Miller. I think the Ambassador was as well, and I think it’s these sorts of events where John’s going out and bringing his stature, his international reputation and his conservative credentials to House candidates around the country that are going to make some of these very tough races a little bit better for pro-Defense GOP candidates. But there is a huge difference when you’ve got a guy with Ambassador Bolton’s experience. You know, he’s done the nuclear arms control treaties as the undersecretary. He’s been our ambassador at the United Nations. He’s run AID and been around the world doing foreign aid. He understands the world like, I don’t think there are many other people in the party or in the country that have a better understanding of our national security needs and the international situation that Ambassador Bolton. And I think folks would, they may not agree with him on the other side, but I think folks on both sides of the aisle would agree with that assessment.
HH: So Ambassador Bolton, if you had to decide today, would you run for president in 2016?
JB: Well, I wouldn’t make that decision today. I did think about it and talk about in 2011-2012 for the same reason that we’ve just discussed. I do not think the President cares enough about American national security or America’s place in the world to do the job that needs to be done to protect our interests and those of our friends and allies. And I was worried that the Republican Party would let the issue slide off the radar screen. I’m even more worried today now that the fifth year of the Obama administration is over, and the Republican Party itself is seeing the growth of an isolationist wing for the first time since the 1930s. But my focus right now is on this Pac and SuperPac, the critical need to keep control of the House, get control of the Senate, but to get national security candidates a higher prominence within the party. So after the 2014 election, then I’ll think about it.
HH: Now I want to talk to you about the vote last week to cut the military COLA for active duty retirees, by which we mean men and women in uniform who are going at least 20 years, and those who have retired recently between the ages of 42 and 62. The Congress voted to cut their COLA, which is a significant amount of money, about $80,000 over 20 years for an E-7, about $140,000 for a lieutenant colonel. More importantly, it’s a breach of faith, and the Republicans said they had to do it. I got into it with Paul Ryan last week on this program, and I have been arguing about it for a week now with anyone who will listen. What was your opinion on that?
JB: I couldn’t understand it. To me, it was incomprehensible in a budget deal that was always going to be fairly insignificant, why that had to be one of the targets for cuts. If they couldn’t find anything else to cut, I just would have left that out and taken the consequences in sequestration elsewhere. It is a breach of faith with the military. There are a lot of reforms that could be made across the board in federal government pension programs, and if it were part of a bigger picture, that would be a different story. But it wasn’t. And I think it goes to a central question that the Republican Party in particular has to face, which is, is every dollar of federal expenditure exactly equal? Is what we do with our military the same as soy bean subsidies? Are they that fungible? Is all you care about cutting the budget? Or do you believe, as Ronald Reagan did, that national security is not a budget item?
HH: I had a similar argument with Bob Corker a few years ago. He had one of his budget magic fixes, and he wouldn’t commit, he wanted 20% of the GDP to be committed to the federal government, no more. And I said that’s fine, provided that 4% of the GDP goes to Defense. He wouldn’t commit to that. That was a no-brainer for a Reagan era conservative. Ought it to be a no-brainer today?
JB: Yeah, look, we said during the Cold War we believed in military superiority. That was what kept America safe. And the mantra was Peace Through Strength. Right now, we are weakening, our Defense budget is in severe trouble, not just because of sequestration, but because of hundreds of billions of dollars of other budget cuts that the Obama administration made. And I think that those who focus just on the budget are forgetting what Adam Smith said. I mean, if you want Tea Party, free market principles, Adam Smith said in the Wealth Of Nations, the first duty of the state is the protection of the society against violence from other societies. The first duty of the state. And if we don’t take care of that, you can argue about economic and budget policy all you want. We will be in jeopardy.
HH: Yesterday on this program, and people can read the transcript if they want at www.hughhewitt.com, and we posted the audio as well of Dr. Charles Krauthammer, hour long interview like this one. He said that look, national security, foreign policy, just doesn’t really matter in presidential elections. How do you respond to that?
