On Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton discussed the significance of President Trump’s apparent openness to a “one-state” rather than “two-state” solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“For basically the past 70 years, everybody on the Left, around the world, has insisted the only possible solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict, and specifically with the Palestinians, is the creation of a Palestinian state,” Bolton explained. “We’ve got Israel, and then you have a state called Palestine. Now, I won’t get into the extraordinarily complicated history of this. Some would say that when the British split their mandate and created Jordan, that was a Palestinian state.”
“But leaving all that aside, the fact is there’s nobody on the Palestinian side for the Israelis to negotiate with, other than terrorists like Hamas,” he continued. “There’s no guarantee that a Palestinian authority could keep up a state that wasn’t a home for terrorists. And there’s, frankly, no prospect in the near term that a Palestinian state would do anything for its own people, that it could simply not be economically viable.”
“The idea of a one-state solution comes in a variety of forms, but it absolutely violates the near-religious theological doctrine that there must be a Palestinian state. So for Trump to say, ‘I could live with a two-state solution, I could live with a one-state solution’ blows up about 70 years of orthodoxy,” he said.
“Of all the disruptive things he’s done in Washington in just one month, that could be the most disruptive of all,” Bolton proclaimed. “It just sends a signal all around the world that really the persecution of Israel that we’ve seen, unfortunately, in many European countries, in the U.N. for sure, is going to meet some fierce resistance from this president.”
SiriusXM host Lee Stranahan wondered if Trump signaled a willingness to accept a one-state solution as a negotiating tactic – a means of prodding the Palestinian leadership into pursuing more realistic goals.
“It’s possible,” Bolton replied. “And he did say, ‘Look, I could live with a two-state solution if the parties agree to it.’ That part – that ultimately peace in the Middle East has to come from an agreement between the parties to the conflict; it cannot be imposed from the outside – is critical. It happens to be accurate. That’s how Camp David occurred in 1979, the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. It’s how peace was reached between Israel and Jordan.”
“The two-state solution really is an outside imposition on Israel, based in the view of many. So he’s really saying, ‘I’m going to leave it to the parties.’ If they were to come up with a two-state solution – in other words, as you suggest, if the Palestinians got politically accountable, democratically elected leadership, foreswore terrorism, accepted the existence of Israel as a state, and were prepared to negotiate boundaries that would give Israel security – yeah, it’s possible. I think it’s unlikely,” he said.
“There’s an old saying: putting the cat among the pigeons. Boy, I’m telling you, the cat’s among the pigeons today,” Bolton remarked.
Stranahan asked for Bolton’s grade on the Trump administration’s handling of saber-rattling from Iran and North Korea.
“I think when Prime Minister Abe of Japan was with the president, the North Koreans, as you say their act of provocation was firing a medium-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. Abe said that’s unacceptable. Trump said we’re 100 percent behind our ally Japan. I think he could have gone beyond that. He could have talked about South Korea. He could have talked about the threat to us, frankly,” Bolton said.
“But I think it was a pretty clear signal. Secretary of Defense Mattis was just in the region, visited Japan and South Korea, very clear about our opposition to the North Koreans. So the rhetoric, all very good, but we’ve got to get the specifics. We’ve got to pressure China in ways that we haven’t under Obama, even under the prior Bush administration. I think this is a huge threat because it’s not only North Korea’s capacity to deliver a ballistic missile to the West Coast of the United States with a nuclear warhead, possibly in the next few years, according to our own military commanders in South Korea – but they’re cooperation with Iran on missiles and likely on nuclear programs, as well,” he warned.
“The first thing that has to be dealt with, with Iran, is this wretched nuclear deal that Obama cut with them,” Bolton argued. “Before he was fired, Mike Flynn went out – I think the president’s instruction – and said he was putting Iran on notice that their ballistic missile testing was unacceptable. We’re going to have to come to a decision very soon, I wish we had done it already, to junk the Obama nuclear deal with Iran, which I don’t think the ayatollahs are complying with to begin with. I’m sure in the conversations between Trump and Netanyahu yesterday, how to deal with Iran was right at the top of the agenda, as it should be.”
