John Bolton in AEI Scholars column


On Environment: China falsely regulates pollution under Law of the Sea

The Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST)--was signed by the US in 1994 but never ratified by the Senate. With China emerging as a major power, ratifying the treaty now would encourage Sino-American strife, constrain US naval activities, and do nothing to resolve China's expansive maritime territorial claims.

At issue is China's intensified effort to keep America's military out of its "Exclusive Economic Zone," a LOST invention that affords coastal states control over economic activity in areas beyond their sovereign, 12-mile territorial seas out to 200 miles. LOST recognizes exclusive economic zones as international waters, but China is exploiting the treaty's ambiguities to declare "no go" zones in regions where centuries of state practice clearly permit unrestricted maritime activity.

Beijing also brazenly claims--exploiting Western green sensibilities--that US naval vessels pollute China's exclusive zone, pollution being an activity the treaty permits coastal states to regulate out to 24 miles.

Source: AEI Scholars column: Kill the Law of the Sea Sep 29, 2011

On Technology: Don't impede advances in space technology, even if military

Outer space has become the next frontier for American national security and business. From space, we follow terrorists and intercept their communications, detect foreign military deployments, and monitor a proliferation of unconventional weapons.

But instead of advancing American primacy in this realm, the Obama administration has wrongly decided not only to follow a European Union draft "code of conduct" regulating outer space, but also to circumvent the Senate's central constitutional role in making treaties.

Europe aspires to prevent an "arms race" in the heavens, but in reality, its code would substantially impede advances in space technology because such innovations could also be labeled as military. While security activities receive an exception, it appears confined to self-defense, a term often defined narrowly to include only cross-border attacks. We should not take the unnecessary risk that our rivals will exploit such ambiguity to prevent legitimate American actions.

Source: AEI Scholars column: Hands off the heavens Mar 9, 2012

On Foreign Policy: Support new sovereigntists against globalistas

Global governance, the next new thing in trendy international thought, has been typically portrayed as the nearly inevitable evolution upward from the primitive nation-state and its antiquated notions of constitutionalism and popular sovereignty. Not "world government," wildly unpopular among knuckle-draggers in America, but a rebranded alternative, more nuanced and sophisticated.

Fortunately, while globalista academics, their handmaidens in the political commentariat, leftist think tanks, and non-governmental organizations were hard at work, others, in the late '90s, were awakening to the consequences of all that buzz. Sometimes derided as "new sovereigntists" by the multilateralist chorus, these analysts and practitioners began examining both the precepts and the implications of the global-governance agenda.

Source: AEI Scholars column: Against the globalistas May 14, 2012

On Immigration: Assimilate immigrants: not embarrassed by Americanization

During the height of immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, our ancestors had no hesitancy in tossing millions of new arrivals straight into the melting pot, and no one was embarrassed by Americanization. Because the melting pot directly forms the shared values of citizens who see themselves as "We the People," when assimilation is disrupted or frustrated, the unifying bonds of citizenship are similarly weakened. These are critical issues regardless of one's views on the broader question of who should be let in and who excluded.
Source: AEI Scholars column: Against the globalistas May 14, 2012

On Budget & Economy: Cure for recession is increasing private-sector activity

The answer to austerity is not what its opponents like Obama and some G8 leaders suggest. When they speak of promoting growth, they are not advocating increased private-sector activity: more investment creating new wealth by adding value to material inputs, thereby generating more jobs and growing prosperity. Quite the opposite: they want to expand already enormous government sectors through even greater public spending. "Growth" to social democrats means growth in government's size and reach, not growth in the real economy. This approach directly contributed to our current predicament; and more of the same will only exacerbate it.

Unable to agree on substance, the G8, typically, advocated everything: both austerity and increased government stimulus measures. Such vague and contradictory rhetoric, unsupported by concrete actions, will achieve nothing but more confusion. The hard issues cannot be postponed indefinitely, and trying to do so only makes the ultimate outcome more painful.

Source: AEI Scholars column: Free lunch is finished May 23, 2012

On Gun Control: UN Arms Trade Treaty violates our Second Amendment freedoms

Gun-control advocates and the Obama administration are rushing to complete negotiations in New York on a proposed international agreement called the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.

But the United States already has a strong regulatory regime under the Arms Export Control Act to license the export of American-made weapons.

During the 2001 debate, I spoke at the UN General Assembly in New York, and the reaction to my remarks revealed the gun-controllers' hidden agenda.

I said merely that the United States would not agree to any proposed treaty that would violate our Second Amendment freedoms. From the gun-control lobby's reaction, you would have thought I said something outrageous or even dangerous. In truth, they knew we had uncovered their agenda and spiked it.

