The U.S. risks undermining its global economic interests by failing to project stronger, more assertive leadership in key strategic conflicts around the world, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told a gathering of top executives during a morning policy briefing the Bay Area Council convened on Wednesday (March 11). From nuclear negotiations with Iran, to the Russian-Ukraine conflict, to China’s territorial push into the South China Sea, Bolton characterized the current U.S. posture as “appallingly weak.” The Republican standard-bearer, who served as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security under President George W. Bush, said that without a tougher U.S. military, economic and diplomatic response to what he called President Vladimir Putin’s territorial “adventures,” Russia may be emboldened to look next to the Baltic states.

Working now as a Senior Fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and regular commentator on Fox News, Bolton offered strong criticism of negotiations by the Obama Administration with Iran over its nuclear program and said the current agreement would invite a Middle East nuclear arms race. And while “no one is looking for a hostile relationship with China,” Bolton said that country’s aggressive push to control the South China Sea should be met with a stronger U.S. response to protect our country’s and our allies’ economic interests in one of the world’s busiest and most economically strategic shipping lanes.

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