Bolton: Obama repeatedly demonstrates 'concern' about American strength instead of supporting it

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 16, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: The problem with Obama is that he sees American strength as provocative when in fact it's the exact opposite. It's American weakness that is provocative, and we have a president that specializes in it.


GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton blasting President Obama's foreign policy. Ambassador Bolton speaking at the NRA convention. What exactly does he mean? Ambassador Bolton joins us. Good evening, sir. Let me go straight to that sound bite we played. Americans, President Obama sees American strength as provocative. What do you mean by that?

BOLTON: Well, I think he believes, for example, the nuclear arsenal, the size of our defense forces, our posture around the world, decisions whether or not to intervene in foreign crisis, are all questions that aggravate the international situation rather than calming it down. I think he's demonstrated this again and again and again, his massive cuts in our defense budget, his proposals, essentially for what he calls nuclear zero, eliminating the nuclear arsenal over time, withdrawing from Iraq well before our military leaders would have advised it, saying we are going to close down operations in Afghanistan in 2014 if not before, and on and on and on. All of these policy decisions demonstrate concern about the American strength, not supporting it.

VAN SUSTEREN: I reread your speech, the NRA. And you have had high praise for President Reagan. You said we need a, quote, "Ronald Reagan approach to foreign policy." And I'm curious, what would a Ronald Reagan approach to foreign policy be to two things? One North Korea, and the other is this weekend I was in the Sudan and there is ethnic cleansing being done there right now. So what would a Ronald Reagan foreign policy to those two crises?

BOLTON: Let's take North Korea first. There is a regime that's essentially a prison camp for 23 million people. Yet it has the capacity to build nuclear devices. It's already tested two. There is speculation about a third test coming up. And although it's recent ICBM test was a failure, it demonstrates they are on a course, are determined to get a worldwide delivery capability for that nuclear weapon.

I think Reagan here would have looked at this problem and concluded that the only real solution is the elimination of North Korea, the reunification of the Korean peninsula. That's what he would have pursued had he been in office.

VAN SUSTEREN: To the ethnic cleansing that is currently going on in the Sudan, which I saw with my own eyes, it's absolutely deplorable.

BOLTON: This has been an ongoing ethnic and religious genocide. In recent years we've been transfixed by Darfur, a tragedy caused by the same regime in Khartoum. Protecting the religious freedom around the world was one of Reagan's highest priorities. And I think we would have seen a much more aggressive posture, again here, working with China. One of the real problems at the U.N. and elsewhere is the China is flying political cover for the regime in Khartoum because of their reliance on Sudanese oil. So I think this is something he would have approached from a much tougher point of view.

VAN SUSTEREN: Explain to me, compare and contrast the Obama approach to China and the President Reagan approach to China because China plays a significant role in the two regions, and they are both hot spots.

BOLTON: Of course, the times are different now with the circumstances between the United States and China. I think the biggest problem with the Obama policy is that he doesn't have a policy. The most he does is send the secretary of the treasury to Beijing to plead with the Chinese to allow their currency to appreciate. I think you need a line with China that says we're going to stand up for American interests. We're not going to accept Chinese economic distortions of global policy.


VAN SUSTEREN: How do you actually do it? You can say that to them and they can say yes, shake their head. How do you do it?

BOLTON: I think it consists largely of not buying the line that China is such an important market for the United States. We're such an important purchaser that you can assert American interest like anticompetitive behavior in Chinese markets, like aggressive Chinese claims in South and East China Sea, like the Chinese military buildup, like the Chinese increase in the nuclear and ballistic missile forces, which we're not answering. One thing we need is an example of the national missile defense which the Obama administration has done everything that they could to scuttle and yet was one of the highlights of Reagan's approach.

VAN SUSTEREN: And your speech you, I noticed that you were critical of the president saying he talks more to the so-called enemies, the people who aren't our friends than he does the American people about things like missile defense.

BOLTON: Well, ask President Medvedev how we are doing on missile defense and how much more flexible president is going to be if he gets reelected.

VAN SUSTEREN: I didn't mean to say Russia was our enemy, but I meant he was our opponent. "Enemy" is a strong word. But anyway, ambassador, thank you, sir.

BOLTON: Thank you.