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Putin and the Presidents: John Bolton (interview) | FRONTLINE
- Published on Feb 8, 2023 veröffentlicht
- John Bolton served as national security advisor to President Donald Trump from 2018 to 2019. He was previously the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and is the author of The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.
The following interview was conducted by the Kirk Documentary Group’s Michael Wiser for FRONTLINE on Sept. 29, 2022. It has been edited for clarity and length.
This interview is being published as part of FRONTLINE’s Transparency Project, an effort to open up the source material behind our documentaries. Explore the transcript of this interview, and others, on the FRONTLINE website: www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/in...
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Comments • 2 082
I now view the one-hour Frontline documentary as the lead-in to these much more valuable in-depth interviews. Thank you PBS for producing such amazing online content.
PBS really hit it out of the park with these Frontline interviews. I love these in-depth takes, they are much more informative than the hot takes on news channels.
@Lois Hawkes who cares
@Nic Otero gay
PBS These interviews are amazing. Great stuff. Hearing Bolton speak himself and the questions posed to him. Outstanding! Please keep these amazing interviews coming.
Michael Wiser Is an amazing interviewer
You love war
@Joel A I have no idea what he looks like, but hosts on news networks could learn something from him, particularly not interrupting those he is interviewing....(looking at you Morning Joe)!
One of the best geopolitical series ever compiled. Thanks so much.
I might not agree with his conclusions, but he's a clear-headed thinker and not shy about sharing those conclusions. He gave me things to think about.
Yeah, Bolton's a warhawk, but he's not a idiot, far from it. I was shocked about what he revealed about Trump though, didn't know things were THAT bad behind the scenes.
Very interesting! A perspective on many presidents that I have not heard before
I actually appreciate these long form interviews. If you can read people well, it unveils a lot.
Completely agree with you. I can usually tell how intelligent someone is after ~2 mins, but these long form interviews reveal so much more than just intelligence.
@Chris K o
Did you figure out he's all about War yet....if not then go back n listen again lol
@danny pomeroy I figured out he knows he doesn't have a chance in hell of winning the presidency if he announced his candidacy on the BBC of all networks
Excellent PBS series of interviews related to Ukraine. A lot of ambassador Bolton's views are overly aggressive, yet I respect the logic and clarity of his rationales.
As for his comments about trump...spot on. "Trump doesn't do policy"
I remember in the 2016 debates, trump was asked about the priorities on modernizing the nuclear triad. It was crystal clear that Trump didn't even have a clue what the triad was.
Well he thinks we should exert our power, that’s his opinion. But he definitely earned his position; he’s no dummy.
@B Bodziak I think I know the answer. The FSB called those who could unwittingly support Russia "Useful Idiots".
In these dangerous times we need politicians that are aggressive on our side.
These interviews reveal a series of errors in assessing processes in Putin's Russia that Putin has carried over into foreign "politics" like war and terrorism. This all led to a big war in Europe. So I put a dislike.
John Bolton claims that the current US administration failed to deter Putin from invading Ukraine and we can all draw that conclusion. But it would have been of interest in this context to hear which measures Bolton believes would have had a deterrent effect.
Remember this is the guy who helped design the American war against Iraq.
Which measures? Maybe following the Minsk agreement to start lol?
@Robert Pajkovski 95% of the comments here are bots man
This was a superb interview with a breathtaking range of knowledge from the guest. I was spellbound listening
Shut up John!😎
Im not a fan on Bolton's politics but I was pleasantly surprised by how candid he was in the interview.
war criminal bolton
Speaking of people responsible for unjustified invasions… I find it hard to be grateful of John Bolton.
The world is complicated, grow up
@Cbskwkdnsl Whanznamdm How old are you? I'm grown up and know what we've done for decades.
Neolibs say the enemy of my enemy is my friend! Azov Nazis, anyone? 😂
@Farzana 🇺🇸 and yet Azov Nazis will die in Bakhmut.
These are an excellent series of interviews! Well done!
Love the insight you get from these interviews.
How it’s love if now pbs are working for our governments spreading hate against Russia
This guy is a close minded
@Junior Roselyn Roselyn He's literal definition of a war criminal, this guy is not just close minded, he's been fascistic in every single action he took while he was in power. I'm amazed that he's giving interviews instead of rotting in a jailcell.
