Washington, Politics – Former UN Ambassador John Bolton was appointed as the new national security advisor by President Donald Trump on Thursday, replacing H.R. McMaster, who has served Trump in the position since February 2017.
Mr. Bolton is also said to have been considered for Secretary of State in the end of 2016, but was eliminated from the running because Trump didn’t like his mustache. ‘Donald was not going to like that mustache. I can’t think of anyone that’s really close to Donald that has a beard that he likes,’ a Trump associate told the Washington Post.
That objection seems now to have been resolved, perhaps due to John Bolton having a similar nationalist attitude to Trump, having a strong focus on putting America first both economically and politically, for instance regarding the threat of trade war and shutting off the nuclear deal with Iran. In 2000, he published an essay called ‘Should We Take Global Governance Seriously,’ where he categorized the American people into two groups: Americanists and Globalists. He claims that the latter is getting increasing control in American politics, and goes on to criticize nearly every single multinational convention.
The decision to appoint him has turned out to be quite controversial. According to Politico, Bolton is a ‘unilateralist ideologue who has spent his career spitting in the face of global cooperation.’ He has also been called ‘one of the most radically hawkish voices in American foreign policy,’ having proposed a first-strike military procedure on both North-Korea and Iran, and has also been accused of manipulating U.S. intelligence to favor his own ideological policies. One of the accussations come from congressional sources claiming that Bolton had ‘sought to punish two State Department officials for disagreeing with him on nonproliferation issues.’ Even during his time as an ambassador for the UN, he publically despised international law, telling the World Federalist Organization that ‘There’s no such thing as the UN. If the U.N. Secretariat building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit difference,’ and later declared that
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.
He has been severely criticized for what he has done in the past, and many are concerned he will continue this behavior as a National Security Advisor. One notable critique is by Senator Bernie Sanders, who spoke strongly against his interventionist ideology:
Another critic is Professor Richard Gowan of Columbia University, who has studies Bolton’s career. He claims that Bolton ‘hates the State Department,’ ‘portrays US diplomats as closet Democrat appeasers,’ and ‘raised hell at the UN.’
Vox has called Bolton ‘the Fox News-ification of foreign policy,’ as he became an influential figure and writer on the newssite following his resignation as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in December 2016. He became so popular there, they exclaim, that he considered running for president in 2012 and 2016.
How will John Bolton do as a national security advisor forward? His history provides some clues, and suggests that the war-mongering, interventionist and protectionistic ideology of Bolton will be anything but a positive influence on U.S. foreign policy and the president. Both libertarians and left-wingers seem to think so. Christopher Preble, the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute said that ‘I operate on the assumption that John Bolton should be kept as far away from the levers of foreign policy as possible. I think I would rest easy if he was dog catcher in Stone Mountain, Georgia. But maybe not.’ Mieke Eoyong, the vice president for foreign policy at the center-left think tank Third Way, agrees, exclaiming that ‘Bolton is so much of an ideologue, that I don’t think he would accurately portray consequences [of policy options] to the president.’ She added that ‘The United States has not hit rock bottom in our international relations,’ but with Bolton as National Security Advisor, ‘we could go lower.’