WASHINGTON D.C. – The United States should pull its ambassador out of China to send a loud and clear message to both China and Russia that it will not tolerate the hiding of secrets-leaker Edward Snowden, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton says.
“The first thing I would do would be to send a message to China so the Russians would hear it,” Bolton told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.
“I’d pull our ambassador out of Beijing . . . I’d pull our consul general out of Hong Kong. I’d suspend all regular diplomatic contact with the Chinese. I’d suspend all military discussions, all military visits,” said Bolton, who was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under former President George W. Bush.
In addition, Bolton said, the U.S. should consider other restrictions to hammer home the seriousness of the Snowden controversy.
“I’d cut back on every official communication I could think of to show our displeasure. Then I’d look for things like trade issues, specific day-to-day issues of diplomacy where I’d start imposing costs on China,” he said.
Snowden is accused of espionage in the leaking of classified information about the anti-terrorism surveillance programs used by the National Security Agency.
He had been hiding in Hong Kong but was allowed to fly to Moscow — a move that has angered President Barack Obama, who has asked Russia to expel Snowden.
Bolton told Steve Malzberg that Snowden’s flight from justice — and the possibility he could end up in Cuba as some officials have suggested — brings up many questions.
“You can bet if he gets to Cuba he is beyond our control at that point. … The reality is that he’s made it from Hawaii to Hong Kong and Hong Kong at least on to Moscow without us being able to stop him and it raises a lot of questions,” Bolton said.
“Did the president call President Xi Jin Ping in China? Did [Secretary of State] John Kerry call his counterparts? Have they called [President] Vladimir Putin and [Foreign Minister] Sergey Lavrov in Russia? Or are they leaving it to lower level officials?”
“I’ve got to believe that if the president were really involved in it … you’d know it minute by minute. So far the White House is silent.”
Bolton said Putin is undoubtedly weighing different options to make a “cold-blooded calculation” on how far he believes the U.S. can be played with.
“If he thinks he’s going to be better sending Snowden on to Cuba because it shows he can push Obama around, he’ll do it,” Bolton said.
“If he thinks he might actually face consequences, then he may turn him over to us and claim credit for it to get more concessions on something else.”
Bolton believes one reason Russia and China have been playing cat and mouse with Snowden is because of the Obama administration’s weak foreign policy.
“They don’t think we’ve got a president who understands the world at large, who doesn’t pay attention to international affairs, who’s fundamentally weak,” Bolton said.
“When they see a weak, inattentive president … our adversaries take advantage of us, and our allies to distance themselves so they don’t feel the same pain.”
He also believes Obama has allowed other nations to bully the United States.
“Nine months after the killing of four Americans in Benghazi … with no retaliation whatever, people are saying to themselves … what do you think they’ll really do if we let this guy Snowden skip the country?” he said.
“The burden is on Obama here to show that he means what he said. Remember the red line with chemical weapons in Syria that took about six weeks to finally prove out? He needs to do something quickly.”