Last Updated on December 12, 2016.
A champion for war. Not a champion for us.
In an Administration of increasingly troubling nominees, John Bolton is perhaps uniquely terrifying. An unrepentant champion of the Iraq War, Bolton has called for launching additional wars against a host of countries stretching from Cuba to Iran. But Bolton’s militant desire to bomb every country he can is only the tip of the iceberg. Bolton has supported congressional anti-Muslim witch hunts by extremists in Congress, opposed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and infamously helped manipulate the pre-Iraq War intelligence, helping misled America into that disastrous war.
Bolton’s rabid obsession with wanting to use the military first to solve international challenges, and his unabashed attachment to failed neo-conservative policies disqualifies him from becoming one of America’s chief diplomats. His confirmation to the post of Deputy Secretary of State would round out a Trump national security corps that lacks in diversity, respect for the international community, and commitment to constitutional values.
When George W. Bush nominated John Bolton to be the United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations, he was decisively rejected in a bipartisan manner. The Senate should do so once again and protect America from John Bolton.
The following background information provides additional details on John Bolton and his hawkish record and dangerous ideas.
John Bolton Background Info
Summary: John Bolton is a rabid warmonger. He believes that the U.S. should pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. If given the chance to shape U.S. foreign policy, Bolton would advocate that the United States, Israel, or both bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.
New York Times, Op-Ed: To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran- “The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.” [3/26/15]
Los Angeles Times, Op-Ed: The consequences of a bad deal with Iran- “Obama posits the wrong choice, apparently to distract from the unpleasant reality that the agreement won’t work. It will not prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. So the real choice we are faced with is dealing with the consequences of military action or the consequences of a nuclear Iran. Neither is palatable, but the latter is far worse. If the real objective is stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons, preemptive military action is now inescapable.” [7/26/15]
New York Post Op-Ed: Trump needs to reverse the Iran deal and assert our interests- “In the midst of this wasteland that has developed over the past eight years, Israel and America’s Arab friends are desperately waiting for a strong American president who understands who his friends are. President-elect Trump can change the regional political dynamic quickly, signaling that US elections do truly have consequences. One key step would be to abrogate the Iran nuclear deal in his first days in office. There will be considerable diplomacy required to explain this courageous but necessary decision, but the unambiguous signal it would send worldwide cannot be underestimated.” [11/13/15]
Guardian, Op-Ed: Iran’s assassination plot compels a tough response- “The unpleasant reality is that the only alternative to a nuclear Iran is to break Tehran’s program through the targeted use of military force, either by Israel, the United States or both. This is, to be sure, a risky, unpleasant and unattractive option. It is, nonetheless, far preferable to the only existing – and rapidly approaching – alternative, which is Iran with nuclear weapons.” [8/21/11]
Summary: John Bolton is opposed to a two-state solution.
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict- “We have just seen in the past days the final crash, if you needed any more evidence, that the two-state solution is a nonstarter. The two-state solution isn’t going anywhere,” Bolton said leaders in the United States and Europe had worked for at least 20 years on the “delusion that the only long-term solution in the Israeli-Palestinian context is a Palestinian state.” [4/29/14]
Summary: John Bolton spent decades advocating for the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and continues to believe that the decision to invade Iraq was a good one. He believes the U.S. should have kept forces in Iraq after the 2011 withdrawal against the will of the Iraqi government. His fixed attachment to failed neo-conservative policies would set our country on a dangerous course.
Washington Examiner: John Bolton: No Regrets About Toppling Saddam- “I still think the decision to overthrow Saddam was correct. I think decisions made after that decision were wrong, although I think the worst decision made after that was the 2011 decision to withdraw U.S. and coalition forces. The people who say, oh things would have been much better if you didn’t overthrow Saddam miss the point that today’s Middle East does not flow totally and unchangeably from the decision to overthrow Saddam alone.” [5/14/15]
Almost two decades ago, on January 26, 1998, John Bolton, along with Elliott Abrams, Richard L. Armitage, William J. Bennett, Jeffrey Bergner, Paula Dobriansky, Francis Fukuyama, Robert Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, William Kristol, Richard Perle, Peter W. Rodman, Donald Rumsfeld, William Schneider Jr., Vin Weber, Paul Wolfowitz, R. James Woolsey and Robert B. Zoellick signed their names to a letter they sent off to President Bill Clinton:
Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.
We urge you to articulate this aim, and to turn your Administration’s attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power. This will require a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts. Although we are fully aware of the dangers and difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the dangers of failing to do so are far greater. We believe the U.S. has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf. In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council. [Full Text HERE]
Summary: John Bolton does not support government regulations on energy policy to combat climate change.
The Daily Beast: One GOP Presidential Candidate Believes in Climate Change- The mustachioed Bolton shouldn’t be mistaken for any sort of tree hugging environmentalist. The former State Department official made clear that he disagrees with those politicians who “see climate change behind every corner” and “want to pursue greater governmental control over energy policy and human activity.” Bolton went on to deride those greens “who would have exactly the same policies if there was global cooling instead of global warming” and are “fundamentally statist.” [1/22/15]
Summary: John Bolton would advocate for policies that would harm America’s international standing. He has shown disdain for bedrocks of international law and would limit religious freedom and equal protection under the law. His thinking is directly in conflict with American values of liberty, inclusion, and basic human decency.
