Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said President Barack Obama's address to the U.N. was "unprecedented" and "unpresidential" as he sought to distance himself from the previous administration.
In an interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly immediately following Obama’s speech, Kelly cited Obama's statement that Iran and North Korea must be "held accountable" and “the world must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise and that treaties will be enforced. We must insist that the future does not belong to fear."
Kelly asked: "Does that advance the ball?"
"I don’t think so," Bolton responded.
"I think that is exactly the problem that the Security Council of the United Nations has not been able to address effectively with respect to Iran and North Korea’s proliferation activities.
"So to me that was a real example, citing international law of all things, of how the U.N. has failed in the past. I think that really what the president is hoping for is that because he is Barack Obama, he asked explicitly for the other nations to join with him.
"I don’t think that’s going to change anything, but that reflects the very basic view that his accession to the presidency alone changes America’s perception in the world and therefore should change others’ policies. It hasn’t happened in eight months. We’ll see what happens now."
Obama's speech included the remark: "I took office when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and mistrust," Kelly noted.
"I have never seen an American president give a speech at the United Nations that spent so much time contrasting his administration with the previous administration," Bolton observed.
"Obviously a president talks about his own policies and how he sees America’s role in the world. But this was a speech almost more designed for an American audience than an international audience, hoping to play on the aspect that he is not George Bush. I was struck by how personal it was, and I must say how unpresidential."
Obama also stated: "Democracy cannot be imposed on any nation from the outside...America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy."
Bolton commented: "As I said, a president is going to advocate his own policies. But these repeated efforts by the president in this speech to say implicitly, I am not George Bush, is I think unprecedented.
"And I think it’s carrying an American political debate, which is legitimate to have, into the international arena. That is particularly what I find unpresidential."
Bolton also said that in his address Obama "put Israel on the chopping block. I don’t think there’s ever been a speech by an American president, let alone one at the United Nations, that was so critical of Israel."
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