John Bolton is Gone: Why Was He Ever Chosen?

BoltonOn September 10, 2019, President Donald Trump accepted the resignation of John Bolton, the National Security Advisor he chose in April of 2018.

Bolton is the quintessential foreign policy hawk, who believes forceful action — what some call regime change — should be the preferred option in dealing with nations the U.S.  perceives as threats.

The question could enter people’s mind as to why a President who saw himself as an accomplished deal maker and campaigned on the promise of ending U.S. endless wars would choose an advisor like Bolton. Perhaps the answer is that John Bolton’s purported aim is the same as Donald Trump’s: advocate for American interests.

But, unfortunately, no matter how sincere is Bolton’s aim, Trump must have finally faced the fact that the devil is in the details, and Bolton’s strategy has never included deal making or ending war in the maintenance of regime change.

As noted in a comprehensive article in The Atlantic, in his memoir Surrender is Not an Option John Bolton expresses contempt for what he views as soft foreign policy.

State careerists are schooled in accommodation and compromise with foreigners, rather than aggressive advocacy of U.S. interests, which might inconveniently disrupt the serenity of diplomatic exchanges, not to mention dinner parties and receptions.

The problem that Trump possibly had to face in Bolton’s case is that in government, just as in business, something either works as advertised or it does not. True, the bigger the entity, the more freely it can paper over discrepancies between what is said and what is done.

However, the failures of regime changes are becoming simply too obvious to hide: Guatemala, Chile, Iran, Zaire, Afghanistan, Iraq.  The autocrats that took over these nations after the U.S. intervened left them no better than before intervention.

There is a saying, “War is the health of the state.” Hawks like John Bolton probably sincerely believe that. However, Thomas Jefferson might have had a better idea,

Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliances with none.  Thomas Jefferson, Inaugural Address.