@Farmazone Bolton is 100% pure weasel
Finally!!! understanding the meaning of information, factual information!!! And making it available at a large spectrum, this medium est great and you are doing a great job!!!
As others have noted, these interviews provide more detailed insight than the final product. And John Bolton delivers the unambiguous view of a hawk which, sadly, is often the necessary approach. But, oh how he loves his pen 😄
What was hawkish about anything he said?
@Mick Shagger That's a very good question. The whole hawk/dove distinction is fundamentally flawed. But he clearly favors military solutions to foreign policy problems more than many of us would. But few of us are decision makers in these matters. And we don't have all the facts.
You didnt answer my question
Provide timestamps for "hawkish" moments in the interview
Also very self serving. Blaming Obama for US cynicism online while never mentioning Republicans tells me that he’s a just a partisan.
Thanks so much Frontline 💯♥️,these are just awesome interviews and everyone learns so much ! Absolutely brilliant!
Always interesting to listen to Mr Bolton.
Yes, from the perspective of abnormal psychology. His contributions to the ABM treaty withdrawal and the Iraq invasion, alone, place him in the category of worst people we ever allowed near the reins of power.
@Jim Cameron He was right about getting Russia amd Putin though.
Had Ukraine been allowed into NATO, this invasion would never have happened.
While was very partisan about obama and biden, he was very clear and honest about what a dumb car crash Trump was. Really appreciate his honesty and insights.
Great interview. Sums it up very nicely
John is one of those that you hate for the right reasons but have not other than admire him for the same reasons.
it is interesting to hear very intelligent people talk about these issues as they are playing out. im glad guys like bolton are running things behind the scenes.
PBS you are amazing. Thank you. These interviews are just amazing.
I agree! I wish there was a separate notification when one of these interviews is posted instead of being lumped in with everything the channel posts.
Lol nice joke 😂
Excellent interview, amazing incite and more.
More of this. John Bolton was insightful one of the better interviews I think.
Agreed. But his answers about Obama’s policies weren’t very intelligent.
@Tim Schnell He was exactly correct about both Trump and Obama. Your hero Obama was not the smartest operator out there.
But he was still smarter than Trump.
@Farzana 🇺🇸 He wasn’t, though.
19:55 - It was a bit ignorant of John Bolton to criticize Obama for attempting to be, of all things, a peacekeeper, as a new president, especially after the fiasco of Bush looking into Putin's "soul". At 20:20 , criticizing Obama's response as "weak". It wasn't. Russia sent in units not wearing uniforms - so they couldn't be connected back to Russia - to fight against Ukraine. Figuring out how to support an ally who is fighting an enemy - the latter of whom has ultimate deniability over their foreign involvement - isn't an easy call; nuance in a president’s response is necessary
The remark at the 14-minute mark concerning Canada is quite right and surprisingly candid. At the official level, Canada frequently makes out like a bandit in its arrangements with the US, and gets away with being tediously sanctimonious. That's its consolation. In the areas of cross-border flow of talent and of companies bashing it out cross-border, Canada does not make out so well. All in all, nobody much resents the other party for the things that go their way, and on the whole it is a situation much to be admired.
"We have got to be as clear-eyed about this as Putin is and not overreact and not be in the situation where he´s deterring us rather than us deterring him."
American foreign policy in the oven.
Kind of a catchy word salad. Though, as we now know, Putin was far from clear-eyed.
@Rona Goodwell What makes you think that he's not?
@SolSere Jeremy Putin was blind, deaf and delusional about every aspect of this war.
Amazing interview, thanks!
The ending was fantastic...what a joy to look forward to. 😔 What a legacy the baby boomers left for us. Thanks for that... 🙃 Oh, and we also have to solve global warming, the energy crisis, the water crisis, the food crisis, the peace crisis...is there a crisis they haven't left us with? I feel like we're on the verge of a second dark age...
14:10 ff "we have a sphere of influence in Canada but we don't tell them what to do, I mean they tell us what to do more than we tell them what to do, in a sense."
As a Canadian I just have to laugh my head off at this comment and note that emphasis should be put on the final phrase "in a sense"
Right on Peter.
yeah... Like "You should bend us more and do whatever suits you". This is " they tell us what to do" in a sense.
