The Man In The Room Where It Happened

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.

John Bolton

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!

Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

6 replies on “The Man In The Room Where It Happened”

  1. I don’t have respect for Bolton, Trump, and Kissinger, so I’ll pass on the book.The UN could have been what was proposed after WWII. I have no doubt that America played a big role in sabotaging its effectiveness. After Trumps election, the entire world is coming to understand that a large percentage of Americans are not particularly bright. That makes them easily manipulated! I don’t wish to have enemies. Korea should be reunified with a Peace Treaty. America is the bad dude in its goading of Iran, it’s interference, it’s sanctions. America’s Imperialism must stop! We are disintegrating!

  2. When I was at the DMZ in 1966 and 1967 I was in nuclear howitzer unit with established targets in the north. Nothing new.

  3. Wow, and I thought I am a fast reader! I received my copy of John Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened,” on Thursday, two days ago, and have read three chapters. Admittedly, I am in slogging mode right now, as I am now also reading a 19th Century novel by the notoriously dense Anthony Trollope. I have gained some knowledge from Bolton’s book about the process of how government actually works, as Bolton is very much into process. He claims philosophy is his lodestar but I’m wondering if it’s really just as much process that he savors. I know little of what it’s actually like in the Trump White House. I do know the surest way to get me to quit a job was to yell at me.

    My years on college faculties led me to believe that, whenever a slick, in-fighting careerist invoked process, it was really a ploy to win. Your pet program got voted down? Then there was not a quorum present at the meeting as required in the rules, Section 8 blah blah blah. I’m sure I’ll speed up the process of reading Bolton soon, sort of like “looking for the good parts” in Erskine Caldwell’s “God’s Little Acre” when I was in high school. Now there’s a reference that will date me.

    I am also concerned about Trump’s health. It’s not funny as the late-night TV hosts would have it. I would never mock a shuffling, frail old guy as Trump appeared to be on the long walk down a short ramp. The recent Rampgate event at West Point, NY was a study in health-revealing body language. He had a shuffling gait, did not swing his arms, and had a tremor in his hands while holding the cup of water. His face is also relatively expressionless. He never laughs. Ironically, in view of his rejection of anti coronavirus face masks, he seems to have a mask-like facial demeanor, fixed in a perpetual scowl that he claims to have borrowed from Winston Churchill. I am not a medical diagnostician of any kind, but I did attend a Parkinson’s Disease support group for three years with my late wife.

  4. Bolton is a little crazy. OK, maybe a lot crazy. In many areas, he makes Henry Kissinger look like a pacifist. But, from his days as UN Ambassador to his writings to his White House tour, Bolton has spoken directly and frankly. He didn’t mince words and you could see an odd honesty when he spoke. And that’s the reason his book is valuable. He has given us a clear, solid picture of what Mr. Trump is..and mostly is not. His picture is one NO other administration member will have the guts to give us. And that is important for our future as a nation.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: