I’ve finished the John Bolton book The Room Where It Happened.
Final impression: One reason to vote for Joe Biden is that he would not let Bolton anywhere near White House policy discussions.
It was Bolton who coached Donald Trump on how he could nuke the North Korea border with the South and wipe out all those artillery guns presumably aimed at Seoul. And he told Trump he rated war with North Korea at fifty-fifty.
He’d gladly get it on with Iran, too. Bolton’s problem as a conservative, America-first policy wonk in an awakened century is that he believes the rest of the planet has to march to America’s band music. The UN is worthless globalism governance. Nuclear control treaties are a waste because everyone but us will cheat. Slapping financial penalties on those who march to some other music is the way to bring compliance.
And if only the White House occupants would adopt his national security advice we’d Make American Great Again. Just don’t offer him any second tier advisor jobs because he’s a top tier man and can’t be bothered with somebody else’s policy — he makes policy that the president can embrace.
Despite those horrid, egotistical self-revelations by the former National Security Adviser, he’s done a marvelous job of describing a White House that’s out of control and gives Americans on the fence another reason not to allow Trump a second term.
Bolton does not like trying to reason with our adversaries. He thinks it’s a waste of time to suggest avenues of cooperation and incentives. You could not send him to talk with the Iranian ayatollah or the North Korea dear leader and ask what we could do to dial down our confrontations. Maybe quit referring to Iran as a “radical Islamic terrorism state” and North Korea as a “rogue state”? Not Bolton.
Some other places are not as immune to insensitive presidential remarks as we are. Trump called the Late Sen. John McCain “no war hero” because he was captured and in one tweet said “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?”
We took that in stride. Rude and crude? Yes but no protest marches. Just chuckles and “oh, well, that’s just Trump being Trump.” But in the culture of countries such as Iran and North Korea, Trumpian insults practically amount to declarations of war. Most diplomats know that and avoid that. Trump is not a diplomat. So he’d go down that road every time Bolton egged him on. He often said “we think a lot alike.”
I sense that if Trump had kept Bolton on at least through these four years there would have been no tell-all book such as this one. Bolton wanted to be known as similar to Henry Kissinger with Richard Nixon, or maybe Otto von Bismarck, prime minister and counselor to King Wilhelm of Germany, who prodded the king into three wars against Denmark, Austria and France.
So, a good trade-off: we get a tell-all book but no war (yet) with Iran or North Korea.
I’ll take that!