Ambassador John Bolton: Netanyahu’s Behavior, Strategy ‘Sensible’ in Face of US Abandonment
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is doing what is sensible, from the perspective of a leader of a country whose principle ally, America, appears to be abandoning it, a former United States ambassador to the United Nations told The Algemeiner on Thursday.
John Bolton, who — during his tenure at the UN from August 2005 until December 2006 — was responsible for having General Assembly Resolution 3379 (more commonly known as “Zionism is racism”) rescinded, was responding to a query about Netanyahu’s recent visits to Moscow, rapprochement agreement with Turkey and bolstering of ties with African nations and with those Arab countries concerned about Iran’s ability to acquire nuclear weapons.
“Now, I understand that the US has just signed this ‘wonderful’ Memorandum of Understanding with Israel, which the administration in Washington correctly says represents the largest military-aid package over time in its history. But it’s inadequate and everybody knows it,” said Bolton, during an event held by the Gatestone Institute — a New York-based think tank that specializes in strategy and defense — on the day that Netanyahu addressed the 71st session of the UN General Assembly.
Bolton, who serves as Gatestone’s chairman, added that, during a recent visit to Israel, he told Netanyahu that he was right to sign the MoU, and that “if the election has the right outcome, he should re-open it – something that would be met with great receptivity. The greater risk would have been not signing an agreement, and getting an administration after the presidential elections that gave an even worse deal.”
It’s understandable, although unhappy, that Netanyahu is trying to make accommodations with the likes of Turkey and Russia. But if he can’t count on the United States – and he certainly can’t count on Western Europe – he has to do what he can to mitigate the potential threats from them and their friends around the region.
We know that Russia has enormous influence with the Assad regime in Syria, which wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for Russia and Iran, and influence, obviously, with Iran itself.
Where Egypt is concerned, and Netanyahu’s increasingly strengthening ties with President el-Sisi, I think Netanyahu is ahead of the United States, because we ought to be finding ways to have a better relationship with that government. We’ve succeeded in the past six years, since the beginning of the Arab Spring, in alienating every significant faction of political Egypt: the military doesn’t trust us; the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t trust us; what’s left of the more western, pro-liberal part of society doesn’t trust us…
The point, stressed Bolton, is that Netanyahu is left no recourse, due to US weakness.
“If you believed in American commitments, and if you believed we understood, as we once did, what was at stake in seemingly remote places, you wouldn’t need to do what Netanyahu has been doing – certainly not to the extent he has — or what our Arab friends, the oil-producing monarchies on the Arabian Peninsula, are doing by talking to China and Russia. They’re not moving out of the neighborhood; the neighborhood’s getting more dangerous for them, too. So they’re going to look after Number One from their perspective. And they’re worried about America’s long-term commitment.”
This, said Bolton, author, most recently, of the best-selling book, Surrender Is Not an Option, “creates a cycle of estrangement from the United States that feeds on itself. We hear politicians in America saying, ‘Our allies are ungrateful; they’re not pulling their weight.’ Well, it’s true about a lot of them. But that doesn’t mean you abandon your allies. It means you get your house in order and get back to doing basic alliance-management, which we haven’t done in the past eight years.”