John Bolton's appointment as national security advisor has been denounced by foreign policy experts, who have labelled him a warmonger.
Donald Trump has replaced national security advisor H.R. McMaster with former UN ambassador with the Bush administration and Fox News analyst John Bolton, in a move that many pundits suggest puts the US squarely on the path to war.
The President announced the appointment via Twitter on Thursday, saying the official handover will take place on April 9.
I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor. I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/9.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2018
Bolton’s succession has been widely tipped for months, as his hawkish views on foreign policy align closely to Trump’s, and the POTUS has been open about his intention to handpick the Cabinet he wants.
Last month, Bolton wrote an op-ed for the The Wall Street Journal, which plainly stated the US had to strike North Korea with a nuclear warhead.
North Korea is an “imminent threat” to America because it is only months away from achieving the capacity to deliver nuclear warheads to the US mainland, he said.
Therefore “it is perfectly legitimate” for the US to defend itself “by striking [North Korea] first”.
Those content with living with a nuclear #NorthKorea have argued that it can be contained and deterred like the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This assessment is deeply flawed.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) March 15, 2018
He has also previously advocated for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and aggressive action against Iran and Syria.
Prior to the announcement, Richard Painter, the former chief White House ethics lawyer in the Bush administration, warned “with Trump [Bolton] could start a nuclear war”.
His tweet last Friday, read in full: “Bolton is extremely dangerous. He was bad enough in the Bush Administration. With Trump he could start a nuclear war. Every member of the US House and Senate should object now. Loud and clear.”
Bolton is extremely dangerous. He was bad enough in the Bush Administration. With Trump he could start a nuclear war. Every member of the U.S. House and Senate should object now. Loud and clear.https://t.co/Bf3njjaBGg via @commondreams
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) March 17, 2018
Foreign policy experts have since weighed in, sharing their concerns about a far more trigger-happy White House.
“I operate on the assumption that John Bolton should be kept as far away from the levers of foreign policy as possible,” said Christopher Preble, the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute.
“I think I would rest easy if he was dog catcher in Stone Mountain, Georgia. But maybe not.”
Ian Bremmer, president of political risk consultancy firm Eurasia Group, tweeted that Bolton’s hire makes the proposed meeting between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un “far riskier”.
“Probably the worst/biggest single day for geopolitical risk” since Eurasia Group’s founding in 1998,” Bremmer added.
Probably the worst/biggest single day for geopolitical risk since I started @EurasiaGroup in 1998.
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) March 22, 2018
Bolton’s move into the West Wing follows the promotion of CIA Director Mike Pompeo to the secretary of state role in place of Rex Tillerson.
In both cases, Trump clashed with the predecessors over foreign policy, and Bolton and Pompeo are the more agreeable options for the President.