10 Thoughts on John Bolton’s Appointment as National Security Advisor

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Jimmy Carter has been a surprise defender of President Donald Trump, saying the media has been hard on him, and that Trump hasn’t hurt America’s world standing. So when the former president told the USA Today that Trump’s appointment of John Bolton as national security advisor “is a disaster for our country,” that criticism carries some serious weight. Bolton’s appointment to the high-profile post has been harshly criticized by progressives, and even some on the other side of the political fence have reservations. Bolton, a career diplomat who has most recently served as a Fox News political analyst, assumes his duties April 9. Here’s a look at some of the widely divergent thought on Bolton’s appointment.

John Bolton’s appointment as national security advisor has led many to worry he will push for war with North Korea. © Gage Skidmore


10. “I think John Bolton is a disaster for our country. Maybe one of the worst mistakes that President Trump has made since he’s been in office is the appointment of John Bolton.”

— Former President Jimmy Carter, in an interview with USA Today. The 93-year-old Carter described Bolton as a “war-like figure,” noting Bolton had “been advocating a war with North Korea for a long time and even promoting an attack on Iran, and who was one of the leading figures in orchestrating the decision to invade Iraq.”


9. “He’s a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He’s on the board of trustees of the National Review Institute. He’s a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He’s a conservative hawk, yes, but he’s squarely in the mainstream of conservative foreign-policy thought.”

— David French, in National Review


8. “It is a solid and experienced choice. … Mr. Bolton’s first job will be to prepare the President for an historic meeting with Kim Jong Un. We may assume Pyongyang knows now that bluffing the U.S. won’t work.”

Wall Street Journal editorial


7. “The appointment of John Bolton as President Trump’s national security advisor is a symptom of the most profound and dangerous shift in American foreign policy since the end of World War II. … We are witnessing the most extreme form of American nationalism in modern times, and it is primarily in service to craven politics. Trump appears to know little and to care less about a coherent, forward-looking international design of any kind, let alone one that truly protects U.S. interests.”

— A Los Angeles Times commentary by David Rothkopf, a senior fellow at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.


6. “[T]he Bolton designation will greatly reduce the grave risks now faced by America during today’s increasingly troubled times. Bolton scare-mongering is based on the mistaken Beltway wisdom practiced during the previous administration — that doing nothing in the face of danger reduces American risks. … The attacks on Bolton come from the same people who told us that President Reagan, whose policies brought down the former Soviet Union without firing a shot, would lead us to world war.”

— Former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), in a USA Today commentary


5. “I believe that this president basically wants to go to war with North Korea and the appointment of Ambassador Bolton, to me, is an affirmation of that.”

— Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas). a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committee, Castro told MSNBC’s Morning Joe he thinks Trump is “clearing out anybody who isn’t subservient and obsequious to him” so he can start a conflict with North Korea.


4. “The national security adviser is the person who makes sure the president hears the views of all the national security agencies, including the State Department and the Defense Department, and who drives policy toward a decision. It is hard to see Mr. Bolton acting as an honest broker. He is known to play a ruthless inside game as he maneuvers to win bureaucratic battles and freezes out people he thinks have crossed him. … Bringing on the fiery Mr. Bolton now, at a delicate moment with North Korea, is a terrible decision.”

— A New York Times editorial


3. “There is healthy evidence of the wisdom of this choice in the panic of liberals who convulsed the moment it was announced. But there is also a part of the Trump base that might be uneasy, the voters who viewed him as unlikely to entangle America in further extended deployments in various hot spots. Make no mistake, Bolton believes in the American military as a force for good around the world. … Ronald Reagan famously said that no war in his lifetime ever started because America was too strong. If that is instructive, war is in fact less likely with a president unafraid to give voice to such strength, and a National Security Advisor willing to inform it.”

— Conservative commentator Mark Davis


2. “In truth, Bolton is a hawk because the world is full of dangerous actors and some evil ones and he sensibly believes there’s no point of being America if we’re going to roll over and surrender our advantages. Already there are rumblings that Russia, China and North Korea won’t be happy to see Bolton having the president’s ear — which proves Trump chose wisely.”

— Michael Goodwin, in the New York Post


1. “(Bolton) remains an advocate of bombing Iran and North Korea. Anyone who favors a “war of choice” against a nuclear-armed state belongs in a psychiatric ward, not the White House — although, admittedly, the difference between the two may no longer be consequential.”

— Council on Foreign Relations scholar Max Boot, in a Washington Post commentary. Boot notes that he has supported Bolton in the past, including his support of the Iraq War, but said he has changed his mind.


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