What more should one expect from a (neocon) walrus?🤣
@David Olin Du Vivier Could you explain that comment to me, a walrus is a pretty big a bit odd looking animal, slow and lumbering around, if I understand it correctly, is it something to do with the wiskers/stash?
Translation: they tell us what to do but we don't give a damn and do the complete opposite.
Good interviewer and interviewee. Well done FRONTLINE. If we like it or not, we need these long form interviews to work through the nuance of geopolitics.
What world is this man living in? (8:47)
Thank you for sharing this. It brings value into our own perspectives.
Absolutely. This interview was conducted in late September of 2022. I think that it's important to know from the start of this interview.
Now this man…he’s on point!!!
Good interview. The way was conducted was great. Clear questions ... and clear answers
I have enjoyed all of the interviews in this ongoing interview series.
A person who sees the necessity of things regards their passage with calm and composure , would seem to sum up Mr Putin.
John Bolton is a wise man. Great interview.
Of course, before you use a word like "wise", you should know what that word means!
Watching this man speak makes me think of a line from T.S. Eliot: "Do not let me hear of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly."
I guess this comment made you feel better about your meaningless existence
But you are not hearing of the wisdom of old men. You are hearing directly from the old man.
"we were optimistic at the beginning" first policy he mentions -- getting US out of the missile treaty. John Bolton ladies and gentlemen! Never change war hawk dude.
Outstanding interview, as always! Love these long form interviews. So inciteful.
Don't share Bolton's politics. I do respect him as one would a worthy adversary. Don't like that he put his duty to report aside to profit from a book on the Trump fiasco, but he is a knowledgeable Foreign Policy expert with very strong observational and analytical skills.
John Bolton is the guy you keep in a box for when all else fails.
@OutnBacker Yes, a very dark and remote box indeed.
Bolton is a person who should never be in public forums ever.
Bolton is right when characterizing Putin's assessment of Trump.
Putin didn't have the guts to attack Ukraine while Trump as in office, though.
@Jeanne90275 The war began in 2014.
@Jeanne90275 Putin was using trump and trump was doing exactly what Putin wanted. Was trump going to send American troops into Russia if Putin invaded Ukraine please explain why Putin was so scared of trump?
Really amazing interview. All the answers and questions were great. Well done.
Why is he obsessed talking about the ABM treaty? Why would a rational mind believe that more nuclear proliferation would be a good thing for the world, and if both the U.S. and Russia agreed to a non-treaty, that nuclear proliferation would bring us closer together? This guy is a nut.
Excellent interview. "Trump asked if Finland was part of Russia" no words here....
Perhaps Trump wanted to buy Finland from Russia and build some golf courses on the tundra like he offered to buy Greenland from Denmark.
"Greenland is a bigly island and it's green, just look at the name-GREENland, all the best greens for my new golf course in the new town I'll build, in the new capital of Greenland, I'll called it Golden Mushroom, Greenland. Everyone knows I build the best courses and the Eskimos who live there really want to play golf, and they probably can't afford the membership fees but they can work there, for $2 an hour." -Donald J. Trump, in his sales pitch when negotiating with the Danish Prime Minister.
Finland was part of Russia. Didn't you know it?
@Alex Okunnur I highly doubt Trump would have known that. I'm going on a limb here and say very few Americans know European history that well.
@Alex Okunnur Finland kicked Russia’s ass.
@SOG in Vietnam - Retracing the Past few Americans know anything at all about the world not Europe only. But they have Hollywood and now Netflix! So why bother? :-)
I believe you’re right and his speech on the 24th last year between said it all he said exactly what he wants and we’ll see how long it takes for him to realize it’s not possible
this hit so hard. John Bolton speaks with so much fluidity and clarity around serious topics.
He understands and has influenced a lot in geopolitical tractions of interest to the US - the murk that comes with it as well.
I have a feeling Bolton gets very frustrated being in discussions with others that don't have his aptitude for foreign affairs.
@B Bodziak Or his level of intelligence and insight.
Thanks for posting, great comment !
I think John Bolton is a super slimy dude but I find myself very grateful for his first-hand accounts of some truly insane moments in history and a glimpse into the backroom thinking of the people involved who run the World. I don't think he's a liar. I think he's just a super slimy dude. He takes a certain pride in what he does, like a Tom Clancy novel character. This is a really enlightening interview, thank you PBS
I have my doubts about Bolton's "truths", but I do believe you have nailed how to perceive him : A true Tom Clancy old school governmental "hawk" character. Good comment!