JB: Well, I think it has been invisible in the past couple of presidential elections. I think that’s correct. But I think it would be wrong to say it doesn’t matter, that it shouldn’t matter, and that it couldn’t matter. The fact is we now face threats around the world that are growing, some are great strategic threats, some are more immediate, but I think these threats have a direct impact on the economic well-being of the American people. I think the American people are very practical. And if they have leaders who address these issues, I think they will respond to them. I think foreign and defense policy are really surrogates for leadership. I think the people look at how our candidates address national security issues, and they say yes or no, yes, that person is qualified to sit behind the big desk at the White House. So leaving them behind is bad policy for the country. I think it’s bad politics, too.
HH: Now John Bolton, I’ve always thought of you as sort of the diplomat and the Defense intellectual, not the retail politician. 45 seconds to the break, do you like mixing it up with the average voter at an event, like, for Gary Miller today? Do you like doing that sort of thing?
JB: Well, I have found that actually, I do. And I’ve fundraised for other candidates over the years. I did a lot in the Romney campaign. And you know, there’s a lot to learn from talking to people outside the Beltway in Washington. I think it is an acquired taste. I know a lot of people who don’t like it. I know a lot of people who don’t like fundraising. I think I’m actually getting pretty good at it.
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HH: I think I got it right this time, Robert, didn’t I?
RO’B: You did.
HH: You see, I always get the titles wrong. I know to call Ambassador Ambassador. By the way, Mr. Ambassador, no one else knew this, and I didn’t know this until you sat down, or I had forgotten. You did a lot of domestic policy in the Reagan Justice Department, and I want people to know that you were in the front lines of the Bork-Ginsberg-Kennedy battles, because that’s a different dimension. A lot of people just put you in the foreign policy dimension, but that was the most brutal domestic political battle, really to the present, actually.
JB: Yeah, it was. The Bork confirmation fight was one of the worst episodes of the United States Senate in its entire history, because there was nobody better qualified in the United States to be a Supreme Court justice than Bob Bork, and he was slandered in a political campaign that neither the Reagan administration nor the conservative community adequately dealt with. But you know, we felt in working for Ed Meese there at the Justice Department, that the Supreme Court nominations, the Court of Appeals, district court nominations, were absolutely critical to Reagan’s bigger legacy, because it represented a fight for the control of the third branch of government. So we had gotten Rehnquist and Scalia confirmed, and the Democrats began to see that with an intellect as towering at Bob Bork on the Supreme Court, that they would lose control of the judiciary for as far as the eye can see, and so they went at it hammer and tong. And it’s a great tragedy for the Reagan administration, not to mention Bob himself, obviously, that we didn’t prevail there.
HH: Now Justice Anthony Kennedy, one of those figures about whom I have much to say to my law school class all the time, he’s enigmatic, he’s often right, as in Citizens United, and on the Commerce Clause he is often very wrong, on things like marriage and many other issues. What did you make of him at the time of the nomination?
JB: Well, he was picked after Doug Ginsberg was nominated after Bork and self-destructed, and very unfairly treated by the media.
HH: Doug Ginsberg had self-destructed.
JB: Doug Ginsberg, yeah. He had done things like smoked marijuana as a college student, which is now practically…
HH: He should have done it in Colorado.
JB: …a qualification to be president of the United States, apparently. So Tony Kennedy came next, and he was viewed as, Ed Meese knew him personally. He was viewed as a conservative on the 9th Circuit, but he was finally the candidate that the Democrats could accept. And I take your assessment of his performance on the Court. He’s a very bright man. He works probably as hard as any Supreme Court justice there is. It’s just his views put him as the swing fifth vote. And so a voting record that might not get as much attention if he were in a smaller group becomes absolutely critical. Who gets Kennedy is often the dispositive fifth vote in important Constitutional precedence.
HH: You know, it’s the interesting thing about you and Secretary of State Clinton, one year apart at Yale Law School. She was around D.C. at that time. She was on the House Judiciary Committee, and then she goes down to Arkansas. But she played in the same kind of Congressional judicial battles in which you had to participate as a part of the Reagan administration. Were you surprised on the night of Benghazi, you’ve known her a long time, that she vanishes after the call with Greg Hicks?
JB: It’s absolutely stunning. I’ve worked for six different secretaries of State, very different people, different priorities, different philosophies. It’s inconceivable to me that any of them would have allowed to happen what happened before September 11th in Benghazi, on September 11th, or thereafter. It’s a complete failure of leadership by Hillary Clinton at the State Department, and by Barack Obama as president. It’s a disgrace to the country.
