Scott Pruitt may have installed a $43,000 cone of silence at the EPA, but Donald Trump has bested him. He’s brought in John Bolton as his own personal echo chamber—and that’s likely to be much, much more expensive for us all.
Now that Bolton has laid his mustache in the seat warmed up for him by Michael Flynn and H. R. McMaster, how long do we have to wait before something blows up? Probably not very long.
Combative, relentless and proudly impolitic, known for a bushy mustache that is the delight of cartoonists, Mr. Bolton, the enfant terrible of the Bush administration, has a kindred spirit of sorts in Mr. Trump, a fellow practitioner of blowtorch politics. When Mr. Bolton moves into Henry A. Kissinger’s old corner office in the West Wing, it will be a Trumpian marriage of man and moment.
McMaster, who was merely a lieutenant general with 34 years of military experience and a PhD in American history, was too tame for Donald Trump. To find someone with the gung-ho, bombs away attitude Trump needed, he had to ditch the general and find someone whose “I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy” put him in tune with Trump’s own fondness for seeing violence—at a distance. And unfortunately, there will be plenty of opportunities for the pair to sit down to popcorn and a secure feed of military missions in action.
Syria and it most powerful ally, Russia, blamed Israel for striking an airbase in the war-torn country on Monday, following a suspected chemical gas attack that drew condemnation from world powers.
Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed two Israeli F-15 warplanes launched airstrikes on the T-4 base in central Syria from Lebanese territory, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.
With Bashar al-Assad reading Trump’s big, loud announcement that the United States was getting out of Syria as permission to crank up the chemical attacks, and someone following up with a flight of missiles into a Syrian air base, it may be a matter of minutes to hours before Bolton gets to guide Trump’s finger away from the giant Coke button to that other button.
“How will he manage Trump?” asked Eric S. Edelman, an under secretary of defense under Mr. Bush who was often allied with Mr. Bolton. “Trump may love to see John defending him on Fox News. But when John is going to be responsible for policies, he has very strong convictions on things, some of which won’t line up with the president’s.”
“John’s personality is also fairly explosive like the president’s,” he added. “I don’t know how that will work out. That will be John’s big challenge.”
Despite the many claims by Trump that he likes conflict in his cabinet, his joy in watching people scrap is limited to when they plant their claws in each other. He has carefully weeded his staff not just of anyone who ever said “No” to him, but of anyone who didn’t say “Yes” quickly enough. Bolton is the world’s most dangerous yes man.
Bolton’s world view—one in which America can bomb its way out of any problem, and where trying to resolve a dispute through diplomacy shows weakness—is a frightening echo of Trump. Rather than talk Trump down from his worst flights of destructive fancy, Bolton is well-positioned and temperamentally suited to join Trump in a peace-shattering reverb.
In the world of carrot-and-stick diplomacy, Mr. Bolton is a stick man. “I don’t do carrots,” he has said. Opponents call him a warmonger who never met a problem that did not have a military solution, and he remains a strong supporter of the invasion of Iraq and has made the case for strikes against North Korea and Iran to stop their nuclear programs.
It’s not just their world views that align Trump and Bolton. The New York Times article on America’s new national security advisor gives a heart-warming portrait of the man with a big responsibility for all our futures.
Some of Mr. Bolton’s harshest critics are those who once worked with him. They use words like “arrogant,” “backstabber” and “disloyal” and others that cannot be printed in a family newspaper. Some view his ascension to the right hand of an already mercurial president with deep alarm.
If you’ve been looking for a side business, bomb shelters are really doing well.