I've said time and again that John Bolton joining Trump's foreign policy team basically guaranteed war with Iran, North Korea, or both. That catastrophic scenario has now come to pass, as Bolton will be replacing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in a few weeks.
President Trump named John R. Bolton, a hard-line former American ambassador to the United Nations, as his third national security adviser on Thursday, continuing a shake-up that creates one of the most hawkish national security teams of any White House in recent history.
Mr. Bolton will replace Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the battle-tested Army officer who was tapped last year to stabilize a turbulent foreign policy operation but who never developed a comfortable relationship with the president.
The move, which was sudden but not unexpected, signals a more confrontational approach in American foreign policy at a time when Mr. Trump faces mounting challenges, including from Iran and North Korea.
The president replaced Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson last week with the C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, a former Army officer and Tea Party congressman who has spoken about regime change in Pyongyang and about ripping up the Iran nuclear deal.
Mr. Bolton, an outspoken advocate of military action who served in the George W. Bush administration, has called for action against Iran and North Korea. In an interview on Thursday on Fox News, soon after his appointment was announced in a presidential tweet, he declined to say whether Mr. Trump should go through with a planned meeting with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.
General McMaster will retire from the military, ending a career that included senior commands in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had discussed his departure with Mr. Trump for several weeks, White House officials said, but decided to speed it up because questions about his status were casting a shadow over his exchanges with foreign officials.
Mr. Trump, the White House officials said, also wanted to fill out his national security team before his meeting with Mr. Kim, which is scheduled to occur by the end of May.
With Pompeo at State and now Bolton running the NSC, the odds that Trump is talked into direct military action against Pyongyang or Tehran is ludicrously high. I know I make a lot of predictions, and use quote a bit of superlative hyperbole to get my points across, but guys?
This is deadly, deadly serious, and I am 100% convinced the question now isn't whether we attack Iran and/or North Korea, but when, and in what order. Voting for Democrats this fall and taking back the House and Senate as a check on Trump's military aspirations is now a moral imperative. Fred Kaplan at Slate has the right of it despite his long history of being a smug asshole.
Bolton has repeatedly called for launching a first strike on North Korea, scuttling the nuclear arms deal with Iran, and then bombing that country too. He says and writes these things not as part of some clever “madman theory” to bring Kim Jong-un and the mullahs of Tehran to the bargaining table, but rather because he simply wants to destroy them and America’s other enemies too.
His agenda is not “peace through strength,” the motto of more conventional Republican hawks that Trump included in a tweet on Wednesday, but rather regime change through war. He is a neocon without the moral fervor of some who wear that label—i.e., he is keen to topple oppressive regimes not in order to spread democracy but rather to expand American power.
In the early days of the George W. Bush administration, Vice President Dick Cheney finagled Bolton a job as undersecretary of state for arms control—an inside joke, since Bolton has never read an arms-control treaty that he liked. But his real assignment was to serve as Cheney’s spy in Foggy Bottom, monitoring and, when possible, obstructing any attempts at peaceful diplomacy mounted by Secretary of State Colin Powell.
When Powell got the boot, Cheney wanted to make Bolton deputy secretary of state, replacing Richard Armitage, who resigned along with his best friend Powell. But Powell’s replacement, Condoleezza Rice, who had been Bush’s national security adviser, blocked the move, fully aware of Bolton’s obstructionist ideology.
As a compromise, Bush nominated Bolton to be United Nations ambassador, but that move proved unbearable to even the Republican-controlled Senate at the time. It was one thing to be critical of the U.N.—it’s a body deserving of criticism—but Bolton opposed its very existence. “There is no such thing as the United Nations,” he once said in a speech, adding, “If the U.N. Secretariat building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a lot of difference.”
More than that, he was hostile to the idea of international law, having once declared, “It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so—because over the long term, the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrain the United States.”
We're going to another disastrous war. Maybe two. Hell, maybe more. With Mueller closing in, there may not be a way to stop it. Most of the groundwork for an attack has already been set. When Trump's May meeting with Kim Jong-Un fails spectacularly or fails to even happen in the first place, the bombs will start falling later this year.
I almost guarantee it at this point.