Bolton's move to White House signals a more hawkish turn

John Bolton promised President Donald Trump that "he wouldn't start any wars" if he were hired to be the third nation...

Posted: Mar 23, 2018 12:18 PM
Updated: Mar 23, 2018 12:19 PM

John Bolton promised President Donald Trump that "he wouldn't start any wars" if he were hired to be the third national security adviser at the White House in just 14 months -- a claim that generated skepticism across Washington.

Bolton, a hawkish neoconservative, has advocated war with Iran and a pre-emptive strike on North Korea, and remains an unapologetic supporter of the Iraq War despite the flawed intelligence used to justify the US invasion.

So the claim that Bolton would avoid conflict, described to CNN by a source familiar with negotiations between the President and the former ambassador to the UN, raised eyebrows when news broke Thursday that Trump was ousting H.R. McMaster and replacing him with the 69-year-old Baltimore native.

For many, the concern is that the appointment of Bolton -- exactly the kind of advocate for US overseas intervention that Trump pilloried on the campaign trail -- marks a belligerent turn for the Trump administration that could doom attempts to save the Iran nuclear deal, increase the possibility of a clash with North Korea and ratchet up tensions with Moscow.

Bolton drew praise from some Republican senators, including South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, who said the Yale law school graduate will do "an outstanding job," but a veterans group called the appointment "frightening" and advocacy groups warned that Trump was assembling a "war cabinet."

The anxiety is as much about Bolton's track record -- a disdain for diplomacy, a thirst for military adventures and accusations that he manipulated intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq War -- as it is about the role that he will now play in shaping US foreign policy.

The national security adviser's job is to act as a synthesizer of security issues across the administration, coordinating and summarizing for the commander in chief the various policy suggestions that come from the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies.

A national security adviser offers his or her own analysis, and then conveys the president's policy decisions back down the chain and makes sure they're carried out.

But many express doubt that Bolton is wired to put aside his own views and offer the kind of impartial summary of diverse policy views that would help a president weigh all options, instead of emphasizing the more hawkish positions he prefers.

"I think my long-standing hope for a fix to the Iran deal just died," Mark Dubowitz, the CEO of Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a longtime critic of the international pact, tweeted Thursday. "Time of death: Afternoon of March 22, 2018. Now what?"

Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, said, "Ambassador Bolton's stated positions on today's major issues, most notably North Korea's and Iran's nuclear programs, are overly aggressive at best and downright dangerous at worst."

"Let there be no mistake -- there is no war for regime change, anywhere, that John Bolton wasn't for," said Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran who serves as chair of VoteVets. "We are undoubtedly closer to a war in Korea now, and a war with Iran, with John Bolton as national security adviser and with Mike Pompeo as the nominee for secretary of state."

Some foreign policy analysts reported that the concern extends to US allies.

"I've spent the past week in Seoul and Tokyo," Abraham Denmark, director of the Asia Program at the Kissinger Institute, said in a tweet. "One question they raised repeatedly was if Bolton will be appointed" as national security adviser. This question, Denmark said, was "always asked with a mix of incredulity and dread. Asian allies will worry this indicates diplomacy is a farce and that military action is more likely."

A rumpled dresser with a walrus mustache and a cantankerous manner, Bolton was in the running to be Trump's secretary of state and since then has made visits to the West Wing every few months to discuss foreign policy and national security.

He'll start his new job on April 9 with deep experience, having served in the Republican administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

Along the way, though, he drew accusations that he had manipulated intelligence on weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq War, kept information from Secretary of State Colin Powell and was abusive to subordinates with differing views at the State Department, where he served as the undersecretary for arms control.

Among neoconservatives, Bolton is admired for his dismissal of the UN and his promotion of the US as the world's sole significant power.

To that end, many see a welcome rigor ahead in the way the Trump administration will approach potential talks with North Korea and ongoing skirmishes with Russia, which intelligence officials say continues to try to interfere in US elections.

Harry J. Kazianis, director of Defense Studies at The Center for the National Interest, said Bolton's hire "is bad news for those who were hoping the Iran deal would somehow survive. That deal is RIP as of right now."

Kazianis also sees an unyielding approach to North Korea and the planned summit meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un in May. "Bolton will not tolerate any sort of games from Pyongyang," Kazianis said, referring to Pyongyang's pattern of demanding economic concessions in exchange for talks. "If the North Koreans ask for bribes or incentives to talk, look for the administration to snap to an even harder line -- think maximum pressure on steroids," he said.

