Bolton pushes US to strike Iran directly to ‘send a message’

John Bolton

Former national security adviser John Bolton urged the Biden administration to authorize strikes in Iran directly, so it can “send a message.”

In an interview with CBS News’ Catherine Herridge, Bolton said the retaliatory strikes fired by the U.S. military on Friday were the “right thing to do” but also said he doesn’t “think it will be enough.”

“They have declared a red line against any targets inside their borders,” Bolton said. ” Well, they crossed an American red line by killing Americans and until we cross their red lines, they will not view this as a serious problem.”

“I’m not saying this first attack has to be regime threatening. There are lots of targets inside Iran, Quds Force bases, air defense systems and others that would be a good thing to destroy and which would send the message,” he continued. “If the Iranian government doesn’t get it, we can send more messages.”

U.S. Central Command said it began airstrikes on Iranian-backed groups in Syria and Iraq around 4 p.m. EST Friday against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and “affiliated militia groups.”

The retaliatory strikes come after three U.S. soldiers were killed in Jordan last weekend. Bolton, who served in the Trump administration, said that as it nears the one-week mark since their deaths, it was surprising that the Biden administration did not act sooner.

President Biden, who attended the return of the soldiers to U.S. soil, released a statement after the strikes, saying the air strikes would continue “at times and places of our choosing.”

“The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world,” Biden added. “But let all those who might seek to do us harm know this: If you harm an American, we will respond.”

Bolton has previously called for the U.S. to send disproportionate attacks in response to the deaths of the military members. Iranian officials warned Wednesday that the country would respond “decisively” to any threats from the United States.

On Friday, Bolton said the approach chosen by the U.S. was “just not a significant enough retaliation.”

He also criticized the Biden administration for displaying weakness “throughout this crisis,” beginning when militant group Hamas invaded Israel in a surprise attack on Oct. 7, sparking the ongoing war in Gaza.

With Yemeni-backed Houthi rebels targeting ships in the Red Sea, Bolton said he thinks it sends a “bad signal” to Iran, Russia and China, and the more delay on acting, the “greater the impression the administration is in disarray.”

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