Bolton Criticizes ‘Weakness’ in Biden Admin’s Policy on Iran Threats

Bolton Criticizes ‘Weakness’ in Biden Admin’s Policy on Iran Threats
John Bolton unveils the Trump Administration's Africa strategy at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, on Dec. 13, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
4/15/2024
Updated:
5/21/2024

Former national security adviser John Bolton said the Biden administration displayed “weakness” in policies in the Middle East when it advised Israel not to retaliate against Tehran.

“The Biden administration is putting it out that they basically said to Israel, not only are we not going to participate in retaliation, you shouldn’t either because no Jews died,” Mr. Bolton said during an interview on NewsNation on April 14. “This is the kind of weakness that they also displayed in not attacking Shia militia in Iraq and Syria until three Americans died. Despite 160 attacks by those militants before that.”
On April 13, Iran launched explosive drones and shot missiles at Israel in what has been described as its first direct attack on the country. The Islamic regime has said that the attack was carried out after Israel bombed a Syrian compound in early April that left seven high-ranking members of its Revolutionary Guard Corps dead.

Israel said it successfully intercepted 99 percent of over 300 drones and missiles during the attacks with the help of the United States and other allies.

President Joe Biden condemned Iran’s attacks “in the strongest possible terms.” The president said he talked with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “to reaffirm America’s ironclad commitment to the security of Israel.”

During the interview, Mr. Bolton suggested that Israel should retaliate against Iran, saying, “It’s imperative that Israel strike decisively. Not proportionately, disproportionately, to reestablish deterrence, and to convince the terrorist proxies that Iran has set up and its Ring of Fire strategy, that they’re not intimidated by what happened last night.”

The Israeli war cabinet held a meeting on April 14 to discuss a response to the attack. Iran warned that any retaliation by Israel would lead to a “decisive and much stronger response.”

However, the White House said the United States would not participate in any retaliatory attack against Tehran as the administration wants to prevent further escalation that might cause a broader conflict in the region. “We don’t seek a war with Iran. We’re not looking for escalation here,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told NBC on April 14.

The comments came after some media reports stated that President Biden warned Mr. Netanyahu that he would not support retaliatory action against Iran during a phone call on April 13. It is unclear whether Mr. Netanyahu and his government will follow President Biden’s advice.

Mr. Bolton backed his call for Israeli retaliation by citing concerns over Iran’s nuclear weapons program potentially targeting Israel in future attacks. He suggested that the Biden administration “should proudly join” with Israel if it decides to take action against Iran’s nuclear program.

“This is an American interest to make sure that Iran, which is the principal threat to international peace and security in the region, is at a minimum put in its place to spare Israel, to spare the Gulf Arabs, to spare us from the threat that they posed,” Mr. Bolton said in another interview on CNN on Sunday.

Mr. Bolton then listed possible Iranian targets for Israeli retaliation including Iran’s air defense, military headquarters, oil infrastructure, and most importantly, Tehran’s nuclear weapons program.

Iran on Sunday warned Israel and the United States that it would carry out a larger attack if either country retaliates against Tehran’s overnight missile and drone attack, saying that U.S. military bases could be in its crosshairs.

“Our response will be much larger than tonight’s military action if Israel retaliates against Iran,” armed forces chief of staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri told state-run media, saying Iran warned the United States that any support of an Israeli counterattack against Iran would lead to American bases being targeted.

Meanwhile, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have called for a strong and immediate response to the strikes, while other lawmakers like Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) have raised concerns about the potential escalation of the conflict.

Emel Akan and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.
Aaron Pan is a reporter covering China and U.S. news. He graduated with a master's degree in finance from the State University of New York at Buffalo.