Refugees- “We have no obligation to bring them into this country,” Bolton told Fox News’ Justice host Jeanine Pirro. He added that the U.S. can refuse to allow Syrian refugees entry “without in any way violating our humanitarian obligations.” [11/16/15]
Immigration- “Confronted with ideological threats, America is entirely justified in raising appropriate immigration protections, which is neither unprecedented nor contrary to existing law. Even now, a central statutory requirement for U.S. naturalization is that applicants be ‘of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution . . . and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States.’ That sounds very much like Mr. Trump’s speech, and hardly earth-shaking. Whether existing authorities suffice or whether new legislation is needed is unclear, but the broad policy isn’t.” [8/21/16]
Islamophobia- In an interview with Frank Gaffney, John Bolton defended Michele Bachmann’s Anti-Muslim Witch Hunt:
Gaffney: John Bolton, one of the hot house issues in Washington at the moment that speaks to this point you just made about American decline and aiding and abetting our enemies under the Obama administration involves the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s not just that we’ve helped bring them to power in Egypt and are otherwise emboldening them, you mentioned that they are a likely successor to Bashar Assad in Syria. But here at home as well, five congresspeople including Michele Bachmann have been pressing for investigations into the extent to which some of these policies that we’ve been adopting, both abroad and here, might have something to do with influence operations aimed at and actually successfully inside the wire in our government. What do you make of this controversy and particularly the criticisms, the vicious criticisms, that have been mounted against these folks for their warnings from within their own ranks?
Bolton: I’ve been subject to how many security clearance procedures and I must say as irritating as some people may find them I think they are absolutely essential to making sure that people who work in sensitive positions in the national security field in our government are entirely loyal to the United States. I just think that’s an absolute, fundamental prerequisite. Now people find them intrusive, they find them inconvenient, my response is, that’s just too bad. What I think these members of Congress have done is simply raise the question, to a variety of inspectors general in key agencies, are your departments following their own security clearance guidelines, are they adhering to the standards that presumably everybody who seeks a security clearance should have to go through, are they making special exemptions? What is wrong with raising the question? Why is even asking whether we are living up to our standards a legitimate area of congressional oversight, why has that generated this criticism? I’m just mystified by it. [Listen to the clip HERE, 7/24/2012, courtesy of Right Wing Watch]
Summary: John Bolton’s solution to many of the international challenges facing America is antagonism and air strikes.
North Korea- New York Post, Op-Ed: North Korea’s latest nuke test exposes another failed Obama approach “The North’s weapons program perfectly embodies Winston Churchill’s warning about ‘perverted science,’ where humanity’s highest intellectual achievements fall into the wrong hands. The test is yet another fire bell in the night. North Korea’s leaders may have been trying to get President Obama’s attention, but their odds of success are small. For nearly eight years, his resolute indifference to Kim Jung Un’s advances demonstrated that nuclear proliferation is just not one of his priorities. While Obama’s rhetorical response to the North’s evident progress is sometimes vigorous, it never extends to meaningfully tightening sanctions or anything more robust. And Pyongyang doesn’t even slow down.” [9/11/16]
North Korea- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Op-Ed: What to do with North Korea “Given the near certainty that Obama will never stir from his lassitude, even if the North conducts another nuclear test on his watch, what should a new president do? First, he or she must reject the failed diplomatic strategy of the last two decades. Pyongyang is not going to be chit-chatted out of its efforts to gain deliverable nuclear weapons. Negotiations might provide cover for Washington while we pursue other ways to deal with the North but no one should believe it is anything other than a necessary diversion.” [4/9/16]
United Nations- Boston Globe, Op-Ed: The UN doesn’t work. Here’s a fix “Staying in, of course, brings its own share of trouble, thanks to the feckless decisions by one UN governing body after another and the attendant financial consequences for American taxpayers. If UN agencies and councils merely adopted resolutions filled with rhetoric, we would be irritated, but those authorizing treaties, programs, and conferences with budget implications irritate us more tangibly. Given the UN Charter’s “one nation, one vote” principle, we are basically guaranteed to be permanently irritated.” [10/15/15]
Summary: For someone being considered for a top diplomatic post, John Bolton’s comments over the years reveal a frightening disdain for diplomacy. Bolton’s management style has also been scrutinized, having been known to intimidate subordinates.
“There’s 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.” [3/31/05]
“Negotiation is not a policy. It’s a technique. It’s something you use when it’s to your advantage, and something that you don’t use when it’s not to your advantage.” [12/1/16]
A former senior State Department official once described Bolton as “’a quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy’ whose attempt to intimidate a mid-level analyst raises ‘real questions about his suitability for high office.’” [4/12/05]
All Hands on Deck to Defeat John Bolton’s Re-nomination to the United Nations [PRNewswire, 9/6/06]
Five Horrifically Bad Foreign Policy Ideas That Should Disqualify John Bolton From Being Secretary of State [Reason, 9/15/16]
For John Bolton, war is the answer [Washington Post, 4/1/15]
John Bolton’s Reverence for the United Nations [National Interest, 8/3/15]
Rand Paul says John Bolton still thinks Iraq War was right decision [PoliFact, 11/17/16]