Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

John Bolton, famously abrasive, is an experienced operator in the 'swamp'

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaks during CPAC 2018 According to old Donald Trump tweets, John Bolton shouldn't be US National Security Adviser
Glenn Montgomery | 28 March, 2018, 01:45

"Iraq was a waste of blood and treasure".

Over the past year, Ambassador Bolton has periodically visited the White House, to advise the POTUS. And to be perfectly honest it is much easier for Bolton to rattle sabers as a TV commentator with two minutes to be controversial and make an impression, than a National Security Advisor who makes recommendations that could be the difference between war and peace, life and death. With over a year to get his sea legs, Trump is feeling his oats and remaking the administration more in his image by surrounding himself with like-minded hawks.

And last but most relevant, Bolton's appointment could threaten that which President Trump holds most dear: the adoration of his base.

Who is John Bolton, and how likely is he to change the way the White House approaches foreign relations?

Radical nationalists, such as Barry Goldwater and, in more recent years, Jesse Helms and Dick Cheney, share the neoconservative disdain for worldwide institutions but have no real interest in democracy promotion.

"He was part of the Bush-Cheney crew that claimed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction". But he cleverly greeted Trump's announcement by describing it as "shock and awe" and an opportunity for Trump to give North Korea an ultimatum if it does not immediately begin "total denuclearization". Multiple members of the Trump cabinet have departed due to their public disagreements embarrassing the president; Bolton could well meet the same fate.

A pre-emptive strike on North Korea would risk a war of unprecedented proportions. "You can tell me right now or we'll start thinking of something else".

Also on Sunday, Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, spokesman for the influential parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, told the semi-official ISNA news agency that Bolton's appointment, as well as that of former CIA chief Mike Pompeo to US Secretary of State, "proves that the final US objective is overthrowing the Islamic Republic (of Iran)". This time, North Korea was the subject.

And The Diplomat noted that the timing is odd, coming as it does two weeks after Trump accepted an invitation from Kim Jon-un for a historic US-North Korea summit.

Earlier this year he appeared to oppose such talks happening at all. When the other panelists asked about the "millions" of South and North Koreans who would be killed in such a military intervention he pivoted and glibly argued that having North Korea have nuclear weapons was a worse outcome.

Bolton has a well-established reputation as a hard-liner, often advocating military action over diplomacy - including most recently as a high-profile contributor on conservative-leaning FOX News, a Trump favorite.

Unfortunately, all of these alarming traits - an overreliance on force, carelessness in judgment, and disdain of the rest of the world - make Bolton a flawless fit for the Trump Administration.

But not all of Mr Bolton's views coincide with those of the President. Still more, Brown University's Cost of War project estimates that between 2015 and October 2017 the USA military conducted air and drone strikes on seven countries and had combat troops deployed in 15 more. "They're anxious about the pressure that the president has already put on". How hard will it be for Bolton to shape those impulses into something more in line with his own vision?

He was an ambassador to the United Nations in the mid-2000s.

Back in 1994 he was quoted saying the USA was the world's "only real power".

"With him as Nat Sec Adv, @POTUS will continue to keep America strong and secure".

But critics on both sides of politics have slammed the appointment.

As he confronts matters of war and peace with North Korea and Iran, Trump is bringing in an adviser likely to magnify many of his own instinctive qualities: hard-hitting, fiercely nationalistic and eager to confront USA adversaries. They, too, tried to channel the president's go-it-alone impulses, but neither was skillful enough.

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