John Bolton has been appointed to replace Henry McMaster as this administration’s third national security advisor.
And it is safe to say that many a left-leaning activist and more than a few centrists (even a handful of right-wingers) are pressing the proverbial panic button.First of all, who is this guy? With alarming headlines circulating such as, “It’s time to panic now,” you may be confused if you’ve never heard the name before.
With a career rooted in the Reagan administration and influential positions in both Bush administrations, Bolton’s self-proclaimed “happiest moment” was his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002 during his tenure as ambassador to the United Nations.
That time in the U.N., by the way, was only made possible through a recess appointment, due to his relative unpopularity even then. By naming Bolton as U.N. ambassador during a recess of the Senate, former President George W. Bush effectively bypassed the system of checks and balances and put his personal choice into power.
For obscure reasons, the position of national security advisor does not require Senate confirmation, meaning that Bolton will once again slide into a position of even greater power and influence without even the opportunity for resistance.
Aside from the obvious moral hypocrisy at play, Bolton is dangerous for many other reasons.
In a rare move, former President Jimmy Carter has said that he has “very little confidence” in Bolton, and that the decision to hire him is “one of the worst mistakes that President Trump has made since he’s been in office.”
The reason for the former president’s concern lies mostly in Bolton’s ardent desire to go to war with both North Korea and Iran, and the fact that he was — and still is — one of the loudest proponents of the Iraq war.
“What the North Koreans have wanted for a long time is just some assurance that the United States will not attack North Korea as long as North Korea stays at peace with its neighbors,” – Former President Jimmy Carter
Considering China is our largest creditor and the fact that we’re already toeing the line of a trade war with the country, the idea of entering into combat against both North Korea and China is a chilling thought indeed.
“Audacity, and more audacity, and always audacity, and the nation will be saved.” – Georges Danton
Danton’s words are the opening for Bolton’s 2007 memoir “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations,” and they encapsulate both this administration’s approach to nearly every situation, as well as Bolton’s own, infamously confrontational persona.
And, ultimately, audacity is at the root of the concern surrounding Bolton’s appointment as national security advisor.
As a man who has built his reputation and image on a policy of bureaucratic disruption, he is now faced with the responsibility of overseeing and maintaining exactly the type of processes that he so vehemently disapproves of (quite a bit like Scott Pruitt over at the Environmental Protection Agency).
Having disparaged diplomats for their “accommodation and compromise with foreigners, rather than aggressive advocacy of U.S. interests,” it is clear that Bolton may struggle to fulfill his new role as an ‘honest broker’ of international policy options.
What that will mean for the people of the U.S. is ultimately yet to be seen, but so far the prognosis doesn’t look good.