President Obama went to great lengths to convince Americans and Israelis that we stand should-to-shoulder with Israel but the private talks were just another round of demands for Israeli concessions, according to former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.
"This is a trip that's very rare in the sense that the public opportunities that the president has are about as divorced from the real substance of the private conversations as you can imagine,” Bolton told WND. “Publicly, there's no doubt that the president wanted the photo opportunities and the appearance of smoothing over the difficulties that he's had in his personal relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu and also trying to smooth over some of the difficulties in the bilateral relationship between the two countries."
According to Bolton, the president still favors returning to pre-1967 borders and agreeing with the Palestinians that settlement construction in the disputed territories must stop before any peace talks are renewed. He also says the fact Obama never publicly called for a new round of peace talks shows how futile that is in the current climate.
“I think where Obama is really tilting is toward both reality and his own reputation. You don't want to call for a new round of peace talks that are destined to run into to the ground, said Bolton.
Another telling development from the trip is Obama's repeated assessment that Iran is at least a year away from a nuclear bomb. Bolton says the message behind that estimate is crystal clear.
“Don't take any military action because it would be precipitous and don't look for us to be helping you out with it,” said Bolton in parsing the Obama administration position. The former ambassador says Netanyahu estimates Iran to have a nuclear weapon by summer or even later this spring. He says it's clear the Obama administration is trying to undermine the case for military action by dragging out the estimated timetable.
“Personally, I think that's a complete misreading of what's going on in Iran. They're not in a hurry to build that first nuclear weapon because they're not intimidated by the United States. Iran is building a very broad and deep nuclear weapons program that, as time goes on, will put them in a position to build many, many nuclear weapons – dozens and dozens in a relatively brief period of time. That's capacity they want to have, not one or two nuclear weapons but a whole arsenal of them.”
Bolton also commented on reports from earlier in the week about the Syrian army using chemical weapons against the rebels. He says the facts as we know them raise doubts about whether the weapons were actually used.
"One would think that if the regime, or the opposition for that matter, were going to cross that line of using chemical weapons, they would have had more than just one use,” said Bolton. “They're terrible weapons but if you're going to use them and pay the political price for using them, you might as well have some impact on your opponent and I don't see that yet.”
The reports of chemical weapons being used have some American lawmakers urging military intervention in Syria. Bolton says we do have national security interests in this conflict but not the ones most people think we should have.
"I'm terribly sorry about the tragedy that Syria is undergoing, 70,000-plus civilians killed in the past two years, but the American national interest is in protecting against those chemical weapons being used against us or our friends by terrorist groups,” said Bolton.