APB: Farewell, John Bolton

The firing (or, he insists, the resignation) of John Bolton as national security special assistant is being treated by some observers as a great loss for coherence and professionalism in the conduct of US foreign policy.  Josh Rogin at the Washington Post, for example, writes on September 11: “Republicans on Capitol Hill lost a key interlocutor and a key ally inside the White House. Many fear Trump will replace Bolton with someone who will feed Trump’s own desire to drastically pull back on U.S. commitments and alliances abroad. Even Democrats acknowledge Bolton was somebody who they knew and trusted to — at the very least — push back against Trump’s worst instincts or false beliefs.”

In short, we are invited to treat Bolton’s departure as another in a long line of “adults in the room” who are gone, leaving Trump to make policy by gut instinct.  (“Trump unplugged,” as one former diplomatic put it.)  You would think we had lost a voice for peace, human rights, and international cooperation!  Let’s get real: Bolton’s departure is a welcome event.  His hawkish impulses, if allowed to proceed uncheck, quite possibly would have led to war with Iran, no talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, continued “maximum pressure” on North Korea and Venezuela, and further sanctions against Cuba and Nicaragua.  Yes, Bolton was an “adult” when it came to sanctions on Russia, support for NATO, and Trump’s glad-handing of dictators.  But on balance, Bolton was as much a menace to real national and international security as his boss.

Various foreign-policy professionals are being quoted as concluding that with Bolton gone, Trump will have the field to himself, with only Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and friends to restrain him.  That is indeed worrisome, since Pompeo has been just as militant as Bolton on Venezuela, North Korea, and Iran.  The main difference between the two is Pompeo’s loyalty—his willingness to bite his tongue and go along with whatever Trump says or does.  US foreign policy will be no less incoherent and erratic in a Bolton-less world.  But at least with Bolton gone, we have one less voice for war in Washington.

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  1. Absolutely spot on again Mel. The person and persons occupying the white house is unsettling and dangerous. We must vote this administration out in 2020 or we are doomed as a nation and planet. That is if he isn’t removed before the elections and the democratic party wises up to the fact that if they choose Joe Biden we will most likely lose to the crazy people presently occupying the space while destroying the planet along their way. I see the trump administration as a category 5 hurricane destroying everything in their path who gets in their face. Will he make fun of Greta because she’s on the spectrum and believes in science? My guess is that he will. She will be demonstrating in front of the white house on Friday speaking out against business as usual causing our climate chaos. Thank you Mel for your honest journalism.

  2. Dear Mel:

    To quote Stephen Colbert, from last night (Tuesday): “I have never been more grateful than the President’s pettiness and stupidity; because today he was stupid enough and petty enough to save us from a very smart warmonger. I’m talking about National Security advisor (and last walrus [in reference to Bolton’s mustache] on the beach without a mate) John Bolton. …”

    Here, here! I say, for once, God bless Donald Trump!


  3. Hi Mel,

    By coincidence, after watching local news, CBS national news was on and I listened as they noted that Iran was using centrifuges in violation of the agreement and I thought what a distortion….Trump pulled out of the agreement! There is no agreement!


  4. John Bolton’s photo at the top of the page says, “Mr. President, shit or get off the pot”. Was he fired or did he resign? Makes no difference.

  5. Spot on, Mel. I have bad memories about J.Bolton from his earlier days at State. Leaving aside his horrendous policy instincts–which cannot be left aside, of course–he was also a miserable human being, cursing and bullying whenever someone disagreed. His associations stamped him as a far-right winger and his personality as a fascist.

    1. I think you’ve heard, in various ways: “It takes young men (and women) to fight wars; and old men (AND women: remember Indira Gahndi [Sp?] and Golda Meir!) to start them.”

      I think it was his assignment as U.N. ambassador (am I right in this matter?), that he sank to his lowest depths.

      I think you’ve summed it up perfectly: “he was also a miserable human being…”

  6. Yes, the crocodile tears for someone as war-like as Bolton, with the sin of Iraq writ large on his history, is just one more sign of chicanery and dishonesty. You’ve put it all together for us one more time. Yes, it’s fearsome to think of Trump advising himself, but Bolton was even more dangerous than the “maestro.”

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