Political Notebook

Former U.N. Ambassador Bolton tells Fresno Co. GOP of theats from ISIS, Iran

Conservative Republican and former diplomat John Bolton says ISIS is a radical, aggressive terrorist organization that needs to be completely destroyed as soon as possible. It’s a job, he says, that can’t be done without greater U.S. involvement.

“I don’t think we’ve dealt with them very effectively,” he said Wednesday ahead of an address to Fresno County Republicans in Clovis, “and I think that’s demonstrated by their continuing consolidation of power over territory in Syria and Iraq, their growing strength across North Africa and throughout the Middle East, the growing number of adherents that are flocking to ISIS.”

The threat is growing and the only solution is the return of American troops to the Middle East, said Bolton, a foreign policy expert who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for 16 months during President George W. Bush’s second term. The Turks, Kurds and Arab nations can’t do it alone, he added.

“It’s not a pleasant thing for anybody to hear, but they require American leadership and they’re going to require more American forces,” he said in an interview. “I think the Arab states, the Kurds and the Turks ought to have the predominant role there in the region, but they want to see us there beside them… the sooner we destroy ISIS, the greater the likelihood we can remove the terrorist threat it represents.”

Even with that dire assessment, which Bolton delivered to a packed house at the Fresno County Republican Party’s 2015 Lincoln-Reagan Dinner, he doesn’t think ISIS is the world’s biggest threat.

“I still think Iran’s nuclear weapons program is the top issue in the world and it’s getting close to fruition, which would be very dangerous for all of us,” he said.

Not surprisingly, Bolton said President Barack Obama’s administration has failed to deal with either issue effectively.

“I think we have an incoherent foreign policy and I think it’s at odds with itself,” he said. “It is internally contradictory. I think we’re being left in the worst of all worlds. Iran’s nuclear threat is growing, ISIS is growing, the threat of terrorism worldwide is growing.”

Dealing with the problem is going to require leadership, and Bolton said that will be a key test of the Republicans who are seeking the 2015 presidential nomination. He said the nation will be watching as they assess which Republican hopeful will best handle the crisis.

Bolton, at this point, is endorsement none of the group, which could reach a dozen or more viable candidates.

“I’m prepared to help all of them,” Bolton said.