Bolton, who also said it’s time another body replace the United Nations, told the Sunday Times of London the Arab-Israeli conflict was “not a priority,” adding: “I don’t see linkage to Iraq, and Hamas and Fatah are in a state of civil war.”
“I wouldn’t have engaged in negotiations with Iran in the first place,” he told the paper, in a nod to Britain, France and Germany, nations that have made contact with Tehran. “The policy has failed. Sanctions won’t stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”
Regime change, he said is “preferable” to a U.S. attack on Iran’s nuclear sites, though “the only course worse than the use of force is an Iran with nuclear weapons.”
“President Bush has said it is unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons and he will not accept it,” Bolton said.
“There are all kinds of ways to change the regime,” he said, mentioning covert and overt means to topple the government. “We have an extensive diaspora of people with Iranian heritage in America who we don’t use effectively.”
“Fifteen years ago people said NATO would either go out of area or out of existence and now it is in Afghanistan and it is all but NATO — absent Germany and France — in Iraq,” he said. “I think NATO should go global. There is no reason why Japan and Australia shouldn’t join.”
In Bolton’s view, America needs to take the lead in global affairs because “Who else will?”
Unlike Bush, Bolton believes Iraq is already at war with itself: “The fundamental point is whether the civil war that exists is going to continue.” Bolton has often been mistaken for a neocon, but while he considers democracy preferable to other forms of government, he does not consider it America’s duty to spread it.
The shape and form of the nation is irrelevant: what matters is that Iraq is either tolerably pro-western or de-fanged. He has no regrets about the removal of Saddam Hussein; now it is up to the Iraqis if they want to engage in “fratricide”. The same goes for partition: “If the future of Iraq is to stay together, that’s fine. If not, I couldn’t care less from a strategic perspective.”
In that sense, he is the authentic voice of the pre-September 11 Bush, before the president chose spreading the “fire of freedom” as the best way to protect his country from terrorism. Will America revert to its traditional moorings? Bolton is out of the UN but he could fit in with the new conservative thinking.
As always, it’s too bad he waited till he was gone to say these things.