The following is video and my loose transcript of John Bolton’s CPAC 2012 speech. Bolton is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation. The topic is what a Reaganite Foreign Policy will look like if we get the White House back. Toward the end, Bolton tics off the major problems with Obama’s version of some kind of “foreign policy.”
A few pull-out quotes:
I don’t ever want America to be in a fair fight…
American strength is not provocative to our adversaries. American weakness is provocative to our adversaries and we’ve got a president who specializes in it…
Ironically, Obama’s view of America’s foreign policy is not that different from some in the Republican Party who complain that we’re always bombing other countries. Ladies and Gentlemen, that is the view of the San Francisco Democrats. They always blame America first…
…last week Defense Secretary Panetta came out and said he thought Israel could well attack Iran, attack the nuclear weapons program in April, May or June. This may be the first time in American history that we have revealed an ally’s battle plan to the enemy. What does he think he’s doing? I will tell you. They think they have failed to pressure Israel privately, and now they are going to pressure them publicly.
Begin my loose, partial transcript (I left out the excellent introduction):
I want to talk a little bit today about what a Reaganite foreign policy would look like in the happy event that we defeat Barack Obama this November. You know there are a lot of similarities between 1980 when Reagan was elected and 2012. In 1980, Jimmy Carter was President and said that the American people suffered from a great malaise. In fact, Ronald Reagan showed that the only malaise we suffered from was Jimmy Carter. Today we have a President in Barack Obama who thinks that, unfortunately for him, the American people are just not as smart as he is. Although he has had some successes he has single-handedly made narcissism a household word. In November, we will hand Barack Obama one of those teachable moments he is always talking about.
In that event, let’s talk about what a Reaganite foreign policy would like. It’s a measure of how far we have come that I even have to say this, but at the absolute center of Reagan’s philosophy and national security policy was this: Ronald Reagan was proud to be an American, and so was Nancy. And so was his pastor. Contrast it to Barack Obama, our first post-American President who doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism, although he says that he does – you know, probably about as much as he believes in freedom of religion. Can you imagine Barack Obama calling America, as Ronald Reagan did, a shining city on a hill? I don’t think so.
Also key for Reagan is, he believed in American sovereignty. This was not a case in his administration, when U.S. foreign policy was made at the United Nations.
By contrast you have an America today, where the Left is constantly calling for pooling or sharing sovereignty. That means diminishing our Constitution. Obama tried to do it domestically. He tried to do it internationally, as well, through agreements on the environment, through the Law of the Sea Treaty, through a variety of things like the Armed Trades Treaty and a whole host of issues we would other wise consider domestic.
I think long and hard about the consequences for our Constitution and American sovereignty if Barack Obama gets another four years.
Reagan’s view was summed up in the phrase, Peace through Strength. He understood the relationship between the American economy and the world as a whole. He understood that we needed to have a strong domestic economy, to have a strong international position, and he knew that without American strength in the world, you couldn’t have sustained economic prosperity at home. You can’t distinguish the two. You can’t ignore national security, like Barack Obama does, except when he has no choice – more interested in making America a European-style social democracy than worried about our interests overseas.
Jean Kirkpatrick understood this relationship entirely, and in her famous 1984 speech to the Republican National Convention, when she talked, you’ll remember about the San Francisco Democrats, she wasn’t talking about one in particular, she was talking about the whole Democratic Party because that’s where they held their convention, and Jean said then, when the San Franciscan Democrats treat foreign affairs as an after thought, as they did, they became less like a dove or a hawk and more like an ostrich, convinced it would shut out the world by hiding it’s head in the sand. Same problem we face today.
Now Reagan understood fundamentally what the principle responsibility of the U.S. Government was, and where did he take this text? From Adam Smith the great philosopher of Free Markets and Capitalism and individual freedom. This is what Adam Smith said in the Wealth of Nations:
The first duty of the sovereign is protecting society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies, which can be performed only by military force.
Reagan himself said in 1982, the top priority of the Federal Government…the top priority, is the safety of this country. Reagan said to Cap Weinberger, his Defense Secretary, defense is more than a budget line item, and indeed it was.
He understood in an age, especially of weapons of mass destruction, as he said, yes the cost is high, but the price of neglect would be infinitely higher.
So as we look today at Obama’s devastating budget cuts, you can see that if the next President wants to have a Reaganite foreign policy, he has an enormous task ahead. Obama’s cuts, over $1.5 TRILLION – we now have, in contrast to what Reagan tried to have, a 600-ship Navy, we have a 285-ship Navy, the lowest since 1916, and the number is going down. Even as recently as 2010, an independent review panel said we needed at least 346 ships. We are no where close to that, and we are going in the wrong direction. Every other one of the services will suffer comparably.
I think this is posing risks for American that we can’t ever foretell. Whatever the budget costs…you know, people say our budget is so much larger than everybody else’s. True. And you know what? I don’t ever want America to be in a fair fight. The best war is the war that’s never fought and the way to avoid fighting war is to have such strength, that nobody even thinks about challenging us. That day is disappearing.
Reagan also understood the defense from the national homeland perspective. That’s why he championed his strategic defense initiative. That’s why he favored missile defense for us, for American civilians. It is only in the perverse world of arms control, that missile defense is just as evil as offensive nuclear capabilities.
They want to do arms control with our adversaries. Sure. You can bank on that can’t you?
Reagan understood that defense for the American people is an honorable task. He said to this CPAC in 1985, strategic defense initiative is our arms control. Obama has cut missile defense. The next President needs to remember Ronald Reagan and restore it.
