by David Parmer / Tokyo
In selecting John R. Bolton as his third National Security Advisor, it looks like Donald Trump has finally gotten what he both wants and needs: a political soul-mate with a world view so close to his own as to be almost indistinguishable. After going through two military men, Trump has finally found not just a conservative, but his kind of conservative, in Bolton.
Trump’s National Security Advisor is no “yes man” to Trump. He doesn’t have to be. Apparently the only thing that they would disagree on would be Bolton’s moustache, otherwise it seems that, on policy, they could finish each other’s sentences. And if Bolton harbors any resentment about being third choice, he hasn’t shown it.
Bolton has a fine resume; an impressive record of government service and private employment. Since he graduated from Yale University with a BA and JD in 1974, he has been on a slow but steady upward trajectory. His early career saw him hold a couple Assistant Secretary of State Jobs and a couple of Assistant Attorney General jobs. For a brief period in 2005-2006 he was ambassador to the United Nations on a temporary basis, but withdrew before being confirmed by congress. Bolton has also worked in the private sector in a law firm, worked as a commentator on Mr. Trump’s favorite conservative network, FOX, and been involved with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank.
Mr. Bolton, like his boss, is a unilateralist. For him, like Trump, “America First” is the rallying cry and fundamental proposition of his politics and worldview. Bolton has been a harsh critic of the JCPOA or “Iran Deal” signed by the US, Russia, China, the UK, Germany, France, and the EU. His language echoes Trump’s when he describes it as a monumental bad deal. Bolton is also a strong critic of North Korea, but has dialed back his rhetoric now that Mr. Trump has been engaging with DPRK Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. Mr. Bolton has also weighed in on Taiwan, suggesting that the US might even station troops there and, in the process, displaying an abysmal lack of understanding of both the PRC’s history and of its resolve regarding Taiwan.
Bolton has threatened sanctions against the International Criminal Court of Justice if any indictments are handed down against US parties, and has threatened Iran as well. On September 26, 2018, TIME magazine quoted Bolton at the United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) summit saying:
“If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our
citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat, and deceive, yes, there will
indeed be hell to pay….. “Let my message today be clear: We are
watching, and we will come after you.”
And to cap off Bolton’s hard line (which is, of course, Trump’s hard line) he has, in effect, reset the tone of America’s Latin America policy by branding Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua a “Troika of Tyranny.” In the speech delivered at Miami Dade Freedom Tower November 1, 2018 he announced sanctions would be used to bring these countries into line with the current administration’s view of proper international behavior.
It is now the end of November 2018, and just over four weeks from now, in January 2019, a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will be sworn in. Things will surely change, and in times to come, people may look back and consider this period the high-water mark of Trumpism and Trumpian politics. Donald Trump and John Bolton’s worldview of politics and human life will soon be consigned to the trash bin of history–where it belongs.
Photo: Greg Skidmore via flickr