Let’s not mince words: John Bolton is a war-monger and his appointment to be Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor is a threat to global security. Bolton advocates a foreign policy that exaggerates threats, belittles diplomacy, shows contempt for international institutions and is quick to use violence. The National Security Advisor position does not need Senate confirmation, so starting April 9 the hawk of all hawks will be perched at the White House.
Need specifics on why we should oppose Bolton? Here are some. Add your own.
1) Bolton wants to shred the Iran nuclear deal … and bomb Iran. Bolton hates the nuclear deal that was signed under Obama’s watch not only by the U.S. and Iran, but also by Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, and the EU. Although the deal is working and even Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said it is in our national interest, Bolton calls the Iran deal a massive strategic blunder. On May 12, when Trump is required to re-certify that Iran has been complying with the deal, Bolton makes it more likely that the United States will pull out of the deal, triggering a major international crisis. Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, says, “People, let this be very clear: The appointment of Bolton is essentially a declaration of war with Iran.”
2) Bolton is in bed with an Iranian terrorist organization called MEK, a fringe group that was listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States until 2012 and is still considered a terrorist organization inside Iran. Bolton routinely meets with and accepts payments from the group, which has been responsible for the murder of American soldiers, the attempted kidnapping of a U.S. Ambassador and many violent attacks inside Iran. Bolton considers the MEK a ‘“viable opposition” that he wants to use to overthrow the Iranian government. With Bolton in power, one of the most detested Iranian cults will be treated by the U.S. government as legitimate representatives of the Iranian people.
Bolton is one of the few original advocates for the Iraq War who still insist it was a good idea.
3) Bolton will jeopardize talks with North Korea. The world breathed a sigh of relief at the announcement that Presidents Trump and Kim Jung-un would meet in May. But with Bolton, that meeting may never take place or could be disastrous. Bolton says, “Talking to North Korea is worse than a mere waste of time. Negotiations legitimize the dictatorship, affording it more time to enhance its nuclear and ballistic-missile capabilities.” Instead of talks, Bolton has called for the United States to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea, a strike that could spark a nuclear war.
4) Bolton hates the United Nations and international law. When George Bush nominated Bolton to be UN ambassador in 2005, he proved so controversial to even the Republican-controlled Senate that Bush had to sneak him in as a “recess appointment” when Congress was not in session. It is one thing to be critical of the UN but Bolton opposes its very existence. “There is no such thing as the United Nations,” he once said, adding, “If the UN Secretariat building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a lot of difference.” More than that, he is hostile to the concept 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.”
5) Bolton was a key instigator of the Iraq war and has no regrets. He was a major figure (along with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld) in pushing for the invasion of Iraq. During the Bush presidency, when he was Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control, he helped fabricate evidence about weapons of mass destruction that led to the March 2003 invasion. And he is one of the few original advocates for that war who still insist it was a good idea.
6) Bolton provided false information about Cuba. As Undersecretary of State, Bolton claimed that Havana was attempting to develop biological weapons and sell them to rogue regimes. Then he tried to fire two intelligence analysts who challenged his erroneous allegations. Bolton has also urged that stronger sanctions be imposed on Cuba, and put Cuba on his “axis of evil” list.
7) He is no friend of the Palestinians. When he was at the United Nations, he constantly protected Israel by vetoing all UN resolutions targeting Israel. Bolton praised Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, breaking with decades of international consensus that the disputed city’s status must be negotiated between the two sides. He opposes a Palestinian state, saying, “I don’t think there are institutions on the Palestinian side that can live up to the commitments of a treaty with Israel … or could resist takeover by terrorist elements.” His solution? Get rid of Palestinians by merging Gaza with Egypt and the West Bank with Jordan.
8) Bolton will create new problems with China. He has been an ardent supporter of diplomatic recognition of Taiwan and was paid by the Taiwanese government. He advised the Trump administration to reconsider the “One China” policy, an agreement made in 1972 that requires countries to choose between diplomatic relations with China or diplomatic relations with Taiwan. His antagonistic stance toward China could have a negative impact on issues ranging from North Korea and the South China Sea to cyberspace and trade.
9) He hangs out with Islamophobes. Bolton has a decade-long history of associating with anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller, appearing on her internet radio program “Atlas on the Air” and on her video blog. Geller is well-known for her inflammatory public comments about Muslims and the idea that they are trying to impose Sharia law in the United States. Bolton wrote the foreword to the book she co-wrote with fellow anti-Islamist Robert Spencer called The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America.
10) His white walrus mustache should immediately disqualify him. According to former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, president-elect Trump passed on nominating John Bolton to a senior Cabinet position because he didn’t like Bolton’s signature mustache. With his hairy upper lip, Bolton just didn’t “look the part.” We agree. Trump should immediately rescind the offer in favor of someone with less facial hair.
Medea Benjamin is co-director of the peace group CODEPINK and is the author of Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection and the forthcoming book Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Photo: John Bolton. Credit Gage Skidmore.