March 08, 2018

John Bolton Is A Menace To Society

The hawkish former U.N. ambassador tops the short-list of candidates for National Security Advisor.

by Chris Thomas

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Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse

There are few people who want to do more to undermine U.S. national security than John Bolton. The list is probably Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin, and Bolton. Bolton (probably) means well but that doesn’t make his views any less destructive to American security and the man has made a long and storied career of being wrong about nearly every major national security issue in his political lifetime. Nonetheless, and primarily because no one even remotely qualified or respectable wants to work in the West Wing these days, he’s on the shortlist to replace H.R. McMaster as National Security Advisor.

The United Nations

He’s against it. Specifically, Bolton thinks it to be an unnecessary and feckless institution which the United States should replace with one more in line with its foreign policy goals. Bolton once quipped that “if [the UN building] lost ten stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference”* and opined that “there is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that’s the United States, when it suits our interests and when we can get others to go along.”

The U.N. is vital to U.S. national security

The United States is one of five permanent members of the United Nations’ Security Council. In that capacity it has veto power over nearly anything the UN might do which can impact US national security. That is an extremely sweet deal and one the United States would be unlikely to get again, if, in some bizarre turn of events, Bolton got his wish.

North Korea

In a recent OpEd, Bolton argued that the United States should preemptively strike against North Korea before it has the capability to deliver a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile to the United States. There are too many things wrong with this position to fully discuss them but the most alarming is the casual indifference with which he seems willing to condemn the 9.86 million residents of Seoul and the 23,000 American troops stationed in Korea to a horrific bombardment.

North Korea is already beyond America’s reach

The truth is, just because North Korea can’t park a warhead on Washington D.C. yet, that doesn’t mean that the U.S. military can kick over Kim Jong Un’s regime without consequences. North Korean missiles can reach numerous U.S. bases in the Pacific and the North Korean military is known to possess nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. A war with North Korea will be a human catastrophe of the first order and likely signal to the rest of the world the final failure of American soft power.

Iran

In a speech at the University of Chicago back in 2009, Bolton advocated for the use of nuclear weapons to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Specifically, he predicted that “Unless Israel is prepared to use nuclear weapons against Iran’s program, Iran will have nuclear weapons in the very near future.”

The worst possible solution

Mercifully, the facilities in Iran that Bolton suggested that Israel should target with the fruits its own illegal, covert, nuclear weapons program are far from population centers but, as they’re also deep underground—the resulting fallout would have been particularly nasty. The geo-political fallout would have been horrific as well, no doubt plunging the Middle East into a protracted, destructive war.

Of course, hindsight being 20/20, we can know now exactly how catastrophically wrong Bolton was. Israel did not use nuclear weapons to attack Iran. Instead, a combination of diplomatic pressure and sophisticated cyber-attacks brought the Iranian nuclear program to its knees, and the Iranians to the negotiating table.

Cuba

The last time most Americans thought of Cuba as a credible threat or a haven for weapons of mass destruction was 1962. The Beatles were still opening for Little Richard and Donald Trump was trying out for the New York Military Academy football team despite his crippling heel spurs. John Bolton, however, remained concerned about the island nation as late as 2002, calling for the United States to go to war with Cuba over a supposed biological weapons research program.

Wrong again

If you’re starting to see a pattern here, that’s because there is one. Cuba, of course, did not have a biological weapons program. The United States did not need to invade and squander its blood and treasure chasing after an imagined threat and since then, relations with Cuba have nearly normalized. One need not imagine what such a war would have looked like, because Bolton would back just such a war two years later.

Iraq

Given Bolton’s track record on sending U.S. troops to die on the mere suspicion that someone somewhere might appear to be considering the possibility of a weapons program, it should come as no surprise that he vocally supported the 2004 invasion of Iraq. He was every bit as confidant that Iraq harbored a secret WMD program as he was of Cuba’s, which is fitting, because he was equally correct too.

“We are confident that Saddam Hussein has hidden weapons of mass destruction and production facilities in Iraq… The evidence is there — the question is whether the inspectors are allowed to find it.” —John Bolton

We know how that turned out

Of course Iraq did not have a WMD program in 2004. American troops invaded and found not a scrap of evidence that the Iraqi government had made any attempt to build or hide weapons of mass destruction. Nonetheless, the United States spent trillions of dollars on the war, destabilized the region, and cut deeply into the international goodwill that followed the tragedy of September 11th.

Tell Congress What You Think

Unfortunately, the National Security Advisor is not a position that requires Senate approval, so Bolton won’t have to go through a confirmation hearing. Even so, you can encourage your Representatives and Senators to make a stink about his appointment, especially given his track record. Text RESIST to 50409. Or, if SMS isn’t your style, you can contact your government by talking to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or Twitter.

* In Bolton’s defense, he said this in 1994, seven years before Americans learned first-hand exactly how traumatic the loss of the upper stories of Manhattan skyscrapers can be.

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