Former President Donald Trump's national security adviser, former Ambassador John Bolton, told Newsmax Wednesday that the former president did not truly "understand" international relations or "America's place in the world."
"I think the overall judgment you have to make is that fundamentally, Trump didn't understand international relations, didn't understand America's place in the world, didn't understand how to protect our interests," Bolton said during "Eric Bolling The Balance" on Wednesday. "We were fortunate we didn't have a really dramatic international crisis during his tenure."
Bolton said that there is "no guarantee" we won't face a crisis in the four years following the next election and that this is a "very dangerous time" for the country in international relations.
"I think just speaking as a citizen, we need to hear from all the presidential candidates' views on international affairs much more than we talk about them in the presidential campaign," he said. "I don't think we give nearly enough attention to the risks we face as a country."
He also disagreed with the former president that Russian President Vladimir Putin's fear of what Trump might do made him wait until President Joe Biden was elected to attack Ukraine.
"In the case of Putin, you have to remember there was an election in Ukraine 2019. It was possible — unlikely, but possible — that a candidate more amenable to the Russians would have been elected," he said. "So at that point, Putin had no particular reason to consider military action."
Bolton said he believes Putin would have waited to see whether Trump, if reelected, planned to withdraw from NATO, which would have made Putin's Ukrainian invasion "easier."
"I think what he was waiting for, if Trump were reelected, was to see if Trump carried through on what I certainly feared, which is Trump withdrawing from NATO," he said. "If he had done that, then the invasion of Ukraine would have been a lot easier."
Trump, on the other hand, has called Bolton a "moron" and said he used him to intimidate foreign leaders, Newsweek reported in January.
"I found John Bolton to be one of the dumbest people in Government but, I am proud to say, I used him well," Newsweek reported Trump writing on his Truth Social platform at the time.
While criticizing his former boss, Bolton did say that Trump enacted some good foreign policies during his term.
"I think Trump was exactly right in saying every member of NATO should live up to the commitment that they made," he said. "But if you just read my book, you would see where there are passages about Trump discussing his views of NATO. He was very negative about NATO. Pressuring the Europeans to do the right thing to strengthen NATO, I think, was the correct policy. But I think Trump, because of his feeling about unfair trade negotiations with the Europeans and other reasons, really wanted to get out of NATO."
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