John Bolton is seemingly unafraid of controversy. An outspoken conservative Republican and arguably the most vehement critic of the United Nations since the days of the late former ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, he was appointed by President Bush as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in August 2005 in a recess appointment after a partisan debate killed his nomination.
Bolton left the post 17 months later because he said that he "didn't like the direction of our policy on too many issues, particularly Iran, North Korea and the Arab-Israeli conflict."
His new book, Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad, offers an insider's view of how foreign policy was made in the Bush administration. The former ambassador hopes that it will "give people a sense of what actually happens at the State Department, in Washington and at the United Nations."
Bolton, currently a senior fellow with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., will discuss his new book on Monday, Jan. 28, at a 6:30 p.m. lecture and book-signing event sponsored by the Israel Advocacy Task Force of the Center for Israel and Overseas of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and the Zionist Organization of America, in cooperation with a number of community partners.
The free program will be held at the Harrison Auditorium of the University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, 33rd and Spruce streets, and is open to all with advance registration.
In his memoir, Bolton shares insights into such international crises as North Korea's nuclear test, Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, the genocide in Darfur, and the monthlong negotiation led to a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hezbollah in the summer of 2005.
Bolton believes the U.N. Security Council is "working itself into irrelevancy" in waging a global war on terror.
In fact, he expressed frustration with the Council's response to the Sept. 6, 2006 attack by Israeli warplanes inside Syria against a purported nuclear-related facility that North Korea was helping to equip. He maintains that North Korea is the world's largest proliferator of nuclear technology, and that it is the role of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to challenge and inspect North Korea's nuclear program.
Of particular concern to Bolton is the cooperation between the two nations in sharing nuclear technology. He writes that China and Russia — both permanent members of the Security Council — are providing cover for these rogue nations to develop nuclear capability.
Bolton also asserts that China should exert pressure on North Korea to reunite with South Korea: "The nuclear problem will never be resolved here until there is reunification."
The former ambassador further maintains that the only hope to end the threat of Iran developing nuclear weapons is a change in regime in Tehran.
"Britain, France and Germany have tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with Iran for years over this issue," says Bolton, adding that a more effective strategy would be to "support Iran's young people and ethnic groups, who are dissatisfied with the current oppressive reign of the mullahs, and assist their efforts to overthrow the government."
A staunch advocate of Israel, Bolton served as Assistant Secretary of State in the early 1990s.
During that time, he was the principal architect of the U.S.-led effort to overturn the controversial 1975 U.N. General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism.
He believes that U.N. Resolution 1701, which called for an end to the violence and destruction in southern Lebanon in the July 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, was not in Israel's best interests. He writes that the resolution, which was hailed by the former Assistant Secretary of State David Welch as "very important for U.S. foreign policy in the region and for the credibility of U.N. peacekeeping," created a situation in which "it became increasingly clear that there was not going to be another resolution to disarm Hezbollah, that the arms embargo was not being enforced, and that Hezbollah was rearming."
In his book, Bolton's asserts that U.S. policy toward Israel must respect that "because of its location, Israel experiences the security threat almost daily, facing Hamas, Hezbollah and other Islamic terrorist groups, not to mention being within range of Iranian missiles."
He sums up the situation by noting that "Hamas has seized control of the Gaza Strip, fracturing the Palestinian Authority, leaving the 'former terrorists' of Fatah in control of the West Bank; Hezbollah close to overthrowing Lebanon's democratic government; and Syria increasingly under Iran's control."
He does not share President Bush's optimism in the aftermath of November's Annapolis conference that a Middle East peace treaty would be completed by the time he leaves office.
"Given the reality of the current climate in this region, there is no rationale for the United States to pressure Israel into 'peace agreements' with its remaining Arab neighbors, or to believe that 'dialogue' on such issues will have any material effect on the Middle East's numerous other conflicts," writes Bolton. He adds that "Israel's own government for its own reasons may decide to make concessions in various negotiations and bear the consequences, but the United States has no interest in precipitating such decisions."
Bolton is watching the 2008 U.S. presidential race with an eye toward the candidates' positions on national security. In a recent speech at the American Enterprise Institute, he said that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is "the single most important threat that we face," and cautioned that the next American president must take a strong stance against "our nation's foreign enemies."
"If we make the wrong decision in 2008 — just as if we had made the wrong decision in 2001 — it's our security and our safety that will suffer, and our future that will be in jeopardy."
Participating groups in the Jan. 28 program include ADL; AIPAC; The Chevra; Hillel of Greater Philadelphia; Israel Bonds; the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia; Jewish Heritage Programs; The Maimonides Leaders Fellowship; the Middle East Forum; the Middle East Forum Club at Penn; Penn College Republicans; Penn Israel Coalition and the Republican Jewish Coalition.
To attend, call Lynne Hernandez at 215-832-0537 or e-mail her at: [email protected]