Even though you might not agree with him (lol) he spells it out the way he sees it. Have to respect the man.
He did take a knee to the dark lord.
i wish tom clancy was still alive. His fictional stuff always turns out to become reality. He was so good at judging characters, scenarios and espionage at the highest levels.
That was a brilliant interview 👍
he knows his stuff
When Putin speaks with an English speaker, he does the translation for the translator.
Where as TFG wants a cheeseburger.
he has done the same with a German translator.
It's a part of Putin trying to maintain control and to have the upper hand. It gives him a few extra moments to reply. I'm not sure if it's better for him to show his hand by correcting his translator or it'd be better for him to not do the correction. It seems it's be better for him to not point it out, but his ego gets ahead of him.
@B Bodziak Who's ego r u Tolkien about
Please post the long form interview with former US Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor! The man has the voice of authority!
Bolton’s hilarious 7:53 “we have your favorite room for you Mr.Bolton” and he say I knew what that meant lol (more bugs than a New York apartment) -electronic 😂
Bolton intentionally forgets the biggest mistake when dealing with Ukraine was to relinquish their nuclear arsenal.
They did not control the launch mechanism. They only had silos and missiles within Ukrainian territory.
‘Something happened between 2001 and 2006…’ 🤔 PNAC?
I remember hearing another guest in one of these interviews saying America’s invasion of Iraq shook Putin more than anything, he saw how they could set an agenda and defy democracy and international cooperation to achieve it and it scared him, from that point on he felt he had to have a much more aggressive and defensive position with the US and with the world. That strikes me as extremely insightful and accurate 🎯
"Mr Bolton we have reserved you favourite room." I knew what THAT meant!😄
In this interview the interviewer did not ask John Bolton what he would have done to prevent the Ukraine invasion... I would like to know that.
@David Cavalier I think that depends on when! If it was something on the lead up to the 2022 invasion only a warning of NATO will react as if Ukraine was a member state!
What did it mean?
@Karwash Blark That the room is bugged.
Learning so much from these interviews this is great!
Did not occur to me before that Putin was exploiting the NATO disputed border/ongoing conflict rule. So obvious now.
Wow.....respect PBS. In general, you "reported" on Bolton topics like he is the devil. Not providing any context or letting him defend himself in a setting like that.
Now? Letting him speak himself and not interrupting. Asking great questions which are trying to grasp what was going on behind the scenes. Thank you.
Afterall, I hope this kind of interview procedure continues and we can hope to see more of interesting content that increases broader understanding of certain situations
excellent interview... i learned a lot thk you 🤗
Said I loved you, but I lied
'Cause this is more than love I feel inside
Said I loved you, but I was wrong
'Cause love could never ever feel so strong
Said I loved you, but I lied
Thanks for this most interesting interview.
PBS.......thank you for these videos
This guys nativity is off the charts.
25:33 John tells it like it is. Love these Frontline videos, the interviewer is fantastic.
I wish you could interview ex Russian officials as well. Can Putin allow this to happen?
I would hope this interview goes viral. The people and government need to hear this insightful,naked truth.
It has to be said that this interview is one of the best I have ever listened to and the interviewer has to be among the greatest ever to be on a televised interview. And: judging from former Ambassador John Bolton's performance and inner-knowledge of the workings of his government and his analysis of President Trump, Obama and Biden, there is no doubt Bolton is a gifted geo-political analyst. One comes away from the interview thinking out loud how magnanimous and strategic and capable a president Mr Bolton would be should he ever try to run for president. Every single question was precision-guided and every single response by the former Ambassador clarified the dusky areas of international politics like a spot light shining into the dismal abyss of the real goings-on behind closed doors of international politics. He outlines President Putin as no other before him. Not having absolutely any knowledge or savoir faire in international politics of any kind, I am sticking my neck out to say that as someone living 2,000 kilometers from Kiev, here is how I see the war being over this coming August or at least severely diminishing it in size. If you want to confront an adversary you have to know what is his Achilles Heel. President Putin will throw in the towel, abandon his military folly, retire his forces back into Mother Russia when Crimea goes back in Ukrainian hands. Retired Lt. General Ben Hodges has said that the Ukraine will be able to take Crimea as a prize in 180 days more or less. Crimea must go back in Ukrainian hands he also adds, because if Russia controls Crimea, Odessa will forever be at the mercy of Russian naval forces in Sevastopol and the coastal cities of Ukraine, like Mariupol, will be forever under Russian domination. Crimea must fall and when it does President Putin will have his train go off the tracks politically and his grass roots support will evaporate.
