Sarah Grace Goolden
President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that John Bolton, current political commentator and former U.S. ambassador, will take the position of national security advisor. He will replace Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, and will be Trump’s third pick within 14 months of the presidency.
The role of a national security advisor is to advise and assist the president on national security and foreign policy. Bolton will weigh in on U.S. relations with other countries, especially in places like North Korea, China and Russia. In a statement in USA Today, former senator Tom Coburn says, “The president’s decision to appoint John Bolton as his national security adviser reflects an understanding of the critical lessons of history, and the Bolton designation will greatly reduce the grave risks now faced by America during today’s increasingly troubled times.”
While working under former president George W. Bush, Bolton was viewed as a strong interventionist and has expressed his interest in aggressive foreign policy. He does not shy away from stating his opinion, something that is very attractive to Trump and his administration. In a Fox news interview with Martha MacCallum, Bolton explained how he could bring a lot to this position. This includes his background knowledge that would allow him to present the president with multiple resources to handle every situation that comes his way.
The appointment is not without controversy. The so-called “War Hawk” is rigidly conservative and nationalist, more extreme than most figures in the Republican party. He still firmly stands by the Iraq war, quoted saying “I still think the decision to overthrow Saddam was correct.”After advocating for “striking first” in North Korea and supporting military regime in Syria, Libya and Iran, Bolton has been labeled as a “neoconservative,” a term that he rejects. Perhaps the most concerning behavior he exhibits is his anti-Muslim beliefs.
Bolton has served as chairman of the Gatestone Institution since 2013, which claims to be a non-partisan policy council that is “dedicated to educating the public about what the mainstream media fails to report.” In actuality, it is a far-right organization that fears the U.K. is being ravaged by Islamization and has allowed articles to be posted arguing that Muslim refugees have brought about a “rape epidemic” and “exotic diseases.” By holding a high position in the Gatestone Institution, Bolton is propping up these racist and inappropriate messages. His extremist views paired with the powerful position leave the country in what some fear is a game of war purgatory, waiting for whatever is enough to set Bolton off.
If Bolton were only the chairman of the organization, these ideas would simply be disturbing. As national security advisor, Bolton’s ideas are dangerous. He perpetuates misinformation and Islamophobic propaganda and now has one of the highest positions of influence in foreign policy.
His blatant racism makes him unfit for the job. There is no telling if he will be able to separate his personal beliefs from work. If he cannot, the result could literally mean war. Many citizens are expressing a genuine fear that under his advising, the U.S. will value conflict over resolution. Bolton has been branded a “warmonger” and “trigger-happy” by those who oppose his views, such as former president Jimmy Carter who calls the appointment the “worst mistake” Trump has made so far.
Bolton is not afraid to present his ideas, even when they are so extreme they alienate him from his own political party. A politician should be confident in their convictions, but the fact is Bolton casually projects the ideas of war and hate. Bolton is profiting from a Muslim-fearing, post-9/11 world to push forward an agenda that can potentially more harm in the U.S. than good.
What is most concerning about Bolton is his previous statement claiming that the U.S. “striking first” is “perfectly legitimate,” especially as someone who will soon be in charge of advising Trump for his first meeting with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
It should be noted that Bolton and Trump are not on the same page on all issues. Bolton is very wary of Russia while Trump has formed a close friendship with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Bolton has proposed that the U.S. should make the first move in response to alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to deter any future interference. He even went so far as to say that Putin must be held responsible for his actions.
Trump is on the complete opposite of the spectrum, and is hoping for personal cooperation and congratulating Putin on his re-election. After Russia’s recent increased deployment of Cruise missiles, which violates the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, it seems Trump and Bolton might be at odds with one another on the topic.
It is clear Trump will not be a puppet for Bolton and that the two have conflicting opinions. However, their differences are still not comforting when the person w