A former United States ambassador to the United Nations called for an increased attention to international affairs Wednesday, arguing a strong America is critical to an economically prosperous one.
John Bolton spoke Wednesday at the Lied Center at the Kansas University School of Business’ annual Vickers Lecture.
Bolton served as ambassador to the United Nations under former President George W. Bush, who used a temporary appointment procedure in 2005 to appoint him to the position over Democratic opposition in the United States Senate. Today, he serves as a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, researching U.S. foreign and national security policy.
Bolton took a brief tour of what he called “the world’s trouble spots” on Wednesday, touching on issues like the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the role of Iran and other Middle East instability.
On North Korea, he said the country would be willing to sell its nuclear technology to any group that had the right amount of currency.
“This is a regime that can only be dealt with by seeing it go to the ash heap of history,” he said.
He also discussed Iran, saying that unless military action is taken against it (which would likely have to come from Israel because an American strike is unlikely with the current administration), Iran would likely develop a nuclear program within a year, and likely sooner, he said.
“I wouldn’t trust that regime with sharp objects, let alone a peaceful nuclear program,” he said.
A policy of containment and deterrence that worked with the old Soviet Union might not be as successful with Iran, he said.
“I don’t think containment works with a regime that prizes life in the hereafter more than they prize life on Earth,” Bolton said.
He touched on longer-term issues like China, which so far has grown peacefully over the last 20 years. He said that path could continue, but the U.S. should be prepared for a more unstable growth, too.
The current administration isn’t appropriately dealing with these issues, Bolton argued. In an interview before the speech, he said he had endorsed Republican Mitt Romney in the upcoming presidential race.
“I think he’s got the confidence to sit behind the big desk in the Oval Office,” he said.
Though a small group of demonstrators protested outside the Lied Center before the event, Bolton spoke to a mostly friendly crowd who often applauded his responses to audience questions.