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Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told a radio host Sunday President Obama’s decision to launch airstrikes in Iraq was “clearly political,” a calculation based more on election campaigning than national security.
Bolton was speaking on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” on New York’s AM 970 The Answer.
The former ambassador claimed Obama’s order to strike Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, forces advancing on the Kurdish capital of Erbil in Iraq is “too limited” and “far too late” and suggested it was only done now because of public pressure to do something with the 2014 midterm elections right around the corner.
“I think the decision is clearly political,” Bolton said. “I think virtually everything Obama does on national security is related to politics, not governance. And I think Obama had to be dragged kicking and screaming into this decision to use military force in Iraq. Whether it was the fate of the Yazidis or some other concern, perhaps that Erbil would fall to the ISIS forces, I think the president waited beyond the last reasonable minute.
“I mean, for example, when ISIS took Mosul two months ago, hundreds of thousands of Christians fled the area, and their fate is as bad or perhaps worse than the Yazidis,” Bolton said. “I don’t rate one as more important than the other. I rate all of these as humanitarian disasters occasioned by, at least in substantial part, the failure of American policy in Iraq.”
The former ambassador wondered aloud why Obama didn’t act months ago, when ISIS first went on the march or when it became clear Iraq was destabilizing in the wake of the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
“I think Obama, as usual, was simply not paying attention,” Bolton surmised. “The president simply does not pay adequate attention to U.S. national security.”
So why start the airstrikes now?
“I don’t have much doubt that what finally moved the president was political calculus,” Bolton concluded. “I don’t think we know exactly what it was, but maybe he felt he had to do something before he went on yet another vacation.”
The president left Washington, D.C., for a two-week vacation Saturday morning, after holding a press conference announcing the operations in Iraq would “take some time.”
Listen to the full interview with Bolton below: