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John Bolton Appointment Divides Conservatives

While many conservatives applauded the replacement of thoroughly discredited deep state denizen National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster with former UN Ambassador John Bolton, the choice was not met with unanimous applause.

John BoltonOur friend Daniel Larison of the American Conservative was especially tough on Ambassador Bolton, calling him “the opposite of an honest broker,” drawing heavily upon the negative impression Bolton left on past associates.

Quoting an article by Sebastian Rotella posted on ProPublica.org, Larison highlighted how many of the people that worked with Bolton remember his tendency to distort intelligence and ignore facts that contradicted his assumptions:

“Anyone who is so cavalier not just with intelligence, but with facts, and so ideologically driven, is unfit to be national security adviser,” said Robert Hutchings, who dealt extensively with Bolton as head of the National Intelligence Council, a high-level agency that synthesizes analysis from across the intelligence community to produce strategic assessments for policymakers. “He’s impervious to information that goes against his preconceived ideological views.”

Larison concluded by observing that:

Trump is especially susceptible to being manipulated by his advisers into endorsing the policies they want because he knows so little and responds so favorably to flattery, and he has shown that he is already more than willing to select a more aggressive option when he is told that it is the “presidential” thing to do. We should expect that Bolton will feed Trump bad or incomplete information, present aggressive options in the most favorable light while dismissing alternatives, and praise Trump’s leadership to get him to go along with the hard-line policies Bolton wants. Bolton will run a very distorted policy process and he will be the opposite of an honest broker. That won’t serve Trump well, and it will be terrible for our foreign policy.

Larison’s criticisms extend the concerns expressed by Senator Rand Paul, who wrote in an op-ed for Fox News:

Bolton has been for all of the wars Donald Trump has been against, most importantly the Iraq war. His policies would have been perfectly at home in a Hillary Clinton administration, but should have no place in President Trump’s White House.

Most disturbingly, Bolton recently called for preemptive war against North Korea, a massive undertaking with potentially horrific consequences for millions. He has doubled down on the decision to overthrow Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, which I agree with President Trump only further destabilized the Middle East. And earlier this year, Bolton explicitly stated, “Our goal should be regime change in Iran.”

These criticisms have been strongly rebutted by a long list of national defense conservatives who reject the idea that everyone who wants to rebuild the military Obama intentionally hollowed out should automatically be dismissed as a “neocon.”

Our friend Jesse Jane Duff, former Marine Gunnery Sergeant and Fox News contributor, told Lou Dobbs, "Bolton is the right man for the right time. He has demonstrated absolute knowledge with North Korea, the situation in Iran, fighting radical Islamic terrorism. He is calling it out the way our nation needs it to be stated."

And, perhaps of equal concern to many on the Right, our friend Ken Blackwell, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and former Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia posted a joint piece in The Hill pointing to John Bolton’s experience as a member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom:

Two decades ago, Congress acted in a bipartisan manner to create a position at the NSC in the same International Religious Freedom Act that established both the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department and the creation of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), on which Bolton has served.

Ambassador Adam Ereli, formerly U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain and Deputy State Department spokesperson during the Bush administration perhaps summed-up the pro-Bolton view best in a column for Townhall in which he observed:

Iran’s protests validate the wisdom of making John Bolton America’s National Security Advisor.  If Iran thinks he’s bad, he must be good.  One thing is certain:  the United States will no longer pursue a policy of appeasement toward the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Whatever flaws one might ascribe to John Bolton, inconsistency is not among them.  He has been advocating a tough policy toward Tehran for the past two decades.  Struan Stevenson, a former member of the European Parliament from Scotland, put it best when he wrote of Bolton’s appointment: “Chamberlain’s policy encouraged Hitler to go to war.  Obama’s Iran policy encouraged the regime to export its terrorism and meddling in the region.  There is only one way to stop the current conflicts and wars in the region:  adopting a firm line with the Iranian regime and supporting the popular uprising for a democratic change in Iran.”

With John Bolton as President Trump’s National Security Advisor, America finally has a senior official who will translate those wise words into action.

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