2018-03-29

The real danger of John Bolton

By: Daoud Kuttab

Most politicians and pundits have already spoken out about the dangers that the appointment of John Bolton as the national security advisor to President Donald Trump possess. A quick search of his controversial diplomatic career reveals a hardline extremist who would solve all the world problems using America’s military power.
 
The biggest flashpoints that Washington has to deal with are solvable using the US defence capabilities.
 
Bolton has said that he does not expect anything from the proposed Trump summit with the North Korean leader and has been repeatedly quoted as favouring a military solution.
 
In Iran, Bolton has also suggested that the current regime will disappear by 2019 due to America’s military might. In the Arab-Israeli conflict, John Bolton has favoured the hawkish position of Israeli right-wing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and even further. One of the first to congratulate Bolton was the right-wing head of the Jewish home party Naftali Bennet.
 
But as worrisome as those previous statements are, the real danger from Bolton lies somewhere else.
 
Unlike other top government positions, the national security adviser’s post does not need to be confirmed by the US Senate. Apparently, the tradition was made to shield the president’s adviser from the politicisation of being confirmed.
 
The national security adviser is not supposed to create policy or make his own recommendations, but is supposed to synthesise the ideas and recommendations of all other agencies. As an inter-agency coordinating body, the National Security Council and its head are expected to collect all the recommendations from defence, state, homeland security and other related agencies and summarise them into easy to understand recommendations. This job becomes even more dangerous with a president who is known to prefer watching TV than reading memos.
 
The objectivity and neutrality as well as the temperament of this post are of utmost importance.
 
None of these adjectives can be applied to John Bolton.
 
A review of his previous controversies shows that he is known to intimidate subordinates to produce the documents and ideas he wants. He is known to skewer ideas to fit his predetermined solutions for world problems.
 
The situation becomes even more worrisome when the appointment of Bolton is taken into consideration with that of the new secretary of state George Pomepeo and the new head of the CIA.
 
Together, the national security team is made of anti-Iran nuclear deal, anti-North Korea and otherwise hawks on the various conflicts around the world. The only sane voice that remains appears that of Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.
 
The appointment of such a controversial person might reveal different issues, including the fact that the White House might not be able to fit the two egotistic leaders Trump and Bolton.
 
If Bolton runs into a controversy with Trump he might not stay long in his position. The problem, however, is that by that time it might be too late for world peace.

* A Palestinian columnist based in Amman, Jordan. - dkuttab@ammannet.net