Source: AEI Scholars column: A sneaky way Jul 18, 2012

On Foreign Policy: We need a president who believes in American exceptionalism

Q: In a recent speech in Florida, you said, "The most important thing you need is a president who is proud of the United States of America, who believes in American exceptionalism." Can you explain why it's vital for a leader to appreciate that we do have a special, benevolent role to play?

A: Contrary to what its critics, including many in this country, say, American exceptionalism simply recognizes the reality of our distinct history. After all, a Frenchman, Alexis de Toqueville, first characterized us as "exceptional," and he didn't mean it entirely as a compliment! Obama once compared US exceptionalism to Britain & Greece, and he easily could have listed the other 190 UN members. If everyone is exceptional, no one is, leading almost inexorably to believe that the US has no special role to play internationally, even on its own behalf. It leads to a "come home, America" approach that inevitably weakens the US, its friends and allies, and the values and interests we should be advancing

Source: AEI Scholars column: 5 Questions Sep 11, 2012

On War & Peace: If you want peace, prepare for war

Q: Some critics shoot arrows at you for supposedly being too hawkish. This is the charge leveled at anyone who dares suggest that a superpower should use force to achieve an objective, no matter how dire the circumstance.

A: It is central to successful US foreign policy that we achieve the overwhelming preponderance of our key objectives diplomatically, without the use of force. But as the Romans said, "si vis pacem, para bellum": If you want peace, prepare for war. George Washington used the maxim in his first State of the Union address, and in our day, Ronald Reagan characterized his policy as "peace through strength." The point is clear. Unfortunately, too many mistake resolve for belligerence. President Obama, for example, acts as if American strength is provocative. This is exactly backwards. It is not our strength that is provocative, but our weakness, which simply emboldens our adversaries to take advantage of what they see as decline and retreat.

Source: AEI Scholars column: 5 Questions Sep 11, 2012

On Foreign Policy: US strength is not provocative, but restrains rogues

Unlike Reagan, Obama acts as if US strength is provocative, and that our actions cause the international misbehavior of others. In his worldview, if only America were less visible, less powerful, less 'offensive', others would be more restrained. In fact, the exact opposite is true. It is our weakness that is provocative, encouraging our adversaries to think we are distracted by domestic affairs, uninterested in the threats they pose, and unwilling or unable to do anything to stop them.

When that perception becomes widespread, we are truly in danger. Others calibrate their policies to take advantage of our weakness or inattentiveness, and act to our detriment and that of our friends, as has been happening these past three and a half years, as friend and foe alike around the world has taken Obama's measure. That is why Romney's return to a Reaganite foreign policy is so necessary for Washington and our allies.

Source: AEI Scholars column: Reaganite foreign policy Oct 10, 2012

On Foreign Policy: North Korea is unnatural relic of post-WWII deal; reunify it

First, Washington, Seoul and Tokyo should make it clear that they would do everything possible to prevent or mitigate a refugee crisis following the collapse of the North Korean state.

Second, the US doesn't need or want its military forces situated along the Yalu. The American objective, currently being implemented, is to have them near the peninsula's southern tip, available and mobile for use elsewhere in Asia & the Pacific.

North Korea is an unnatural relic of a "temporary" Moscow-Washington arrangement following Japan's defeat. It has no historical claim to legitimacy as a separate state. Its citizens have never freely consented to it. And its continued existence leaves 23 million people perennially close to starvation. North Korea cannot open and survive, as the regime itself well knows. But it almost has deliverable nuclear weapons. Persuading China to support reunification is the best answer. A reunification strategy should have been pressed decades ago, but better late than never.

Source: AEI Scholars column: North Korean threat Feb 20, 2013

On War & Peace: Iraq is better off now than under Saddam

Source: AEI Scholars column: Was the Iraq War worth fighting? Mar 19, 2013

On Gun Control: UN Arms Trade Treaty is end-run around Congress

On April 2, the United States led 154 nations to approve the Arms Trade Treaty in the U.N. General Assembly. The new treaty also demands domestic regulation of "small arms and light weapons." The treaty's Article 5 requires nations to "establish and maintain a national control system," including a "national control list." The treaty offers no guarantee for individual rights, but instead only declares it is "mindful" of the "legitimate trade and lawful ownership" of arms for "recreational, cultural, historical, and sporting activities." Not a word about the right to possess guns for a broader individual right of self-defense.

