Foreign policy test for candidates

BY JAZZ SHAW – – – –

The timing for this probably couldn’t be better. It’s not that we don’t have plenty of domestic issues requiring attention, but we’ve reached a moment in the campaign where the focus of the nation is drawn to terrorism and affairs across the ocean. With that in mind, former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton is rolling out a new campaign to ensure that all of the 2016 candidates understand what’s at stake and push them to articulate their positions. But rather than leaving it up to the typical, vague talking points which campaigns love to roll out, Bolton is getting down to specifics. (Washington Post)

“You don’t make strategy by throwing a bunch of pick-up sticks on the table and seeing what emerges,” he said in an interview. “Tactics flow deductively from a real strategy. It’s not enough in my view for my candidates to deliver stump speeches written by their expert staffs. It’s not enough to download 50 ‘tough’ talking points and an ‘act natural’ algorithm.”

Bolton, one of the few national Republican figures to pass on a 2016 bid, iskicking off a six-figure ad campaign, starting online to introduce a “Bolton Test” to the 2016 race — even though he really doesn’t want the debate to be about him. “I’m a policy wonk, not a PR person, but I acknowledge in a PR battle here,” he said. “My op-ed average is one a week. I’ve got appearances on Fox News God knows how many times per month. What I’m interested in is less affecting the candidates than affecting the discussion.”

Hopefully we’ll be seeing all of the candidates weighing in on “The Bolton Test.” This is one of the more concise sets of questions on foreign policy you’re going to run across and is fairly typical of Bolton’s style. Here’s a sample:

What is America’s proper place in the world?
Do the candidates see a strong U.S. international presence as important to international peace and security? Or do they see American power as the cause of tension and conflict? Obama believes that America should apologize for its past foreign policies.What are the primary threats and opportunities America faces abroad?
President Obama’s weakness encourages our enemies. We face threats from aggressive Russian and Chinese behavior, weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism. Candidates need to do more than answer questions with memorized talking points. They need the intellect and character to detect, analyze, and respond to threats and opportunities.

How should America respond to those threats and opportunities?
Blaming Obama’s failures isn’t enough. We must restore the confidence of our allies while showing we are ready to protect our interests. How do the presidential candidates propose to do this? Unclear answers are not enough. For example, do the candidates understand the urgent need to restore our national missile defense system? After the Iran deal and years of ignoring North Korea’s nuclear threat, we are not prepared.

Nothing hyperbolic and completely lacking in inflammatory rhetoric. It’s a Just the Facts, Ma’am approach. And that’s pretty typical of Bolton. Last winter, when he was still mulling over the idea of running for president himself, the Ambassador gave us an interview where he expressed many of these same concerns. He’s a very focused guy, but he’s still got an interesting sense of humor. When he’s evaluating the current crop of candidates I have to wonder if he’ll be checking to see how many of them went to Yale Law. During our interview he dropped in the following gem:

“Everybody at Yale Law School thinks that they can become president and should become president if only the peasants would agree.”

– John Bolton

Not too much to pick from in the current crop. Carson went to Yale, but it was the medical school. George Pataki studied History there but he went on to Columbia for his J.D. On the Democrat side, of course, Hillary Clinton went to Yale during the same era as Bolton, though they were not friends. (He talks about that in the interview.) Clearly both she, her husband and Bolton all had thoughts of moving into the Oval Office so… who knows? Perhaps there’s something to his theory.


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