John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, tells NRO that North Korea and Iran can “smell the desperation” of the Obama administration following its decision this week to send Stephen W. Bosworth, a senior U.S. diplomat, to North Korea for direct talks with the government there on its nuclear program.
“This is a decision reflective of the desperation that this administration has to find some kind of diplomatic success,” says Bolton. “Their desperation is highlighted by the humiliating treatment they recently received from Iran. Our adversaries, like Iran and North Korea, can smell the desperation. It leaves us in a weak negotiating position.”
“The Obama administration’s policy really is negotiating,” says Bolton. “I’ve always said that negotiating is a tactic, not a policy. This push for process over substance is, institutionally, typical of too many within State department.”
“A lot of this administration is a reaction to the Bush administration,” observes Bolton. “They saw us as unwilling to negotiate with friends or adversaries, which, of course, is not true. But they’re acting on that perception.”
Ultimately, says Bolton, decisions like this “signal weakness” to our adversaries. “Clearly it encourages North Korea and Iran to hold out for better and better terms, as they already have done. Believe me, they are reading each other’s playbook.”