Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told Conservative Party delegates in Britain on Sunday that UN efforts to negotiate with Iran had failed and that he saw no alternative to a pre-emptive strike on suspected nuclear facilities in the country. Influential conservative thinker Norman Podhoretz told a British paper that he has advised U.S. President George W. Bush to do just that.
"This is not an attractive option, but after four-plus frustrating years watching European diplomacy fail time and time again and watching our options more and more constrained, I do not know what the alternative is," Bolton told delegates at the Conservative Party's annual conference in the northern British holiday town of Blackpool. "Because life is about choices," he said, "I think we have to consider the use of military force. I think we have to look at a limited strike against their nuclear facilities."
Bolton said that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was "pushing out" and "is not receiving adequate push-back" from the West. He added that any strike should be followed by an attempt to remove "the source of the problem," namely, Iranian President Ahmadinejad.
"If we were to strike Iran," Bolton said, "it should be accompanied by an effort at regime change as well, because I think that really sends the signal that we are not attacking the people, [but rather] the nuclear weapons program. The US once had the capability to engineer the clandestine overthrow of governments. I wish we could get it back." His words were met with applause and cheers.
Bolton said the fact that only partial intelligence about Iran's nuclear activity is available is not an excuse for inaction: "Intelligence can be wrong in more than one direction." He asked how the British government would respond if terrorists exploded a nuclear device at home. "'It's only Manchester?'... Responding after [nuclear devices] are used is unacceptable."
Bolton also said the UN's involvement with Iran was "fundamentally irrelevant."
Podhoretz: I told Bush 'Strike Iran'
Norman Podhoretz, an intellectual leader of the neoconservative movement in the US who has joined Republican Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign as a senior foreign policy advisor, told London's Sunday Times he urged US President George W. Bush to bomb Iran. Podhoretz said he met Bush in an unpublicized meeting late last spring at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York.
"I urged Bush to take action against the Iranian nuclear facilities and explained why I thought ther
Bolton: "how the British would respond if terrorists exploded a nuclear device at home? 'It's only Manchester?'
e was no alternative,” said Podhoretz. “I laid out the worst-case scenario – bombing Iran – versus the worst-case consequences of allowing the Iranians to get the bomb.”
He said he also told Bush: “You have the awesome responsibility to prevent another Holocaust. You’re the only one with the guts to do it.” The president looked very solemn, Podhoretz said.
For the most part Bush simply listened, although he and then-advisor Karl Rove both laughed when Podhoretz mentioned giving “futility its chance”, a phrase used by another neoconservative, Robert Kagan, regarding pursuing United Nations sanctions against Iran.
“He gave not the slightest indication of whether he agreed with me, but he listened very intently,” Podhoretz said.
'No need for using nuclear weapons'
Podhoretz is convinced, however, that “George Bush will not leave office with Iran having acquired a nuclear weapon or having passed the point of no return” – a reference to the Iranians’ acquisition
Podhoretz told Bush: “You have the awesome responsibility to prevent another Holocaust. You’re the only one with the guts to do it.”
of sufficient technical capability to produce a nuclear weapon.
“The president has said several times that he will be in the historical dock if he allows Iran to get the bomb. He believes that if we wait for threats to fully materialize, we’ll have waited too long – something I agree with 100%,” Podhoretz said
Podhoretz told Bush that he thought America could strike Iran militarily without nuclear weaponry. “I’m against using nuclear weapons and I don’t think they are necessary,” he said. He believes the tepid British response to Iran’s seizure of Royal Navy hostages last spring strengthened Iran's determination to acquire nuclear weapons.
John Bolton, too, mentioned the naval incident: "They [Iran] got no response from the UK or the US," he said. "If you were the Iranian leader, what conclusion do you draw?"