Anybody else spend half the interview trying to imagine Bolton without the mustache?
Imagine how different his personality would seem if he had hair down to his ears like banning and no facial hair his personality would be read from a totally different lens
🤣 YES!!! OMG, I thought I was the only one!!!! HAHAHA! Thanks, George Carlin! =P
John Bolton comes off as a strong policy adviser not a “war monger” as the media portrayed him. I admire him and his efforts.
Ok....your ignorance on my position is evident.
he is a strong policy adviser. But he is also definitely a war-monger.
Quite simply the best analysis I’ve heard
I think something must be seriously wrong with him, after he said Germany and France were wrong about the Iraq. That's just hilarious
Mr. Bolton seems angry even though his body language is well controlled.
I don't really care for Bolton- he is more interested in enriching himself, than working with integrity. However I appreciate these interviews all the same.
7:55 "which I knew what that meant " meaning the rooms were equipped with surveillance devices
We'd almost be disappointed if they weren't haha. Russia isn't that incompetent lol
BRAVO 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻☝️ Agreed on Putin, and thank you for the generous comment of Canada😂 Forever let us be good friends, never neighbours and Elyese. God bless Canada. God bless America. God bless the people of the world.🎉❤
This is good stuff. Bolton knows what he speaks about!
"But in the KGB *we're* taught, thought, to think for yourself"
That moment was weird
John Bolton should join a debate with John Mearsheimer. How about two polar opposite views.
I’m not sure how debate is possible with Mearsheimer. The guy doesn’t acknowledge the environmental evolution of public admin, US and Russia.
This guy was my boss at Midwestern music
“I don’t think Trump fully understood the history of Ukraine and Russia….or much else in history” Around the 40 minute mark. Bolton goes right to the point. I love the dry delivery with full sincerity about an American President
I remember Bolton fighting with every fiber of his being propping up the Iraq war.
“Those who don’t know history are doomed to write love letters to Korean dictators.” -Some dead wise person.
I thought it was hilarious he thought Finland was a part of Russia.
I haven't always agreed with John Bolton, but in this talk I think he's very right. He's also very informative on his review of US approaches with Putin. In his statesmanship he is as important to the US as Generals Petraeus, Clark and Hodges are to our military.
Imagine being this close to have NATO disbanded
I didn't like John Bolton till this Interview. He's intelligent and experienced. Thank you for easing my mind!
I named my push broom after this guy, looks just like him and is about as useful
Hey PBS … just watched this after your interview with Julia Ioffe. You HAVE to have an interview with both of them together… the insight to Putin and Russia’s motives would be insane! Interview of the century! … seriously … you really do!
That was a great interview! Very accurate questions and very solid and reasonable answers by John Bolton! Please continue
Bolton is not perfect, just like the rest of us, but he is very articulate and knowledgeable. A good diplomat despite what the liberal media would tell you.
Well presented mixture of twisted half truth , some truth and results of his advices on foreign policy we watching live.
I really respect John Bolton and also Fiona Hill. They are sharp and updated all time they are in the public.
58:13 "We"re at the opening stages of a very, very long conflict, probably for the rest of the century" - John Bolton
Mr Bolton is ,as always presenting a sharp mind. Impressive to say the least. He understands all aspects of global relations. Thanks.
Like recognising that AH as president of Venezuela?
Some good insight there, and an excellent interviewer.
I disagree with some key points. For instance, I see it as outstanding luck just now that the US does not currently have the financial burden that was Afghanistan and a large piece of the US military is now free to be deployed as needed defend or deter.
Bolton is right on the way we should deal with geopolitical adversaries.
He is wrong about how we should deal with small, insignificant countries.
I think the questions are just as intriguing as the answers
When that person you don't like makes a good point...
Ambassador Bolton’s mustache game has always been strong.
That stash has some strong diplomacy in it
Real life Ned Flanders
Bolton's integrity is in question, so everything he says take with a grain of salt. He has duplicity issues.