HH: Now at 2am in the morning, she talks to Mr. Hicks in Tripoli, who is the number two guy in the country. The ambassador is missing. She okays the plan to retreat in Tripoli to the CIA annex. And then an hour later, the ambassador is dead, the CIA annex is under attack, everything’s gone to hell in Benghazi, and Tripoli is messed up, too. They’re doing Argo in Tripoli. She never calls him back. Can you imagine yourself letting your number two drift for the next twelve hours without calling him back and at least saying atta boy, stick with it?
JB: No, not at all. I don’t understand the performance of the entire administration. And I’ll tell you one other thing I don’t understand. By the admission of then-Secretary of Defense Panetta, and I believe Secretary Clinton, the two of them never talked. Every other secretary of State I know of would have been on the phone to their counterpart at the Defense Department every fifteen minutes saying what do you got, what do you got, what can we do? The President disappeared, Secretary Clinton disappeared, and you know, people say well, this is well below her level. No, it’s not. Not when you’ve got people under attack in a foreign country and obviously in desperate circumstances. At that point, the secretary of State becomes the Libya desk officer.
HH: That’s an interesting way to put it. Finding number seven of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s report on Benghazi says that military assets were not available. It then goes on to quote testimony of the general who says nothing of the sort. He says Strike Eagles were on the ground in Djibouti, that, and that was the distance between Washington and Los Angeles. It doesn’t say they couldn’t get there, it didn’t say anything about tankers. It goes to other…are you satisfied that anyone has answered these questions, yet, about the relief of Benghazi adequately?
JB: No, I don’t think we know enough about what the possibilities were on September 11th, but I think the bigger failing was in the years before September 11th. Let’s remember when Gaddafi was overthrown in February of 2011, it was decided to withdraw all official Americans from Tripoli because of the danger of the anarchy that was existing in the country. We had to rent a Greek ferryboat to come and get the official Americans out of Tripoli. There was no Navy asset available. Now in a country as significant for the Obama administration as Libya, we’d just overthrown Muammar Gaddafi, the dictator. This was a vindication of his policies on the Arab Spring. This was a high priority country. Not to have considered security is a gross dereliction of duty. And I believe, actually, it may be worse than that, because I think they did consider security. But they were in the grip of an ideology that said the Arab Spring is going to prevail, the threat from international terrorism has declined, the war on terror is over, and therefore to have put significantly enhanced security into Tripoli or Benghazi would have been an admission that things were not so fine there. And that, they would not do.
HH: Robert C. O’Brien, you’re the Navy guy, and you helped serve the Romney campaign as one of the advisors on the Navy. There was no carrier in the Mediterranean. That’s the finding in the Senate Committee on Benghazi. Does that shock you that we didn’t have a carrier in the Mediterranean when Benghazi was going to hell?
RO’B: It’s not surprising given the cuts that have taken place in the U.S. Navy. I mean, we’re down to 280-some ships. It’s going south. Secretary Hagel is talking about a six carrier Navy, which means that any given time, you’d have two carrier in being maintained, two going out, and two out on patrol. If you’ve got two out on patrol, it’s a pretty big world. You’ve got one in the Pacific, and one in the Gulf, there’s no room for a carrier, there’s no carrier in the Mediterranean. Think back to the Reagan years and the idea that there would not be an American carrier battle group in the Mediterranean sea is unthinkable. And yet now, that’s the world we live in given the massive cuts to the Defense budget, and specifically to the Navy, and the failure to build the type and maintain the type of fleet that Ronald Reagan had.
HH: Did the Defense Approps bill maintain eleven carrier groups? Do you know?
RO’B: I believe it’s still the law, but there are folks at the Pentagon and the Obama administration that aren’t happy about it, because it’s going to require cuts in other places.
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HH: Mr. Ambassador, you’ve been in a lot of crises over a lot of years. And Robert was pointing out during the break that when the night that Osama bin Laden was blessedly dispatched to the next world, everybody was in the Situation Room. I pointed out Eric Holder wasn’t there for reasons that still continue to elude me. But that’s where you go when there’s hell breaking loose. That’s where Dan Quayle managed the Philippine coup from in the W. one, Bush I administration. Why wasn’t Hillary there on the night of Benghazi with Panetta, with the President, with whoever was the National Security Advisor then?
