President Barack Obama has no alternative plan should the agreement between the U.S. and Russia over destroying Syria's chemical weapons fail, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton tells Newsmax TV.
"That's really the problem," Bolton, a senior fellow with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. "They've been lurching from one solution to another. It's been a very ad hoc policy, with no long-term strategy and with no one really thinking through the consequences of what they've done.
"Lots of people have observed this flip-flop: 'Do I go to Congress? Do I not go to Congress? Do I go to the U.N. Security Council? Do I not? Do I use force? Do I not use force?' It's that weakness and indecisiveness that our friends and adversaries around the world can see and take advantage of.
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"The administration's lack of compass in Syria is certainly going to have negative implications in the Middle East, but I'm afraid the negative implications go worldwide," Bolton adds. "Everyone watches what an American president does — and I'm sad to say, but this performance has been a debacle."
Despite the weekend agreement, the United States and Russia remained at loggerheads on Wednesday, as Moscow said President Bashar al-Assad's regime provided new evidence implicating rebel forces in the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus.
President Obama said it was "inconceivable" that anyone other than Assad's forces could have carried out the attack, but Russia defiantly kept to its past suspicions that the rebels could be to blame.
The White House has said that more than 1,400 Syrians, including over 400 children, died in the attacks.
Regardless of who may be responsible for setting off the chemical weapons, Bolton tells Newsmax that the United States should not be further arming the rebels. After months of delay, the CIA last week began delivering weapons to the rebels, aid that had been promised by the Obama administration.
"There's certainly some rebels who would support Western values, but there are a lot who would not. Many of them are terrorist supporters of al-Qaida, but even those who are not outright terrorists, many of them are supporters of the Syrian equivalent of the Muslim Brotherhood.
"Given the experience of a Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, I just don't think it's in America's interest to put a Muslim Brotherhood equivalent government into power in Syria, let alone to promote the risk that the terrorists themselves might take over," Bolton says.
"This is a consequence of an administration that's really taken its eye off the real strategic issue in the Middle East which, despite the tragedy we're seeing in Syria, the real strategic threat to the United States has been — from the get-go — Iran and its nuclear weapons program. That's something the administration, I don't think, has ever fully understood."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told NBC News on Wednesday that his administration would never develop nuclear weapons and that he had full authority to make a deal with the West on the disputed atomic program.
The interview was Rouhani's first with a U.S. news outlet since his election in June. He is to address the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday in New York.
But Bolton tells Newsmax that Rouhani's sole reason for wanting to negotiate with the U.S. on the nuclear issue is to win relief from the longstanding economic sanctions on his country — something that he could win because of the White House's inexperience on Middle Eastern issues.
"The naïveté of the Obama administration is going to play into the hands of Rouhani," he says. "There's no evidence whatsoever that these so-called moderates want to divert the course of Iran's nuclear weapons program, which is drawing closer and closer and closer to crossing the finish line and actually getting nuclear weapons.
"Let's not forget the real control over security for Iran lies in Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He's the supreme leader, and that is where control over the nuclear weapons program exists."
"We're about to see the Obama administration, Europe taken for a ride here by the Iranians — and we can see an agreement that turns out to be very unfortunate, very negative from the U.S. point of view, basically legitimizing Iran's continuing effort to get nuclear-weapons capability and lifting the sanctions that actually take pressure off the Iranian regime."
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