John Bolton, one of Mitt Romney’s top foreign policy advisors, wrote another op-ed about Iran this week. In the past, Bolton has advocated U.S. military action to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, but has done so while shying away from the potential consequences. This time, however, he makes no policy recommendations for the United States. Instead, he implicitly advocates an Israeli strike on Iran while making a number of concerning statements along the way.
Bolton starts out by advising Israel to ignore President Obama’s statements on Iran, saying his commitment to stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons isn’t believable. It is one thing to debate Obama’s intentions vis-à-vis Iran as part of a domestic debate, but explicitly telling a foreign country to ignore the official position of the United States weakens our credibility.
Next, Bolton said Israeli President Shimon Peres sounded “surprisingly like an Obama surrogate” for expressing his opinion that Israel shouldn’t strike Iran unilaterally. Perhaps Peres’ statement is inconvenient for Bolton, but the president of a robust democracy expressing his views on one of the most intensely debated issues facing Israel today isn’t acting as an Obama surrogate, he’s participating in public discourse.
He ends his article by saying “The hard reality, therefore, is that Israel must make its own military decision, preferably one based on physics, not politics. Israel most likely still has time if it wishes to act independently, but there is no guarantee how long.”
This can only be read as an endorsement of an Israeli strike. It is clear that Bolton believes a military strike would be an effective way of halting Iran’s nuclear program (though much evidence exists to the contrary) but doesn’t believe Obama will follow through with his commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. So if the United States won’t use military force, he believes Israel should, even though he admits that an Israeli strike would “strain its capacity to the outer limits, [pose] substantial risks of heavy losses in the initial attack, and [raise] grave fears of Iranian retaliation, either directly or more likely through Hezbollah and Hamas.”
In essence, Bolton is advocating that a foreign country act against the wishes of the United States with little regard for the consequences such action would have on either the United States or Israel. The political opposition using foreign countries to circumvent the current administration is not a healthy precedent to set for U.S. foreign policy.