JB: No, there’s no excuse for it when at the time, of course, we could not have known that the only attack would be on the consulate in Benghazi. We had seen the potential for terrorism all across Libya, and who knew what might happen elsewhere in the Middle East? We saw in Tunisia the next day the school across from the U.S. Embassy was attacked, in Cairo, the security wall again around the Embassy compound had been breached, and our flag had been torn down, and the black flag of al Qaeda raised. This could have been the beginning, the attack in Benghazi, of a series of attacks against Americans, official and private, around the Middle East. They should have been in a crisis mode at that point. And it’s no argument that well, the attack ended, and it was over. They didn’t know at the time it could be over. So I think it is yet another mark of their utter lack of interest in national security affairs.
HH: Utter lack of interest, and this is an important distinction, or extraordinarily refined sense of political vulnerability. In other words, Mrs. Clinton is a genius, politically, except for her campaign, in which she underestimated President Obama. And Bill Clinton is a genius. They knew they had to run from this, that this could destroy them unless they vanished. President Obama knew he had to run from this or it could destroy the campaign. That’s what they did. They ran from the field of battle. And isn’t the Ambassador his personal representative? Weren’t they friends?
JB: Yeah, I don’t think the battle is over. And I think if they thought this is the classic political, classic political operatives response, distance yourselves from a problem, this problem isn’t over for them. And it’s really the long term implications of the attack in Benghazi that we should focus on. Most Americans don’t, I think, appreciate that a U.S. ambassador to a foreign country is the President’s personal representative. There are a lot of agencies there, but the Ambassador, when he or she drives around the capital city in a foreign country, the American flag flies on the right fender of their limousine. Everybody knows who the American Ambassador is. And what we have now is that absolutely nothing has happened in the fourteen months since Benghazi. Nobody’s been arrested, there’s been no retaliation. Nothing. So what is the lesson that terorrists learn? What is the lesson that our adversaries, what is the lesson that our friends learn from this? The lesson they learn is that under Obama, you can kill his personal representative and get away with no retribution at all. That is a terribly dangerous lesson for the United States.
HH: Now the President obviously could still act on this. He shows no sign of doing so. Indeed, he shows every sign of opposing the advance of Sisi in Egypt, and the retribution against the Libyan Islamists. Is he passive? Or is he ideologically committed, you used that term earlier, so ideologically bound up in a vision of what they think is going to happen? Which do you think it is?
JB: I think it’s a combination of both. Passivity is the way he looks at things, because I think he thinks America pushes its weight around in the world too much, is too strong. That obviously has an ideological component as well. I think he really thinks that the Muslim Brotherhood is a perfectly democratic movement and could rule countries successfully. I think he doesn’t understand what it is. But I also think he believes that America has gotten too much of its will in the world from acting, and he believes that we are part of the problem, that our strength is provocative, that we cause some of the disarray.
HH: He won reelection.
JB: …and instability. He didn’t campaign on it. Let’s face it. He won reelection by ducking the issue, basically, and I don’t think we put up an adequate response to it. And I worry we’re not putting up an adequate response to it now.
HH: Was that an oversight of the Romney campaign not to make foreign affairs…obviously, Candy Crowley intervened in the third debate, but was that Team Romney’s fault for not putting it forward, ten seconds?
JB: I think it was the whole Republican Party’s fault, because I think people want to see leadership in their political candidates, and if they don’t get it, they’ll vote for the incumbent.
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HH: He doesn’t have to do any of this stuff. You could retire. You could live at AEI with all the AEI people and enjoy the seminars, and give some speeches, and go up to Fox News. You don’t have to go to Iowa. You don’t have to go out to campaign for Tom Cotton or Ed Gillespie or any of the key…you could do all of that, you put your years in. How old you, 63?
HH: 65. Okay, so you’re 65. Why bother?
JB: Because I think the country is at a very critical point, and I think it’s been a series of issues accumulating over the years. I think it’s been exacerbated enormously by five years of Barack Obama, and just think we’ve got three years to go, three long years, that if we don’t pay attention to threats to American national security and deal with them, or at a minimum, have a public debate. I mean, I’m prepared to lose a public debate on national security issues. What I’m not prepared is to see the country slide beneath the waves internationally without having that debate. So I don’t consider it a burden. I think this is, I’ve been very fortunate in my career in this country. I think it’s the only country in the world where you can have the kind of life we lead, and…
HH: Where are you from, Mr. Ambassador?
