ThinkProgress filed this report from the Conservative Principles Conference in Des Moines, IA.
For years, former UN Ambassador John Bolton has been on a one-man mission to open up a new war in Iran. Last fall, he called for an immediate attack on Iran “in the next eight days.” When that didn’t happen, Bolton pointed to the downfall of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak this winter as a reason to “speed that timetable up” on an Iranian attack.
ThinkProgress spoke with Bolton, who is weighing a run for the Republican presidential nomination, at the Conservative Principles Conference in Iowa. Despite current military engagements in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, Bolton urged the United States to also keep its focus on “the great risk” of Iran. When asked whether our bombing of Libya means we’re shifting focus away from Iran, Bolton argued for attacking both, declaring “I think a president’s got to walk and chew gum at the same time”:
KEYES: You’ve been a real leader on engaging in confrontation with Iran. Do you think the situation in Libya makes that more or less pressing to engage and potentially attack Iran?
BOLTON: I think Iran is currently taking advantage of the turmoil in the Middle East to advance its own hegemonic aspirations in the region. It’s clearly interfered in the situation in Bahrain and it would like to interfere in Saudi Arabia. I think the real essence of the problem long-term is Iran’s continuing support for terrorism, it’s continuing pursuit of nuclear weapons. As we focus on Libya or Egypt or other headlines of the day, we shouldn’t lose sight that the great conflict, the great risk is an expansive Iran.
KEYES: Would you say we’re taking our eye off the ball of attacking Iran?
BOLTON: I think a president’s got to walk and chew gum at the same time. Part of the problem is the president doesn’t even like to be involved in the foreign affairs field, and when he does get involved his attention appears episodic. Having sent American forces into combat in Libya, he went to South America.
Despite Tea Party rumblings about the size of the federal debt, Bolton is urging the country to get engaged in another costly and open-ended war. As ThinkProgress noted, in FY2011, the Afghan war alone cost $113 billion, enough money to pay for over 1.6 million teachers, firefighters, or police officers.