Young Americans for Freedom at DePaul hosts former UN Ambassador John Bolton

Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton speaks to students last week at an event sponspored by Young Americans for Freedom. (Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore)
Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton speaks to students last week at an event sponsored by Young Americans for Freedom. (Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore)

As part of the Young Americans for Freedom’s Time for Choosing Initiative, John Bolton, a U.S. diplomat and lawyer, spoke at DePaul’s campus on Tuesday, Oct. 14.

The Young Americans for Freedom is DePaul’s student project of Young America’s Foundation. They aim to bring the conservative message to the nation’s college campuses.

Inspired by President Ronald Reagan’s “A Time for Choosing” speech, this initiative examines how Reagan’s speech propelled the conservative movement.

As a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, appointed by President George W. Bush, Bolton provided his insight into this topic.

Comparing Reagan to incumbent President Barack Obama, Bolton said the two have a “radically different” national security worldview. According to Bolton, this difference is rooted in how Obama views the issue: National security is not much of a priority to him, the rest of the world is not threatening or challenging, and he “does not believe in American exceptionalism.”

Criticizing Obama’s approach to international affairs, Bolton said, “Our country’s response to Putin was weak,” due to a desire “to strengthen poor U.S. Russia relations.” He believes that Obama should be doing something about China’s growing dominance over trade coming from the Middle East.

Furthermore, Bolton said Obama sees America as too strong and “the contributor to the problem, not the solver of the problem.”

While Obama’s removal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 and made “dramatic cuts in defense spending,” Bolton believes these decisions were mistakes. According to Bolton, a “strong American presence in the world is critical in preserving our way of life here at home.”

Two DePaul students at the event did not agree with Bolton’s idea of America’s presence in other countries.

Alexander Bisenius, a DePaul senior studying political science, believes it is America’s responsibility to preserve democracy in the world. However, Bisenius preferred the idea of isolationism;.

“It’s just not forcing ourselves on other places. It’s finding pragmatic diplomatic solutions,” Bisenius said.

DePaul junior Patrick Herron studies PR and advertising. Herron said, “I think his policies are not fit for this time.”

Like Bisenius, Herron disagreed with Bolton’s concept of a strong American presence.

While the event was meant to focus on Reagan and his memorable speech, several times Bolton mentioned Obama and how decisions made during his administration have led to problems overseas.  “Many of the problems we are facing now are not due to more recent foreign policy decisions, but due to the foreign policy decisions between 2001 and 2009,” Herron said.

With the upcoming presidential elections in sight, Bolton did make it clear that it is now a time for choosing what position the country holds in the world.