JB: Well, I’m from Baltimore originally. My father was a firefighter for the city of Baltimore.
HH: So you don’t know anything about football, because it’s Colts and Ravens.
JB: Well, you know, I used to be a pro football fan, and then the Baltimore Colts were stolen to Indianapolis.
HH: I lived that life with the Browns. How about the Orioles? Are you a baseball fan?
JB: I’ve always been a baseball fan, yeah.
HH: Have you sold out and a Nationals fan now as well?
JB: No, I’m still an Orioles fan.
HH: Now Charles Krauthammer said last night on this program that the agreement with Iran is a “catastrophe.” That’s a big word. Do you agree?
JB: Yeah, well, I’ve got an article coming out in National Review in a few days that will say it may not yet be Munich, 1938, but it’s a close second. This was an unambiguous win, diplomatically, for Iran. On the nuclear side, they made minor and easily reversible concessions. And on the side of the sanctions, they won an enormous psychological victory. They’ve broken through the sanctions which are collapsing at a very rapid rate. So Iran is now, I think, almost inevitably on a path to nuclear weapons legitimately from the point of view of the West. We’ve allowed them, basically said they can enrich uranium. That is the long pole in the tent in any nuclear weapons program. And they’re now basically going to be free to do that. So I can’t imagine a worse outcome for the United States.
HH: Can you imagine Prime Minister Netanyahu allowing them to proceed along this path?
JB: You know, I don’t know what the Israelis are going to do. I think they’re late already in dealing with the Iranian nuclear weapons program. They allowed a reactor in Bushehr to go into operation fueled with nuclear fuel that in turn will produce plutonium for nuclear weapons in a few years. But twice before in its history, against Iraq in 1981, Syria in 2007, Israel has struck nuclear weapons programs in the hands of a hostile state, and if they don’t act soon, Iran will have nuclear weapons, and Israel will be in mortal danger.
HH: Can that regime be toppled? My radio pals, Frank Gaffney and Michael Ledeen, say all you have to do is assist the pro-democracy groups, and I’ve always thought that’s fairy dust, because they get murdered. Can that regime be toppled by other than force?
JB: I think it can be toppled by the Iranians themselves. It’s very unpopular inside. They’ve made a hash of the economy for thirty years. The hardships that they’ve been suffering recently are not just due to the economic sanctions. It’s a lesson never to let clerics run your economy. So I think there’s a lot of dissatisfaction there. The young people, 70% of the population is under 30. They know they can have a different kind of life than they have under this regime. They’re against it. And ethnically, the country is fragmented. Only 50% of it is Persian, ethnically. 30-40% Azeri, Arab, Baloch, there are a lot of ethnic tensions. Now those three sources of discontent don’t overlap entirely. But this regime is unpopular. The problem is, it has the guns, and it’s not just enough to be in favor of the democratic opposition. You have to consider what we would do to aid the people if they were to rise up.
HH: Now right now, a number of conservatives who are listening are getting twitchy, and will call their representative, Senator Paul, but there are actually a lot of them. Congressman Campbell, who frequently is my guest host, John Campbell, smart guy, believes the greatest national security threat is our debt, and they’re for retrenchment and for pulling back, and even to talk in terms of the Iranian regime’s stability and to talk in terms of Israel, they get all twitchy. What do you say to them?
JB: Well, the question that you have to face from a policy point of view is, is it worse to have an effective policy which may include the use of force against Iran’s nuclear program, or is it worse to allow Iran to get nuclear weapons? And I would say that there’s no comparison. Iran with nuclear weapons poses an existential threat to Israel, it poses a real threat to us in many respect. For example, if Iran has nuclear weapons and says to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and the other oil producing Arab monarchies cut your production by 50%, we’re sending international oil prices up. What are they going to do with a nuclear armed terrorist Iran on the other side of the Gulf? But it goes beyond that, because if Iran gets nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia will get nuclear weapons, Egypt will, Turkey will, perhaps others, and in a relatively short period of time, you’re going to have a nuclear, half a dozen nuclear weapon states in the Middle East. The United States cannot act as if the world is not going to change. And if we don’t protect ourselves, and our economy against these threats, then we’re not going to have the freedom that we have now. It goes both ways. You cannot divorce the economy and a strong American presence in the world. We need a strong economy to have a strong presence. But if we don’t have a strong presence, we’re not going to have a strong economy.