Reagan was the author of what we call The Reagan Doctrine. Aiding the enemies of our enemies. Reagan said in a 1979 radio broadcast about Soviet dissidents, he said “Let our State Department take heed. A little less detente with the Politburo, and more encouragement to the dissidents, might be worth a lot of armored divisions.
You know, you could say that about Russia today. You could say it in Iran as well. You could say it against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Obama administration – not doing anything serious there. They’ve completely forgotten the Reagan Doctrine.
And worst of all, the administration has forgotten the essence of Reagan’s understanding that American strength is not provocative to our adversaries. American weakness is provocative to our adversaries and we’ve got a president who specializes in it.
Ironically, Obama’s view of America’s foreign policy is not that different from some in the Republican Party who complain that we’re always bombing other countries. Ladies and Gentlemen, that is the view of the San Francisco Democrats. They always blame America first.
Our desire to protect ourselves and our friends and allies like Israel, is not provocative, especially when we face asymmetric threats from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in the hands of rogue states and terrorists.
Let’s just take a lightening round of Obama administration failures, which the next President will have to face. A real lightening round would take about 12 hours so you’ll forgive me if I cut short here a bit. But look at what this foreign policy President has brought us:
►With Russia pressing the famous reset button. We gave the Russians what they wanted. We gave them a new start arms control treaty that limits us, while allowing them to build up their declining nuclear forces.
►We cancelled missile defense bases and assets in the Czech Republic and Poland. What did we get in return? We got Russia flying political cover in the U.N. Security Council for Iran’s nuclear weapons program. We got Russia, last Saturday, vetoing the anti-Assad resolution about Syria. We got Russia upgrading it’s conventional forces and using its oil and gas as weapons against Europe, so much for pressing the reset button.
►In China we’ve got a country making belligerent territorial claims in the East and South China Sea. The risk of aggressive moves toward Taiwan. A country developing area denial and anti-access weapons to push the United States Navy back from the East Asian Coast. A country building submarine and blue water naval capabilities for the first time in its history, and increasing and modernizing its conventional and its nuclear ballistic missile forces, and if that’s not enough, a China with the most aggressive cyber-warfare capabilities of any country in the world.
►What are we doing about Russia and China? Zip. Zip. That’s what our foreign policy is with respect to these two great strategic adversaries.
►On what is probably the most immediate threat to the United States and its friends around the world, is the threat of nuclear proliferation. The record of the Obama administration has been nothing but failure.
►Let’s be clear, one of Reagan’s worse failures was his belief that he could negotiate with the Mullahs in Tehran over the American hostages they had taken in Lebanon and elsewhere. He found it didn’t work, and he recovered from it and moved on. It’s all the more inexcusable that the Obama administration has not learned from our own history, still thinks it can negotiate with the Mullahs, still thinks it can talk them out of their nuclear weapons program, all the while the centrifuges are turning and Iran is enriching uranium. This is a proximate threat right now to the United States, to Israel, to our Arab friends in the region, and worldwide.
What is the Obama administration doing? Just in the past few weeks, Defense Secretary Panetta has said that Iran could have a nuclear weapon within a year. That’s their official position now. I think it could actually be less. You know it has been three years since Obama took the oath of office and during that time, what has happened is that Iran has made three years of progress, bringing them as close as they are now.
►In remarkably underreported testimony last week, the director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in response to a direct question from Senator Coates of Indiana, said the following referring to the economic sanctions agains Iran:
The sanctions as imposed so far has not caused them to change their behavior or their policy. So all of this spin and hype about the effect of the sanctions that you hear from the White House, their own Director of National Intelligence has told us is not true, and he’s right for a change. It’s not affecting Iran’s nuclear program.
►Now we know that for three years the administration has pressured Israel mercilessly not to use force against Iran’s program, and last week Defense Secretary Panetta came out and said he thought Israel could well attack Iran, attack the nuclear weapons program in April, May or June. This may be the first time in American history that we have revealed an ally’s battle plan to the enemy. What does he think he’s doing? I will tell you. They think they have failed to pressure Israel privately, and now they are going to pressure them publicly.
And they did it again when unnamed White House aides said that it was the Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence Agency that was assassinating Israeli nuclear scientists. This is unbelievable. Unbelievable! But I think what this shows is the mask is off the Obama administration. Obama fears an Israeli strike more than he fears an Iranian nuclear weapon.
If you want to know how to treat an ally, watch how Obama treats Israel and then do exactly the opposite.
And let’s be clear, the foreign policy president says, but we killed Osama bin Laden. That was a success ten years in the making, and basically what Obama did was get out of the way. It was decision that 99.9 percent of the American people would agree with. that does not equal a foreign policy.
So let’s take a look at the score here. In eight years as President, Ronald Reagan brought us to the brink of victory in the cold war – the 20th century’s third world war. By contrast, in just three years Barack Obama has brought us to the brink of an Iranian weapons capability, dangerous proliferation world-wide, dramatic insecurity and instability in the Middle East, growing threats to Israel and paralyzing reductions in our defense and intelligence budgets.
Just in case he hasn’t gotten the point, let me make it clear, President Obama, you are no Ronald Reagan.
In November, with the united support of everyone here, and everyone watching, we can and we must replace the Obama policy of drift, decline and defeatism with a Reaganite foreign policy. Our country can survive with nothing less.
If the video disappears or does not work, view it at Right Scoop.
Other CPAC 2012 Speech Videos and Transcripts:
John Bolton CPAC 2012 (video)