This American Moment: John Bolton

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Former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaking at the Herzliya Conference in Januar

Former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaking at the Herzliya Conference in January. Source: JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Source: JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Today is the third day of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, and we're continuing our series of conversations about "This American Moment." John Bolton, former Ambassador to the United Nations, will join us to put this campaign season in context, and talk about what this election means to him. We'll also ask him what he thinks is at stake in foreign policy.

We want to hear from you, too — what does this campaign season mean to you? And if you have questions for John Bolton, leave them here.



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Would you ask John Bolten what if any overtures Iran made to help the U.S. in the wake of 9-11.

Sent by Martin Gaslin | 2:41 PM | 9-3-2008

How will the "military option" in Iran affect our military? How is this a sustainable option?

Sent by Mike | 2:53 PM | 9-3-2008

John Bolton, this guy is a joke, don't understand or see how he was a former US ambassador with such close minded views and spin on what been happening, with N. Korea, and Iran, as threat of force did not work.
His views are dangerous and very well info/risky

please question him more on such spins

Sent by michael | 2:53 PM | 9-3-2008

There are two kinds of people... people who think there are only two kinds of people, and people who live in reality.

I don't understand why Bolton says we have negotiated with Iran. He says Europe did, but we are not Europe.

There are also a lot of stories out there about factions in Iran trying to work with us against the Taliban, but we refused them, namely the incident in The Way of the World, by Ron Suskind. What does Bolton think of that?

Additionally, how can you stop Iran from getting the bomb? It's like putting a genie back in a box. Even if they don't make their own, they can buy them from Russia, and Russia has no reason to refuse them, seeing as how the US is basically trying to re-start the cold war.

Sent by anonymous source | 2:54 PM | 9-3-2008

Has Bolton realized that Abraham Lincoln invited members of his political opposition to be part of his administration yet? He pretty much made a fool of himself on the Daily Show when he disputed this with John Stewart.

Sent by Ken Howell | 2:56 PM | 9-3-2008

lets be frank, the surge helped iraq but also the u.s. government paying sunnis(sons of iraq) the Mahdi Army, made a cease fire. and than take a look at what the surge was used to do, complete all benchmarks, which has not happen, and yes we did acted a as unilateral and dragged the rest of the country's into this

Sent by michael | 2:59 PM | 9-3-2008

America overthrew Iran's leader, Mossadeq and replaced him with the Shah in 1953. America also shot down Iranian air flight 655, killing 290 passengers plus the crew. America helped Saddam kill 700,000 Iranians during the Iraq/Iran war and now the insidious neocons and many Jews are urging America to again attack Iran, a country that is not a threat to America. In the past (?) hundreds of years, Iran has never attacked another country, unlike Israel.

Mr. Bolton claims the "surge" is working, however, 2007 has been the BLOODIEST, DEADLIEST year of this insidious war! The "surge" is working only if the objective is to kill more American soldiers! As reported by Paul Sperry's, A SURGE IN BRIBES - "'success' in Anbar is really just a return on U.S. financial inducements to tribal sheiks. Instead of dropping bombs in Iraq, we're now dropping bundles of cash in the laps of insurgents who without the crude bribes would no doubt return to ambushing our troops. If the surge has worked, it's due in large part to a surge in bribes, not troops, and that kind of success cannot last." Neocons and bribes are synonymous!

Mr. Bolton is an insult to America. He should exchange his laptop for an M-16 and fight for this country. Of course, he doesn't have the courage. He get other to fight and die in wars he supports, but he has avoid serving like all neocons.


Sent by Chagrined | 2:59 PM | 9-3-2008

I think Mr. Bolton is over simplifying the benefits of the Surge policy. He leaves out the Anbar Awakening. He instead becomes a talking head of the McCain campaign. I would suggest NPR debate provide a debate with Mr. Bolton with someone of equal intellect and not callers.

Sent by Kirk Roberts | 3:00 PM | 9-3-2008

How much more airtime should we give Bolton to spread his perpetual lies. Wasn't it enough that he pushed the 'WMD' lie on us as a country?

Sent by Tom | 3:05 PM | 9-3-2008

John Bolton is belligerent and dismissive of callers. He is dishonest. Bolton questions a caller who notes that the Iraq war is no longer the number one issue for voters, the economy is. Bolton is contemptuous of his remark, saying that his comment proves Iraq is going much better. Of course, it doesn't. The caller tries to explain that it isn't that Iraq is going much better, it's because the economy is a disaster, a real crisis at people's doors. Bolton dismisses him. The host let's him get away with this. I'm not surprised. The host, Neal Conen seems to be a fan of Bolton.

