PALM HARBOR — In a saber-rattling speech on U.S. foreign policy Thursday morning, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton accused President Barack Obama of appeasing American adversaries across the world.
"We have a president who believes that our strength is provocative, only if we were less pushy, less American even," said Bolton during a speech before the Florida delegation at the Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort. "But it is American weakness that's provocative and we have a very provocative president in the White House."
Without mentioning that Obama ordered the successful operation to kill Osama bin Laden, Bolton accused the current administration of being willfully oblivious to American enemies and not being tough enough on Iran.
"The administration says it will stop Iran, but its real policy is containment," Bolton said. "That's delusional."
With American influence on the decline under Obama, other countries would go nuclear, Bolton warned.
"Obama has concluded that the gravest threat is Israel building apartment buildings in east Jerusalem," Bolton said. "He's ignored the real threat: Iran as the central banker of terrorism in the Middle East."
Bolton alluded to a common (and false) charge uttered by Mitt Romney: that Obama has gone around the world apologizing for America.
"The most important thing you need in a president internationally is a president who is proud of the United States of America, who believes in American exceptionalism," Bolton said. "Adversaries have sized up this president and calibrated their approaches accordingly."
Bolton's bellicose speech is nothing new for a man who is being whispered as a possible secretary of state in a Romney administration. When he was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from August 2005 to December 2006, he mocked the idea of diplomacy during a time in which the George W. Bush administration was pushing a foreign policy of militaristic pre-emption.
Bolton showed no signs of softening that approach. He delivers red meat material for the Republican base now as a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal and FOX News. And he continued to liken diplomacy and open relations with nations like Cuba as a sign of weakness and favored instead the status quo that had produced few results.
"You can bet that (Obama) would open up the embargo in Cuba," Bolton said. "That would be a terrible mistake. Romney won't do that. We should wait for the day when the actuarial tables take over and (Fidel) Castro finally does pass away and we can return freedom to Cuba."