When John Bolton was picked to replace outgoing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, many on both the right and left greeted the news with outrage. John Bolton, a warhawk and lying maniac who is partially responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, is desperate for any kind of war. War is his answer to most foreign policy questions. Essentially, he’s an unhinged Dick Cheney.
In 2005, Bolton was picked by then-President Bush as the United States ambassador to the United Nations. Republicans blocked the appointment. Today, Trump’s Republican Party is welcoming John Bolton with open arms to the position of National Security Adviser—a much more sensitive and dangerous appointment. Remember when Trump criticized Bush’s “pointless” wars? He’s gearing up to do the exact same thing.
In fact, Defense Secretary James Mattis just showed us exactly how worried we should be. Instead of greeting Bolton’s hawkishness and lies with the trepidation that would be expected of any American with a single iota of common sense and integrity, he laughed off criticism. When meeting Bolton, he cracked a joke overheard by the mics of nearby reporters:
‘Thank you for coming, and uh, it’s good to finally meet you. I heard that you’re actually the devil incarnate and I wanted to meet you.’
Here’s the video:
Bolton, who was undersecretary of state in charge of arms control during the Bush administration, isn’t the devil incarnate. His true nature is much more banal than that, but then again, evil usually is.
When Bolton was rejected by Republicans previously, it wasn’t for nothing. In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Antony Blinken highlights some of the reasoning:
‘One moment singularly derailed his nomination. Testifying before the usually staid Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 2005, Carl W. Ford Jr. — the former assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research — called Mr. Bolton a “kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy” and a “serial abuser” of people beneath him in the chain of command. Mr. Ford — a self-described conservative Republican and Bush supporter — made vivid an emerging portrait of Mr. Bolton as a bully who repeatedly sought retribution against career intelligence analysts with the temerity to contradict him.
‘Mr. Bolton, President Bush’s under secretary of state for arms control and international security, had a general disdain for diplomacy that rankled several Republican members of the committee, including George Voinovich of Ohio and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. Mr. Lugar had quietly counseled the administration not to nominate him.
‘That disdain, in and of itself, did not sink his nomination. Rather, it was the testimony we heard and evidence we uncovered that Mr. Bolton had a habit of twisting intelligence to back his bellicosity and sought to remove anyone who objected.
‘As under secretary of state, Mr. Bolton insisted that Cuba was attempting to build a biological weapons program. The national intelligence officer for Latin America and the State Department’s top biological weapons expert disagreed. In a fit of rage, Mr. Bolton tried to have both reassigned.’
The account goes on to detail several other instances of Bolton’s loose relationship with the truth and his habit of mischaracterizing intelligence in order to get the drums of war beating. For example, Syria:
‘Mr. Bolton also was accused of attempting to inflate the dangers of Syria’s biological and nuclear weapons programs, by trying to sneak exaggerated assertions into speeches and congressional testimony before being called on it by intelligence officials. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage reportedly issued an extraordinary decree that required Mr. Bolton to clear all of his public utterances with Mr. Armitage himself.’
In other words, he was considered so untrustworthy that he was no longer allowed to speak about intelligence publicly without direct approval. You can see some of the video from his hearing below:
Perhaps most worryingly, Bolton was a key architect of the Iraq war. The Bush administration did everything it could to cover up or mischaracterize intelligence that showed Iraq wasn’t building WMDs. Bolton himself orchestrated the removal of dissenting officials that could have uncovered the truth, helping to prevent a two trillion dollar war that cost thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. The costs of Mr. Bolton’s actions continue to this day.
The human cost is even higher:
More recently, Bolton has been a rabid Trump fan on Fox News, attacking those who criticize the president, and advocating for war with North Korea and Iran. His ability to kiss up to those in power, noted repeatedly by those who have worked with him, is likely the only part of his qualifications that Trump truly cares about, yet that’s not going to stop his hawkish influence from being dangerous and damaging to this nation.
Featured image via screencapture