Last year, National Review published an article by John Bolton, the perennial war hawk who last served in government during the George W. Bush administration, fittingly titled “How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal.” At the beginning of this year, The National Interest favorably reported on the idea that President Trump may replace his national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, with Bolton. Earlier this week, amid rumors that McMaster will soon resign, CNN reported on an Oval Office meeting between Trump and Bolton.
The problem isn’t just that Bolton is singularly ill-suited for the role—he also represents a set of views diametrically opposed to the policies that helped the president secure his job. Trump won the GOP primaries and the White House in part by taking the position that the Iraq War was a dumb waste of American lives and resources.
Here’s what he told voters:
We’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that, frankly, if they were there and if we could have spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems—our airports and all the other problems we have—we would have been a lot better off, I can tell you that right now. We have done a tremendous disservice not only to the Middle East—we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity. The people that have been killed, the people that have been wiped away—and for what?
It’s not like we had victory.
It’s a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized, a total and complete mess. I wish we had the $4 trillion or $5 trillion. I wish it were spent right here in the United States on schools, hospitals, roads, airports, and everything else that are all falling apart!
Around the same time, John Bolton was telling David Drucker of The Washington Examiner, “I still think the decision to overthrow Saddam was correct. I think decisions made after that decision were wrong, although I think the worst decision made after that was the 2011 decision to withdraw U.S. and coalition forces. The people who say, ‘Oh, things would have been much better if you didn’t overthrow Saddam,’ miss the point that today’s Middle East does not flow totally and unchangeably from the decision to overthrow Saddam alone.”