Gun-control advocates will use these provisions to argue that the US must enact measures such as a national gun registry, licenses for guns and ammunition sales, universal background checks, and even a ban of certain weapons. The treaty thus provides the Obama administration with an end-run around Congress to reach these gun-control holy grails.

Source: AEI Scholars column: Backdoor to gun control Apr 14, 2013

On Homeland Security: Publicizing US intelligence collection endangers lives

[NSA "WikiLeaks" leaker Edward] Snowden's second wave of leaks involved purported American cyber-intelligence activities globally and against China. Snowden claimed there were more than 61,000 US hacking operations globally, and implied the existence of numerous other activities to surveil and counter Beijing's growing cyber-warfare capabilities.

Publicizing America's alleged intelligence-collection programs against China may not be identical to Philip Agee revealing the identities of US clandestine operatives, thereby endangering their lives, but it is close. We do not yet know whether Snowden jeopardized US agents, but vital sources and methods of intelligence gathering and operations are clearly at risk. In cyber terms, this is akin to Benedict Arnold scheming to betray West Point's defenses to the British, thereby allowing them to seize a key American fortification, splitting the colonies geographically at a critical point during the American Revolution. The political implications are grave.

Source: AEI Scholars column: Snowden's leaks Jun 18, 2013

On War & Peace: Leaving Afghanistan is act of surrender in war on terror

Barack Obama's latest act of surrender in the war against terrorism comes in Afghanistan. Administration sources are leaking that Obama is considering withdrawing all American troops before Dec. 31, 2013, one year early, without leaving even a small, residual force in the country. Such a decision would simply accelerate an already badly misguided policy. Faster draw-downs in Afghanistan are bad enough but even worse is Obama's inability or unwillingness to see the inevitably broader adverse consequences.

According to polls, Americans are weary of the Afghan conflict, so Obama sees another chance to declare the war on terror over and also to score domestic political points. Americans are "war weary" about Afghanistan for specific reasons. As president, Obama has repeatedly insisted there was no rationale for a "war on terrorism" and that he will end the wars he inherited.

Source: AEI Scholars column: Staying in Afghanistan Jul 13, 2013

On Foreign Policy: International Criminal Court constrains U.S. freedom

Rather than seek discrete political, military, or trade agreements between individual nations, global governance aims to replicate the administrative state at the international level. Proponents of global governance urge vast delegations of authority to regulate domestic and world affairs to unaccountable international institutions; thus, the UN is responsible for international peace and security; and the International Criminal Court can prosecute anyone in the world for war crimes. These institutions will constrain US freedom of action by imposing international "norms" derived from consensus rather than respecting the decisions of constitutional democracy.

In 1986, Pres. Reagan wisely decided to block the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea because it creates an international authority with the right to tax private undersea mining. The Obama administration's efforts to convince the Senate to approve the agreement have proven unavailing.

Source: AEI Scholars column: Treaty by decree Aug 5, 2013

On Gun Control: No gun control via unwritten international law

This year, the Obama administration signed the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty to impose a "national control system" on "small arms and light weapons," even while its gun-control proposals floundered in Congress.

The attempt to advance gun control through the Arms Trade Treaty might surprise average Americans, but not liberals, who have long been frustrated by the Constitution's limits on government. Gun-control statutes, like any others, have to survive both the House and the Senate and then win presidential approval. It is far easier to advance an agenda through treaties, unwritten international law, and even "norms" delivered by the "international community."

Source: AEI Scholars column: Treaty by decree Aug 5, 2013

On Homeland Security: "Nuclear zero" leaves US with dangerously low level of nukes

The Cold War paradigm is no longer an adequate basis for determining strategic-weapons levels or deployments. Obama's massive cuts in America's already tattered nuclear umbrella, with more to come, are far more compelling proof of a failed strategy than is his airy and diaphanous notion of "nuclear zero."

In fact, the entire theory of "nuclear zero" adherents is that reductions by nuclear powers such as the US will induce others to follow suit and will dissuade non-nuclear states from seeking that capacity in the first instance. There is, of course, absolutely no evidence that the rulers in Tehran and Pyongyang will do anything other than ramp up their own efforts in the face of American decline.

Obama's last nuclear-reduction pact, the 2011 New START Treaty with Russia, cut the US nuclear arsenal to dangerously low levels, 750 strategic delivery systems and 1,550 warheads. It passed the Senate by a vote of 71-26, but only after breaking a filibuster with 67 votes, not one to spare.

Source: AEI Scholars column: Treaty by decree Aug 5, 2013

The above quotations are from American Enterprise Institute column publications.
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Page last updated: Feb 06, 2014