Bolton: Egypt Unrest Shows Obama's Inadequate Foreign Policy

Wednesday, 03 Jul 2013 03:01 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The thunderous civil unrest in Egypt is partially due to the Obama administration's inadequate foreign policy, according to John Bolton, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

"I'd like to talk about the Obama foreign policy, [but] I don't think he has one. It's completely incoherent. I don't think he pays enough attention," Bolton told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

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"He thinks he can do foreign policy … on the spur of the moment and the series of ad hoc decisions he's made with respect to Egypt show that not only does that not work, but it doesn't get through to him that he's got a problem."

Bolton pointed to the president's condemnation of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek two years ago, which led to the election of Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government.

"Before coming out unequivocally for Mubarak to step down in about a 30-day period, the administration had four different positions," Bolton said.

"So they confused everybody and didn’t' get the support of the opponents to Mubarak they wanted because nobody could figure out what the position was. We're in a very similar place right now and, ultimately, that's going to rebound to our detriment."

On Wednesday, Morsi's national security adviser said a coup was underway after the president again refused to heed demands by the military to resign. He also called on the army not to "take sides."

Bolton — now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a U.S. policy think-tank —believes the Egyptian Army is reluctant to confront Morsi's Muslim forces.

"The military, really in my view, is not happy about having to intervene but they can see unless something happens, instability is just going to continue," he said.

"So you have a lot of confusion, divisions among the different political factions but tensions and emotions very high. This could get very ugly quickly, unfortunately."

With America giving the Egyptian military $1 billion in aid a year, the U.S. government should have "considerable influence" in the actions they take, Bolton believes.

"But even in just his 12 months in power, Mohammed Morsi has tried to stack the military with officers friendly to the Muslim Brotherhood and we'll soon see whether he's had much success or not," Bolton said.

"It doesn't appear that he has so far, but trying to analyze what U.S. policy should be has to start with what we think American interests are. Trying to get into the complexities of Egyptian politics is not very productive from my points of view."

Bolton said the crowds demonstrating against the Morsi government in Cairo's Tahrir Square, believe Obama is on Morsi's side.

"That's based on remarks our ambassador in Egypt has made and so it's a fine irony that having helped push Mubarak out of office now we're accused of defending the next authoritarian leader," he said.

"America's interests are, number one, making sure that Egypt under whatever government continues to uphold the Camp David peace accords with Israel, that's a foundation stone of our policy within the Middle East, and number two, that again whatever government is in control keeps the Suez Canal open."

Regarding the Edward Snowden case, in which the fugitive secrets-leaker is attempting to leave Russia, Bolton believes the 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor is fast becoming a lone wolf that no nation wants.

"Snowden is becoming a man without a country, which doesn’t bother me at all given what he's done," Bolton said.

"This whole leak about [possible spying on] the European Union shows the anti-American nature of the WikiLeaks people who have surrounded Snowden and maybe were working with him even before the first publication of his information.

"If you asked most Americans, what do you think about conducting espionage against the European Union, they'd say fine, what's the problem? What could be wrong with that? It was intended."


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You can listen to the Steve Malzberg Show each weekday live from 3-6 PM ET on SiriusXM 244.


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