Bolton judged that President Trump is “doing fine on national security matters.”
“He’s doing even better than that, frankly, on domestic matters,” he added. “But the Left is engaged in collective hysteria. I had an article in the Daily Telegraph in London on Tuesday – I should have published it in the United States! – to say there’s no basis for this hysteria, let alone the drive by the New York Times and the Washington Post and others to convict half of the administration for cooperating with Russia in hacking the 2016 election, which I think is their objective.”
“There’s no evidence of any of that activity. I think the New York Times admitted as much yesterday,” he pointed out. “But you’ve got people absolutely going over the moon about how dangerous this is. What is the purpose of all this hysteria about the so-called cooperation with Russia, the hysteria about foreign policy, the hysteria about the cabinet nominees. The purpose of the hysteria is just to make people hysterical. It’s like shaking a tree to see what else will fall out of it.”
“They don’t have anything else. They’re not making substantive arguments. They’re looking for embarrassments and mistakes that they can then use to pillory the administration. We’re in a period of maximum turbulence, only one month into the administration. It’s really pretty unprecedented,” he argued.
“I think it requires everybody in the White House – just the slogan the British had in World War II: ‘Keep Calm and Carry On.’ That’s what they need to do. Don’t get distracted by all of this. Just keep your eye on the prize and keep moving,” Bolton advised.
Stranahan asked Bolton for his assessment of the threat Russia poses to the United States today.
“I think you have to look at this not as to whether today the Russians are going to attack us, or even tomorrow, but what the long-term geopolitical risks are from a Russia under an authoritarian state – rebuilding its military, enhancing its ballistic missiles, adding to its arsenal of nuclear weapons, crossing international boundaries in Europe with military force, annexing part of the Ukraine, threatening other Eastern and Central European countries, increasing its influence in the Middle East, and cooperating with China” was Bolton’s highly detailed reply.
He gave an example of the latter concern: Russia’s conducting naval maneuvers with China in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“Is that behavior threatening to the United States over the long term? Yes,” he said. “The essence of statesmanship is not waiting around for a threat to be existential. It’s preventing the threat from developing to that point early on. So I do think Russia’s a problem, and I think it needs to be dealt with very strongly.”
Bolton said such a strong response would cover “the Ukraine sanctions and what to do about NATO and how to handle Russia in the Middle East because they are very extensively involved in a variety of theaters.”
“The notion that somehow the Russians have become benign is just wrong,” he declared. “They went through a period of democracy in the 1990s. They struggled with it. They’ve moved out of democracy, back into authoritarianism. This is an object lesson that history doesn’t always move in a forward-looking direction. We’ve got to deal with that. It’s not an ideological threat, but it is a classic nineteenth century power whose interests are widely different from those of the United States.”
Stranahan followed up by asking if the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton State Department had ‘created opportunities for Russia to become even more of a threat.’
“Absolutely,” said Bolton. “They wanted to press the famous ‘reset button.’ They thought the problems with Russia had been caused by the Bush administration. The Russians took advantage of them repeatedly by getting us to dismantle our national missile defense capabilities on Poland and the Czech Republic, agreeing to the so-called New START arms control treaty – a really terrible agreement from the U.S. point of view – and on and on and on.”
“They took advantage of Obama’s weakness. They did it for eight straight years,” he charged. “And the big advantage of the Trump presidency is, I think, he’s demonstrated, just in the first four weeks, is that he projects a strong America. That will get Putin’s attention. We actually have a better opportunity to form a cooperative relationship with Russia, at least on a few issues, because they perceive America now has a strong leader, rather than a weak one like Obama.”
John Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and presides over his own political action committee, BoltonPAC.
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