Bush's U.N. ambassador Bolton urges no budget cuts inaffecting defense

Bolton
Bolton
Posted: January 28, 2011

If budget-cutting is the new mantra in Washington, then John Bolton - the former Bush administration stalwart now weighing a 2012 presidential bid - didn't get the part of the memo that deals with defense spending.

In Philadelphia to address a new conservative foreign-policy outfit, Bolton acknowledged that there's "waste and fraud" in the Pentagon, but added: "If it comes to actual major cuts, that would be a huge mistake for the United States to make."

While others see the world's largest military - by far - as ripe for reform, Bolton argued during an interview at the Union League that the Department of Defense needs to be doing more.

"We face a wide range of uncertainty as to what threats are going to be close to port," said Bolton, a leader of the so-called neoconservative movement who served as ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush. He added: "That's not a happy thing to say in a time of budget constraints, but that's the reality."

Bolton does not say many happy things. To spend some time with the big-mustachioed diplomat is a little like time-traveling back to 2003, when a map of the world looked to the White House like a threat-assessment chart.

While President Obama and other U.S. leaders speak frequently about the economic risks to America from the rise of China, Bolton is instead focused on the military threat posed by the world's largest nation.

Bolton said that China's increased military spending - coupled with what he fears is reluctance by the Obama administration to take on Beijing in a crisis - poses a threat to our longtime ally, Taiwan.

"I don't want the United States to be in a fair fight," he said. "I don't believe in a fair fight. I want to win overwhelmingly, I want to win in what the military calls 'full- spectrum dominance.' " He quickly added that a dominant military can be a deterrent to war.

But when it comes to the war that is the race for the GOP nod to challenge Obama, Bolton remains undecided. "I don't have a timetable," he said, just hours before Indiana Rep. Mike Pence declared that he's not running - the first in a string of pronouncements in the coming weeks.

"I am considering it because I think it's important to find a way to get national-security issues in the center of our national debate," Bolton said.

So is the group that Bolton addressed last night, the Philadelphia Freedom Center, a group focused heavily on issues surrounding terrorism and Islamic radicalism. It was launched by conservative provocateur David Horowitz and is run locally by Craig Snider, son of Flyers and 76ers owner Ed Snider, a libertarian and Ayn Rand devotee.

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