John Bolton on Negotiating with Terrorists

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton joins us this morning to debate the proper way to interact with North Korea and the resurgence of former President Bill Clinton. Clinton returned to the national spotlight when he made a surprise trip to North Korea to negotiate the release of two American journalists held by the closed communist country. Even while the behind-the-scenes negotiations for the journalists release were happening, North Korea was testing missiles and escalating verbal tensions with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. So what does Clinton’s trip do, if anything, for the nuclear issues at the heart of our country’s North Korean agenda? Ambassador Bolton has some strong opinions on that subject.

Click through for a transcript of this interview.


Ambassador John Bolton

Hosted by:

Amy Holmes

Comments [18]

Laila from New York

It’s a relief to hear John Bolton say that he is not a Neo-con. That’s all right then. But it’s frightening to hear him propose that the US should cast away the “reset button” and return to the Cold War days with Russia and China. So this is the foreign policy program of the intended Secretary of State of a President Romney Administration? God help the US and the world.

Aug. 27 2012 12:54 PM
Sean F

care to provide an example of Amb. Bolton's "Illogical prattle"?

Aug. 06 2009 11:00 PM
Sean F

Mr. Hockenberry demonstrated more than bad manners to an invited guest, "don't go down that road Bolton", good lord, do you think Amb. Bolton has any idea who you are? you never introduced yourself before your boorish, irrational diatribe. Comparing the imprisoned journalists to Gitmo detainees was trumped by the "cameras in the pentagon" analogy. When Amb. Bolton referred to Reagan and Iran-Contra, it was as a cautionary tale regarding the danger of hostage payoffs with bad actors, but Mr. Hockenberry assumed it was to praise Reagan, when the Ambassadors' intention was the opposite. If your program intends to debate Amb. Bolton in future consider bringing in someone who can articulate their position with some coherence, never mind common courtesy. Mr. Hockenberry was embarrassing, hearing him rant against Amb. Bolton brought to mind the Sean Connery line from "The Untouchables", (to paraphrase), don't bring a knife to a gunfight.

Sean F

Aug. 06 2009 10:58 PM
Jeff Mortensen

I appreciated the forthright refusal of John Hockenberry to let Bolton spout his illogical prattle. The way he cut him off and stood his ground made me smile. Bolton's worldview is obviously not universally accepted, thank goodness.

Aug. 06 2009 05:41 PM
D. Smith

Contrary to what John Bolton implies, violators of the U.S. immigration laws are frequently put in prison for an indefinite amount of time (see the front page of today's NY Times, Aug. 6th). Some have even died in custody under mysterious circumstances. What would have happened to a N. Korean (or Mexican) who crossed the U.S. border without appropriate documents. And what would be the possibility that a U.S. president could pardon the intruder without a firestorm of protests, and serious political damage.

Aug. 06 2009 02:55 PM
jonny goldstein

I appreciate you challenging Bolton, John. That said, you might want to take a page from his book and keep a calm, even tone of voice. That served him well, even though some of his statements were way off the mark, he came off as being reasonable.

Still, glad you are mixing it up.

Aug. 06 2009 12:15 PM
Harvey Bernstein

I don't understand the "lack of courtesy" comment. Was John Hokenberry supposed to allow "temporarily appointed, but never confirmed as ambassador" Bolton spout his talking points without probing. Bolton has already gotten to do that on a dozen media venues. Thank you John H., for challenging him a little.

BTW, he has been refining his spiel over the last day as holes have been poked in his sour grapes gripe.

If it wasn't for a conservative think tank Bolton couldn't afford to groom his mustache. That recess appointment as ambassador is his meal ticket.

Aug. 06 2009 11:10 AM
D. Smith

When George W. Bush assumed the presidency, S. Korea was engaged in reconciliation talks with N. Korea. The Bush administration looked upon this with disfavor, and here we are 8 years later with a nuclear armed N. Korea after the Bush administration instituted policies that caused N. Korea to expel all international inspectors and to remove all restraints on their weapons development. And John Bolton supported administration actions that precipitated this chain of events. I challenge you to produce evidence to the contrary.

