The United States is offering a very weak response to the ISIS threat, and existing goals are helping to create the most chaotic Middle East the world has seen in a century, according to former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.
Bolton is also blasting President Obama for publicly suggesting that moving forward on a proposed climate-change agreement is the strongest possible rebuke civilized nations can issue toward ISIS.
While the U.S., Russia, France and Turkey, among others, are involving themselves in Syria, their priorities are often in conflict. Russia’s main goal is to shore up the Assad regime, Obama’s number one priority is Assad’s ouster, while Turkey is preoccupied with containing Kurdish strength.
So where does that leave the region and the goal of eradicating ISIS?
“The Middle East as we’ve known it since the end of World War I has basically come apart,” said Bolton, who believes the U.S. policy is particularly baffling.
“The biggest problem the United States faces is the confusion in the administration’s own strategy that proposes different things that are simply contradictory to one another,” he said. “Even when it thinks it has an object[ive], like getting rid of Assad or battling ISIS, it doesn’t do anywhere near enough to accomplish any of the objectives.”
Bolton said the lack of American strength or clarity is opening doors for the likes of Russia and Iran to assume more influence in the Middle East.
“They’ve seen this weakness and lack of American attention,” Bolton said. “That’s why they’ve honed in to try to support the Assad regime and advance their own interests. I think in general you can say, across the Middle East, the chaos is spreading, which is not good for the United States.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with John Bolton:
At the start of the week, President Obama addressed the opening of COP21, the climate-change conference in Paris that he hopes will result in a landmark deal. The president raised eyebrows by suggesting the conference served as a major blow to ISIS because Paris is bouncing back from the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks and because he believes addressing climate change wounds terrorists.
“What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshaling our best efforts to save it?” Obama asked on Monday.
Bolton was stunned.
“The president has said a lot of silly things in the last seven years, but this ranks right at the top,” Bolton said. “It is a tribute to France and the city of Paris to hold the conference, but if it were a conference on Tiddlywinks, it would be just as significant.”
But will any nation soon be unleashing the type of military response needed to destroy ISIS? Bolton said it won’t be the U.S., but Moscow will eventually target ISIS for bringing down a Russian airliner over the Sinai Peninsula.
“At a time of Vladimir Putin’s choosing, they will retaliate brutally against ISIS for that act of terrorism against civilians on that passenger airliner,” Bolton said. “I think if it would help Assad, they’ll attack ISIS targets. They have already, although to a very limited extent.”
He said Putin is no hurry.
“Putin has a very long game that he’s playing here,” Bolton said. “He wants to replace the United States as the principal external power in the Middle East. He doesn’t know who’s going to win our election next year, but he knows he’s got another year of Obama to take advantage of. That’s what he’s doing, not only in the conflict in Syria but in the broader Middle East as a whole.”
So how can ISIS be defeated?
“The United States has got to mobilize a political alliance, including all of the gulf Arab monarchies, the oil-producing states, Turkey, the Kurds and Egypt for that matter,” he said. “It’s going to require American leadership because we’re the only ones that can pull these disparate countries together. It’s going to require American boots on the ground, and it’s going to require taking territory that ISIS now holds.
“We can’t even leave them with a small state because that, as it has been already, will be a magnet for terrorists from all over the world,” he added.
Ultimately, Bolton believes the map of that region will need to be redrawn to reflect the reality that Sunnis want nothing to do with Iraq or Syria in the long run.
“We need something else for them,” he said. “I think a new state’s the answer. All of this is pure theory because for the next 13-plus months, Barack Obama isn’t going to do anything like what we need to do to achieve the objectives that he himself has stated, which is the destruction of ISIS.”