OTR Interviews

Bolton: 'If ISIS is going after the Aussies, they're coming after us'

Amb. John Bolton: Congress' approval of arming moderare Syrian rebels 'an insignificant vote,' Obama still doesn't have comprehensive strategy


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 18, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton joins us. Ambassador, nice to see you.

And last night, the Russian ambassador to the U.N. was here to go ON THE RECORD, and he made statements about air strikes inside Syria as being something that they would certainly oppose.

JOHN BOLTON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Well, I think they probably will. I'm not expecting air strikes inside Syria from the United States anytime soon. I think this vote on arming and training the Syrian opposition is probably a fairly insignificant vote. I think it's a minimal part of the president's strategy. And it only lasts until December. I think we have to look very hard at who it is who is going to get these arms. I would have voted in favor of it, but gritting my teeth as I did so. The president is still not facing up to the reality that he doesn't have a comprehensive strategy.

VAN SUSTEREN: Here's what I don't get. It's that every team we talk about arming the troops, General Dempsey says it's going to take up to a year. Earlier, they said six months. In six months, we could have 5,000 ready to go. But what I'm also hearing is that ISIS in that time would increase by 15,000. Are we --


BOLTON: It's a fantasy to think that this war is going to be run by arming and training, whether it's the Syrian opposition or the --

VAN SUSTEREN: But the numbers are bizarre. I mean --


BOLTON: And it's not going to happen any time soon. It's no wonder the president thinks it's going to take three years. In the meantime, ISIS isn't waiting around. The Australian government, in their largest anti-terrorism in Australian history, 800 police officers arrested a substantial number of suspected ISIS terrorists who were about to begin beheadings in Australia. If the ISIS people are coming after the Aussies, they're coming after us very soon, too.

VAN SUSTEREN: And even though, if it were limited to Syria, if this were something that weren't going to be exported to the United States or Australia or anyplace else, I don't see the numbers. I don't see how increasing 5,000 fighters in six months, against them, already increasing their army, adding 15,000 to 45,000 --


BOLTON: It's extraordinarily disproportionate.


VAN SUSTEREN: How can they talk about that?

BOLTON: I think the president wanted a vote on something so he could say he has done something concrete against ISIS. He probably had felt if the Republicans rejected it and we ended up shutting down the government on the continuing resolution that he could use that politically. Forgive me for being cynical but I think that's what's at work here. This is a trivial vote on the least-significant aspect of the president's plan. And it only lasts as long as the continuing resolution.

VAN SUSTEREN: Syria's going to oppose these air strikes. Russia's going to oppose these air strikes. And this is inside Syria, so --


BOLTON: For one reason, the United States has to protect itself and not rely on others, as we've discussed before.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, thanks. Nice to see you, sir.

BOLTON: Thank you.