Aug. 06 2009 10:50 AM
D. Smith

Contrary to John Bolton's claim, not only has the U.S. negotiated with terrorists, they have been put on the U.S. government payroll. That's the dirty little open secret about the "surge" in Iraq. And much of this happened before the increase in troop levels in Anbar.

Joe Conason, Slate, 07/25/2009
"What changed the minds of the Sunni rebels in Anbar province and elsewhere was a revamped counterinsurgency doctrine that emphasized careful bribery over indiscriminate reprisals...."

Aug. 06 2009 10:41 AM

Bolton is right on this issue, has been right on North Korea in the past including when he opposed the Bush administration's approach in the last few years, and will continue to be right. NK has committed four times in the last 20 years to stop their nuclear activities but keep restarting. In case anyone has any doubts, they don't keep their word.

Negotiations with NK can't continue in the same failed pattern where we offer concessions in exchange for their promises of good behavior, they breach their promises, and we don't take back our concessions, they gain, we lose. A guy like Bolton understands how they work. It seems few others in our government do.

Aug. 06 2009 10:31 AM

Hockenberry sounded foolish comparing the two journalists accidentally wandering across a remote stream to two people sneaking into the pentagon to take photos. Then Hockenberry really betrays his idiocy by saying "Well, that’s for the North Koreans to decide, not me." when asked if 12 years of hard labor in a North Korean prison was an appropriate punishment. At least Amy acted as a straight journalist.

What about all the Japanese and South Koreans who have been kidnapped and are still imprisoned by North Korea? I guess that's for NK to decide as well.

What I heard on the show this morning is Hockenberry let his personal animosity toward Bolton overpower his obligation to act as a professional journalist. And apparently his audience eats that kind of thing up, judging by the comments here. Kinda a liberal Bill O'Reilly with a bunch of dittoheads fawning their approval.

Aug. 06 2009 10:29 AM

I was surprised at the inanity of John Hockenberry's remarks to Amb. Bolton,e.g., "that is for tha N. Koreans to decide" i.e. the prison sentences for walking acroos the border. and the lack of courtesy shown to Mr. Bolton by him in general. Mr. Bolton, whom other respondents dislike and wish to keep off the air, like it or not, presented his views well and appeared more reasoned than John.

Aug. 06 2009 10:27 AM
Dennis Costello

...and another thing; Bolton's position could be seen as something more than the bitter rants of a failure if he could explain why talking at all with North Korea is encouraging the Terrorists, and yet it somehow morally correct to have full diplomatic and economic relations with China who are guilty of the same acts of brutal repression and human rights abuse-other than China doing it on an even larger scale.

Aug. 06 2009 10:05 AM
Dennis Costello

A chief difference between the two American journalists and the detainees at Gitmo, is that the North Koreans gave them a trial. It would be nice if all it took to detain someone is having a high ranking government official call them "bad guys" and "terrorists". Bolton didn't mention the hundreds of detainees who were held for years only to be eventually released with no trial or explanation. Bolton is the classic demonstration that when you put sour grapes under pressure and give it some time, all you get is whine.

Aug. 06 2009 09:44 AM

Why do you have Bolton on? He is to diplomacy what John Wayne Gacy was to childcare. He is a belligerent bigot and wont be happy until World War 3 is declared. He is generally derided on the world stage after his disasterous tenure as hatchet man to the UN and only gets an opportunity to parade his bile in this country. Don't indulge him.

Aug. 06 2009 09:42 AM

The world is a measurably worse place because John Bolton has had a say in US policy. He has not been correct in any of his prognostications, but he has managed to actually harm our diplomatic activities in a number of cases. You ask today who we wish we could just vote off our radars, I vote for Bolton. He has no current role to play--beyond troll--it is time for the likes of the Takeaway and the Washington Post to stop giving this nasty, bellicose shill the time and space to spread his self-serving, world-hurting filth.

Aug. 06 2009 09:37 AM

Thanks you John H. for not letting Bolton get away with his talking points unquestioned.

Aug. 06 2009 09:32 AM

John Bolton and the rest of the EXTREME RIGHT WING will NEVER find anything good to say about the Obama administration! What would he say if the administration had done nothing?

Aug. 06 2009 09:27 AM

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