Sent by Andy Ploof | 3:07 PM | 9-3-2008

Mr. Bolton is trying to give John McCain credit for the surge - Gen. Shenseki wanted over 250k troops to go to war and the republicans including McCain backed Rumsfeld and Wolfolwitz. On the subject of allies in Iraq, why doesn't Mr. Bolton speak on what these countries were given or paid by the US, it was no moral outrage, they were bought and paid for with promises of rebuilding contracts, and financial support. He calls Sen Obama naive, what is naive about supporting Georgia and isolating Russia? Which one is more dangerous and which one took longer to stabilize? Georgia is 17 yrs old and they broke the peace. Mr Bolton is more of the same spin from the right who has hurt our beautiful country beyond belief in the past 8 yrs.

Sent by Jay Anderson | 3:09 PM | 9-3-2008

Do you really have to have someone like John Bolton on your show who interrupts and bullies anyone that calls in to make a comment? This level of discussion belongs on AM radio with Rush Limbaugh, not on NPR.

Sent by Doug Shivers | 3:09 PM | 9-3-2008

Bolton was scary as the US ambassador to the UN. He is scarier still at the 08 RNC. Perpetuation of his--and Right Wing--Machiavellian brand of "diplomacy" will certainly stave off any hope of world peace. With global representation by the likes of people such as Bolton, and the truculent agenda of this ilk, it's no wonder that nation states all over the planet are getting a bit nervous about US aggression.

Sent by Mike | 3:11 PM | 9-3-2008

Is there a more arrogant ice hole on the face of the earth? I am so tired of the Bu-shits bemoaning the fact that the war is not "the issue" of the campaign so they can explain to the American people why the war in Iraq was a good idea and why we need to continue it indefinitely! The reality is that it took America far to long to take a realistic look at what was happening in Iraq and around the world in our name and to demand that it stop. John Bolton still operates under the illusion that the vast majority of Americans simply don't get it. Unfortunately for us all, we do get it, and we want it to stop. NOW.

Sent by Rebecca Brock | 3:31 PM | 9-3-2008

Perhaps the nomination of Republican Sarah Palin as vice president will force us finally to acknowledge the sexism and hypocrisy endemic to this culture.

Once a woman proves she can talk as well, compute as well, shoot guns and baskets as well as a man -- once she proves herself his equal -- then the only weapon left to attack her with is her sexuality. And using sex as a tool of power, whether in the physical or intellectual, is rape by any definition.

Suggestions that she is not a fit mother because of her 17-year-old's pregnancy demeans all families. I defy any parent of teenagers to stand up and claim total control of that child's behavior. It has already been tacitly admitted that were the tables turned and a male candidate's daughter got pregnant outside of marriage, it would not even be a topic of discussion. That is sexism, pure and simple.

The moment anyone made a remark about Hillary Clinton's cleavage, the primary season was over because this country cannot get past sexism. It will get beyond racism first.

If this sounds as if I am a Sarah Palin supporter, that would be an erroneous assumption. I like her story, her grit, her intelligence and what appears to be her massive streak of common sense. However, she, too, is a hypocrite if she says, as a 2007 Pittsburgh Post-Tribune column credits her saying, that she believes individuals and families are better able to make personal decisions than the government. That kind of logic would force her to be pro-choice. That would leave her free to give birth to her precious Trig while allowing me and my daughters to make our own decisions, even if they were different. That would leave her free to teach her children whatever she wished about how the world was created without forcing her views on my children in school.

Frankly, it doesn't inspire confidence in her foreign policy experience to find out that she did not even own a passport until, as governor last year, she needed one to visit Alaskan National Guard troops in Kuwait and Germany.

Let's confine our discussion of Sarah Palin to the issues that are rightfully in the public arena and that affect us all. Let's leave her roles as wife and mother at home, where they belong.

That truly would shatter that highest of all glass ceilings.

Sent by Sarah Vradenburg from Akron, Ohio | 3:38 PM | 9-3-2008

Journalists should research their stories before opening their mouths. The story about North Korea re-assembling their nuclear facilities, which John Bolton tried to hype, was negated by U. S. State Department spokesperson Sean McCormick today. (He said that there is not evidence of this, although he acknowledged there has been activity of moving items out of storage.)

If I know this, why doesn't Talk of the Nation which has a staff to check on such things?

Even BUSH has distanced himself from the discredited Bolton, or doesn't Talk of the Nation know that either? Why was this man even interviewed?

Sent by Kathy B. | 4:17 PM | 9-3-2008

I found it extremely disconcerting to find Mr. Bolton being given a forum from which to speak like he did on "Talk of the Nation". After a review of the segment in light of the comments on the blog, I find it clear that Bolton could not be effectively questioned or challenged on the assertions and views that he champions and presented on the air. Concisely, this segment functioned as an advertisement for policies Mr. Bolton champions.

