I wanted to share an interview former Bush United Nations Ambassador John Bolton did with Fox about the administration's decision to send the State Department's No. 3 diplomat, William Burns, to meetings this weekend in Geneva to discuss an incentive package aimed at deterring Iran for building and deploying nuclear weapons.
Bolton is on the outside looking in at an administration he barely recognizes. A hard-liner on Iran, Bolton sees only folly in attempts to negotiate Iran away from what he considers its single-minded obsession with obtaining nuclear weapons and using that leverage to make itself an even bigger player in the Middle East.
More importantly, Bolton appeared to concede Obama will win the White House. He went so far as to say Bush's Iran moves could take the Iran issue off the table for McCain and give Obama a boost in credibility on national security he believes is unfounded but will nevertheless occur.
The interview occurred Wednesday and I apologize for the late posting. Tony Snow's funeral set me back professionally and emotionally yesterday and I'm playing catchup on several fronts as a result.
This is the Bolton verbatim:
“This is not going to be a one time meeting. I can tell you what the State Department will say the day after the meeting: ‘It went really well, we made a lot of progress, now we've got a process going, surely we should go to the next meeting.’
In any event it’s the Bush administration legitimizing the Obama presidency’s policy. It’s like Senator Obama already has a transition office in the West Wing.And, I think, it will make it very difficult for congressional Republicans and Sen. McCain to continue their critique of the weaknesses of the existing administration policy.
The problem is that the negotiations with Iran have already been underway for 5 years. This is not a new idea. It’s not a new idea when Sen. Obama proposes it, it’s not a new idea for the us to sit at the table. After 5 years of negotiation, the only consequence is that Iran is 5 years closer to nuclear weapons. Iran is not going to give up its pursuit of those weapons voluntarily, the diplomatic options have been tried and failed and our real options are now, unfortunately, quite limited.
I think the State Department is doing its best to ensure a smooth transition toward the Obama administration. So, I have little doubt that an interest section is highly likely before the end of the Bush Administration. Once again, Tehran will read that as a weakening of the administration’s resolve and will use it to their advantage."
Again, this interview occurred Wedneday. The Bush administration confirmed work on creating an interest section in Iran on Thursday.
On the eve of Obama's overseas trip, this criticism from a former Bush insider suggests John McCain may have less latitude to criticize Obama on Iran. He may have lost ground in criticizing Obama on Afghanistan due to his endorsement of sending more troops there this week -- after Obama called for the same thing on Aug. 1, 2007.