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Thursday, April 19, 2018


President Trump appointed former UN Ambassador John Bolton as his National Security Advisor effective April 9, 2018. He replaces Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster. Bolton becomes Trump’s third National Security Advisor, the first being Lieutenant General Michael Flynn.

McMaster resigned at the discretion of President Trump and the parting was considered amicable. Bolton, an attorney and Yale graduate, previously served twice as an Assistant Secretary of State in the State Department and twice as an Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department under President Reagan and in both Bush administrations. Bolton serves at the pleasure of the president. Unlike cabinet positions, Bolton will not need Senate confirmation. What goes on in the Oval Office stays in the Oval Office.

If opposition to Bolton’s appointment is any indication of his potential effectiveness, then he deserves high accolades. Liberals, neocons, Republican Never-Trumpers, and several media pundits oppose Bolton for different reasons but are unified in their ignorance of foreign policy. To hear these folks talk, the greatest threat to the United States is not Russia, North Korea, China, Iran, or Islamic Extremism. It is John Bolton.

Why the opposition? Maybe it is because, by all accounts, Bolton is a clear thinker and straight talker. Anyone who has watched him on Fox News and witnessed his comments can testify to his attributes.

Trying to “understand” hostile nations, terrorists, and other bad actors who threaten America is not in Bolton’s lexicon. He subscribes to peace through strength. It has worked before and can work again. He believes America should be prepared to confront directly those threats because that is the language bullies understand.

A few Bolton-isms identified by Cal Thomas give good insight to the man.

--Regarding Iran: “When you have a regime that would be happier in the afterlife than in this life, this is not a regime that is subject to classic theories of deterrence.”

--Regarding negotiation as a strategy: “Negotiation is not a policy. It is a technique. It is something you use when it’s to your advantage, and something that you don’t use when it’s not to your advantage.”

--Regarding the United Nations: “There is no such thing as the United Nations. If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”

--Regarding bureaucracies in general: “You could take several stories off the buildings of most U.S. government agencies and we’d all probably be better for it, too.”

Bolton considers protracted talks with North Korea a waste of time. However, since President Trump has accepted American and North Korean envoys conducting conversations, Bolton has softened his position. Nevertheless, he maintains any discussions must be short and tart. He sums up what President Trump’s message to the North Korean leader should be. “Tell me you have begun total denuclearization because we’re not going to have protracted negotiations. You can tell me right now or we’ll start thinking of something else.”

As head of the NSC Bolton made clear that his years of writing and speaking about many issues have created a record of which he is proud. However, his job now is to subjugate his views to the president’s convictions. Trump’s newest team member emphasized his thoughts and analysis were no longer for the benefit of the general public, but for the benefit of his new boss.

That said, Bolton accentuates loyalty. Something he is serious about, and specifically which he is not hesitant about addressing -- leaks. For this reason he immediately began building his own team. Knowing this, various NSC members began resigning. NSC spokesman Michael Anton announced his plans to leave a day before Bolton assumed his post. A day after Bolton took over, homeland security adviser Tom Bossert resigned. A day after that, NSC deputy Nadia Schadlow stepped down. Soon after, NSC deputy Rick Waddell handed in his own notice. Reports suggest these resignations were Bolton's own doing. More changes are expected in the coming weeks.

The mainstream media is quick to call Bolton “hard line,” “dangerous,” and “hawkish.” Given the dangerous world America confronts, and given that Bolton understands international and security issues, he appears to be the right choice at the right time to advise President Trump.


Dennis M. Patrick can be contacted at (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).



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