And on Russia, despite Trump's repeated conciliatory tone toward President Vladmir Putin, Kazianis predicts that, "the appointment of John Bolton might be Moscow's worst nightmare."

Bolton himself spent Thursday insisting through intermediaries and in an interview with Fox News, where he has worked as a commentator, that while he has strong views, he would channel only the President's wishes and "absolutely go along with Trump."

In the interview with Fox, Bolton said his past comments are now "behind me" and what matters is "what the President says."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 728811

Reported Deaths: 13405
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion996911740
Lake53548966
Allen40529675
St. Joseph35596550
Hamilton35536408
Elkhart28470441
Tippecanoe22375218
Vanderburgh22293396
Porter18701307
Johnson17923378
Hendricks17199315
Clark12943191
Madison12612339
Vigo12437246
Monroe11873170
LaPorte11856210
Delaware10667186
Howard9895216
Kosciusko9390117
Hancock8260140
Bartholomew8058155
Warrick7777155
Floyd7653178
Wayne7035199
Grant7032174
Boone6687101
Morgan6557139
Dubois6150117
Marshall6016111
Dearborn580077
Cass5794105
Henry5699103
Noble559883
Jackson501172
Shelby490696
Lawrence4522120
Harrison435072
Gibson434792
DeKalb427185
Clinton427053
Montgomery423688
Whitley395239
Huntington390080
Steuben385557
Miami381166
Knox371890
Jasper364747
Putnam359660
Wabash353479
Adams341054
Ripley339170
Jefferson329281
White313554
Daviess296299
Wells291381
Decatur284792
Fayette279562
Greene277885
Posey271333
Scott265653
LaGrange265570
Clay259447
Washington240332
Randolph239781
Spencer232131
Jennings229849
Starke215953
Fountain212046
Sullivan211442
Owen198756
Fulton194840
Jay193630
Carroll188520
Orange182654
Perry182637
Rush173025
Vermillion168843
Franklin167835
Tipton162845
Parke146116
Blackford134632
Pike133734
Pulaski116645
Newton107734
Brown101941
Crawford99514
Benton98514
Martin88615
Warren81815
Switzerland7858
Union71010
Ohio56511
Unassigned0414

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1082815

Reported Deaths: 19428
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1258081400
Cuyahoga1119722115
Hamilton799721205
Montgomery514061014
Summit47145945
Lucas42119788
Butler38338584
Stark32273906
Lorain24997481
Warren24274298
Mahoning21546588
Lake20653369
Clermont19761238
Delaware18512133
Licking16418212
Fairfield16176199
Trumbull16032468
Medina15268264
Greene15063244
Clark13983299
Wood13080189
Portage12839203
Allen11639232
Richland11349199
Miami10670217
Muskingum8803133
Wayne8793211
Columbiana8778229
Pickaway8564121
Marion8523135
Tuscarawas8473244
Erie7888154
Hancock6914127
Ross6846155
Ashtabula6805170
Geauga6686148
Scioto6406101
Belmont5881167
Union570848
Lawrence5549102
Jefferson5525151
Huron5430119
Darke5355123
Sandusky5347120
Seneca5282121
Athens519158
Washington5155109
Auglaize490784
Mercer480385
Shelby469293
Knox4486110
Madison435661
Putnam4278100
Fulton422469
Ashland421789
Defiance419697
Crawford3975107
Brown394157
Logan381676
Preble379598
Clinton372163
Ottawa366679
Highland355062
Williams339275
Champaign331658
Guernsey315653
Jackson312551
Perry294950
Morrow284939
Fayette281950
Hardin270864
Henry268666
Coshocton265257
Holmes2603101
Van Wert243463
Adams237852
Pike237634
Gallia235349
Wyandot231055
Hocking215362
Carroll191547
Paulding172640
Meigs144840
Noble133337
Monroe132042
Morgan108423
Harrison108137
Vinton83115
Unassigned02
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
38° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 28°
Angola
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 26°
Huntington
Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 33°
Decatur
Cloudy
38° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 28°
Van Wert
Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 34°
Rain moves in overnight into Sunday morning and looks to hang around much of the day, likely forcing Mother's Day plans indoors
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events