HH: I’m talking with Ambassador John Bolton. You can follow him on Twitter or go to www.boltonpac.com, which is linked at www.hughhewitt.com. I don’t want to be misunderstood when I say that Putin impresses me, because I think he’s a very bad man. But he’s also a very ruthless and effective bad man. Is any American up to dealing with that sort of character, with the folks running the PRC? Or did we produce a political class that is simply enfeebled, W. being quite a different kind of character. He wasn’t elected on that basis, but he turned out to be a Texan. What do you think?
JB: No, I think we have people who can deal with the Putins and in Russia and the Chinese leadership. None of them happen to be in the Obama administration. But it’s a question of whether you understand that advancing American interest is not only important for our country and our friends and allies, it actually creates what little peace and security there is in the world. And the problem with a withdrawing, declining America is that somebody else will fill the gap that we leave. Certainly true that a lot of other people are free riders, don’t pay their fair share, but we’re doing this for us.
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HRC: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest? Or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?
HH: Ambassador John Bolton on the Hugh Hewitt Show, when you hear that, what do you think?
JB: Well, I think it was the worst performance of Hillary Clinton’s entire tenure. And you know, it’s not just the what difference does it make point. She got the beginning wrong. It wasn’t guys out on a protest, and it wasn’t guys out taking a walk. It was a planned terrorist attack. And what difference it makes is that we are still at risk, our diplomats, our private citizens around the world are still at risk. And failure to take steps to protect them, to understand the nature of the threat, means that they will be at risk for as long as we remain inactive.
HH: Now Mr. Ambassador, you and Robert O’Brien came in, sat down, we started talking politics and I blew Radio 101, which is you always ought to assume the audience doesn’t have any clue who your guest is, whether or not it’s President Obama or Ambassador Bolton, or people have been around for a long time. So in the two minutes left, you were born in Baltimore. Just give us the biographical story if you would.
JB: Yeah, well, my father was a firefighter, my mother was a housewife. I got a scholarship to a school called McDonough, which is a prominent school in Baltimore. Then I got a scholarship to Yale, and I got a scholarship to Yale Law School. I practiced law, I went into the Reagan administration, stayed in the Bush administration, went to AEI in between, and then went back into the Bush administration. So I thought I’d be a lawyer all my life, and I’ve ended up working for the government, amazingly, for a big part of it.
HH: Married? Children?
JB: I was coming to that. My wife is a financial planner. I have one daughter who is just finishing business school at MIT and will go out into the world of work again. So it’s a small family, but a great one.
HH: Of all those years, and all those jobs, and how many different offices have you actually occupied in the federal government, both domestic and international branches?
JB: Four, five, six, seven, eight altogether.
HH: Eight different offices. What was the most interesting job?
JB: Well, I think the job at the U.N. was the most interesting because of the nature of the challenges, and the ability to see what goes on at the very top level of government. But they’ve all been fascinating. I’ll tell you, being able to serve the country in a senior government position is a real honor. And it’s a challenge to deal with the bureaucracy. It’s a challenge to deal with the opposition. The pay isn’t great. But in terms of serving the country, it’s a phenomenal honor.
HH: Did you understand Robert Gates when he wrote that sitting across from Congressional committees he would get angrier beyond belief at the lack of civility and seriousness?
JB: I didn’t get angry at them, because I tried to enjoy it as a game debating Joe Biden or John Kerry. I tell you, I loved every minute of it.
HH: What…and it’s not very fair. One more quick…BoltonPac is designed to do what?
JB: Well, it’s designed to help House and Senate candidates in the 2014 election who believe in a strong American national security posture, who have sound views on it, who can contribute to what I think is a critically important national debate on our future.
HH: So if people are concerned about that national security leg of the Ronald Reagan stool, www.boltonpac.com is a good place to park your money, large or small. There’s also a 527 if it’s large.
JB: A SuperPac, exactly.
HH: A SuperPac. Write John Bolton. Robert C. O’Brien from Arent Fox, thanks for bringing the Ambassador by. Ambassador John Bolton, come back.
End of interview.