NPR and "Talk of the Nation" are not to be used as vehicles to present unchallenged talking points, and I fear that happened today. At the very least, a future guest (an opponent of Mr. Bolten's views on US foreign policy) should be given a chance to address the arguments and assertions put forth on today's show.

The US Congress had such concrete reservation as to Mr. Bolton representing the US at the UN that they refused to act on his nomination by President Bush. Subsequently, Mr. Bolton was installed as ambassador by recess appointment, and was forced out of the position of ambassador at the end of that session of Congress. These reservations were not taken lightly by the US Congress and should not be overlooked by the public or NPR.

Sent by Brian Taylors | 4:40 PM | 9-3-2008

The reason that diplomacy is not working is that the actions of the current administration have paralyzed us. We have no moral, economic, or military leverage to back up anything that we say.

Sent by William Stinnett | 4:58 PM | 9-3-2008

Perhaps in the midst of your enthusiasm of interviewing the likes of John Bolton you should take a look at what happened outside the Convention yesterday in this truly regrettable and outrageous "American Moment" (with echoes of 1968) when Amy Goodman and two of her staff from Democracy Now! were arrested ( Perhaps you could report on this in the next couple of days.

Sent by Geoff Kaufman | 5:23 PM | 9-3-2008

As an anti-iraq war, but not anti-war, citizen it is really bothering me what Republicans, like Mr. Bolton, have to say about those of us who did not support the Iraq war. Let me start by saying, as Bush told us, we won the war, an easy task for the most powerful nation on the planet. Let me also say, as Bolton wants us anti-Iraq war people to say, the surge worked. What has been my original and constant criticism is the price to win the peace. As the Administrations planning shows, they did not plan for this building of peace in a place that really has never known peace. And now as I have said from March 2003, a typical citizen who has no political experience, the price is going to be too high and the profit will be nothing. So McCain pro-war supporters answer the real question: how much blood and treasure should we spend on winning the peace and defending a nation that is thousands of miles from our own borders. Also, be mindful of the fact that we never won the peace were the true war was and still is-- Afghanistan. A war that I supported and a place we squandered our investment . Lastly, I wish Republican would recognize that when they say Obama lacks experience, they forget, at the darkest hour in American History, a man who served one term as a Congressman, reshaped this nation and preserved our Union: The anti-war (Mexican American) limited education Republican, Abraham Lincoln.

Sent by Marc Taube | 10:15 PM | 9-3-2008

Real or make believe, the surge in Iraq. It took place after the popular cleric anounced to his army to not fight the government. It seems that the cleric is in charge in Iraq not the government or the U.S. If you want to ignore that reality and believe putting more bodies on the gound made the difference than live in your made up world. Everytime the U.S. got involved in a raid fighting broke out and lasted until the U.S. left.
Reality is my friend.

Sent by Montague | 8:11 PM | 9-5-2008

Don't forget, Lincoln was a Republican. He was so unpopular that half the country seceded from the USA. Not even Bush is that unpopular. And Lincolns limited education consisted largely of reading the Bible not being indoctrinated by a liberal university education. And Bush's stand on pro-life is the equivalent of Lincoln's stand on slavery, namely that all are created equal and have certain rights, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Whether the person is a slave, a woman, or unborn, or a citizen of Iraq.

Sent by Clifford | 2:51 PM | 9-7-2008

I'm coming a bit late to the party, but I'd like to correct Clifford's error here at least. Lincoln is the most recent president in history to have no known religious affiliation. He has been frequently accused of Christianity, and indeed made references to god in his speeches, but is not known to have officially described himself as a Christian.

Also, his personal stand on slavery, for those who have read more in-depth history books than the elementary-school texts Clifford seems to remember, will have learned that Lincoln did not personally care for slavery, but he was also certainly not a fired-up abolitionist by any means altogether. He had drafted the Emancipation Proclamation (a rather politically cynical document which only freed those slaves in areas not under his control to enforce it within), but on the urging of Secretary Seward he put the Proclamation in a drawer to wait for an appropriate political moment to reveal it.

Also, Lincoln's "unpopularity" (strange choice of words for someone who won the Presidency - you have to be pretty popular to do that) may have been the straw that broke the camel's back as far as the south was concerned, but he certainly was not the cause of the Civil War. The Civil War - in the form of tension between the urban north and plantation-based south - had been foreseen clearly by Jefferson and the other founders, who had tried in vain to build compromises into the Constitution in an effort to heal the rift before it could widen. Though their efforts staved off the breach for "four score and seven" year, eventually those rifts finally tore wide open. Lincoln was just the last snowflake that started the avalanche moving. He is mostly remembered for acquitting himself well and prosecuting the war with great determination. His religious views entered little into the public debate of the time.

Just some historical perspective to counteract the spin!

Sent by Kasreyn | 8:21 PM | 9-16-2008