The Conspiracy

Secretary of State Candidate John Bolton Won’t Bend on Israel Policy

Let’s play a game of “Who Said It? Secretary of State John Kerry or Secretary of State Candidate John Bolton?” (The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations met with Vice President-elect Mike Pence last Thursday and met with President-elect Donald Trump last Friday.)

John Bolton | By Gage Skidmore [CC BY 2.0], via Creative Commons


On the One vs. Two-State Solution:

Quote #1: “The one-state solution is no solution at all for a secure, Jewish, democratic Israel living in peace, it is simply not a viable option.”

Quote #2: ” The two-state solution isn’t going anywhere… [It’s a] delusion that the only long-term solution in the Israeli-Palestinian context is a Palestinian state.”

On Threats From Iran:

Quote #3: “It’s so incredibly disproportionate that I believe that working with our Gulf state partners, which we are going to do and which we are upgrading, we have the ability to guarantee that they will be secure, that we will stand by them, even as we look for this potential of a shift in behavior.”

Quote #4: “I think [Iran threatening to shoot down U.S. spy planes] is yet another example of Iran’s effort to show that it is the dominant power in the Persian Gulf… We really ought to be deciding on some kind of strategic response, not responding to this provocation or that provocation, but doing something about this to demonstrate to the leadership in Tehran it’s unacceptable.”

On the Iran Deal:

Quote #5: “Now, I know that some people have said that Iran is such a huge threat we shouldn’t even have attempted to do that — that we should have passed up the best chance we had for the international community to come together and block each and every one of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon. To me, that argument just doesn’t compute.”

Quote #6: “Iran may well retaliate. At that point, Washington must be ready to immediately resupply Israel for losses incurred by its armed forces in the initial attack, so that Israel will still be able to effectively counter Tehran’s proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah…”


If you guessed (without clicking on the hyperlinks — that’s cheating!) quotes 1, 3, and 5 were said by Kerry and quotes 2, 4, and 6 were said by Bolton, congratulations! You differentiated between two top diplomats, and I think you can guess which one is better for Israel. Because of his foreign policy experience as a U.N. ambassador and undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, Bolton should be Trump’s pick to be secretary of state.

Bolton has an articulate understanding of the foreign policy that Kerry and the Obama administration have pushed during the past four years. If chosen as Trump’s secretary of state, Bolton may be the one to finally steer the State Department toward supporting Israel against Iran’s nuclear weapons program, as Bolton is vehemently against the Iran nuclear deal reached last year.

His hardline stance toward Iran meshes with Trump’s pick for secretary of defense, retired Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, whose appointment was announced last Thursday night.

Granted, Mattis previously made controversial remarks about Israel, drawing condemnation from the ZOA. “Either it ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don’t get to vote — apartheid,” he said at the 2013 Aspen Security Forum. “That didn’t work too well the last time I saw that practiced in a country.” However, he and Bolton agree on responding to the Iranian nuclear threat. Bolton and Mattis have called for the U.S. to militarily strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. Mattis’s hawkish stance on Iran makes his statements on Israel look like peanuts.

Shortly after the Iran Deal was reached last year, Bolton wrote in National Review, “As of today, only a preemptive military strike can block Iran from becoming a nuclear-weapons state. We can understand why politicians flee from publicly considering the military option, just as we can understand why Obama tries to shoehorn debate into a ‘my way or war’ dichotomy. But neither wishful thinking nor outright deception can change the fundamental strategic reality. That facing reality is unpalatable politically does not mean we can imagine another reality into existence.”

Mattis echoed Bolton’s sentiment toward Iran. “The Iranian regime, in my mind, is the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East,” he said. At a lecture at UC Berkeley, he added, “If the Iranians come away from this with a nuclear program intact, I think there are very bleak options.”

Such a change in the State Department would benefit the diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and Israel, which has been hostile at times. In general, Bolton is known to be a fighter, especially for the Jewish State. As assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, he advocated at the United Nations in 1991 to repeal the 1975 resolution that said Zionism was “racism.”

President-elect Donald Trump has a momentous opportunity to shift U.S. foreign policy with a secretary of state that can work in concert with a well-respected military general at the helm of the Pentagon. Bolton could be the glue for a team that needs to unstick previous U.S. foreign policy toward Israel.

Jackson Richman is a senior studying political science at George Washington University. He has interned at The Weekly Standard and The Daily Caller. He’s a frequent contributor for Red Alert Politics and American Action News. You can follow him on Twitter: @jacksonrichman.

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