‘We’re All Going To Die’ And Other Reactions To The Reemergence Of John Bolton

Donald Trump crossed another line this week by naming John Bolton to be his next national security adviser. The semi-well known mustachioed pundit and former Bush era co-architect of the Iraq War, not to mention other foreign policy blunders, becomes yet the latest maniac to join Trump’s effort to transform the west wing into the set of Fox & Friends. 

If Trump: Year One was occupied by so-called “adults,” year two appears to be the Fox News era. Who knows? If there’s a year three, will Trump’s staff be replaced with former “Apprentice” contestants? Will year four be “Celebrity Apprentice” staffers, like Economic Adviser Meat Loaf and Secretary of State Leeza Gibbons? Hey, look, anything’s possible these days. Hell, the guy who guest-hosts Fox & Friends when Brian Kilmeade is sick was just nominated to run the Department of Veterans Affairs. The guy who’s not good enough to be Brian Kilmeade (a brain worm victim, by the way) has just been nominated to a cabinet level secretary post. 

Again, do not underestimate how insane this will get.

The designation of Bolton as Trump’s right-hand man in the Situation Room should terrify everyone, including neocons and interventionists. Here are just a few of the more reasonable reactions to Bolton’s return to the White House:

Richard Haass, Council on Foreign Relations:

[Trump] is now set for war on 3 fronts: political vs Bob Mueller, economic vs China/others on trade, and actual vs. Iran and/or North Korea. This is the most perilous moment in modern American history-and it has been largely brought about by ourselves, not by events.

John Dean, Former Nixon-era White House Counsel:

We’re all going to die…

Fred Kaplan, Foreign Policy Author and Slate Columnist:

It’s time to push the panic button.

Richard Painter, Bush 43 White House Ethics Lawyer:

Bolton is an invitation to war, perhaps nuclear war. He is the most dangerous man to serve in this administration to date, and he is in a position where it could be easy for him to cause a war. John Bolton completes Trump’s America first goals.

One more:

All former Bush administration officials should have zero standing on Syria. Iraq was a waste of blood & treasure.

That last one was tweeted by someone named Donald Trump (sic?) in September of 2013. Maybe Donald Trump from 2013 should have a chat with Donald Trump from 2018. Where’s that time-traveling Delorean, Biff?

All told, your comparisons to Ramsay Bolton aren’t far off.

Meanwhile, that metallic grinding you’re hearing outside your window is the sound of Trumpers suddenly metamorphosing from “America First” isolationists into radically liberal (small “L”) interventionists. The new rally cry from the MAGA Hats will be the drumbeat for war in, at least, Iran and North Korea. The return of Bolton and his psycho-hawk approach to foreign policy is now a major cog in the Trump personality cult, and any inconsistencies between the pre-Bolton era and the current Fox News regime are irrelevant. If Trump vouches for it, Trumpers will accept it without question.

They simply won’t mind the fact that the doomsday clock has moved another minute closer to midnight because nuclear war on the Korean peninsula is now all but assured. Not only is Trump inexplicably taunting China with an unnecessary trade war, further imperiling China’s assistance in talking Pyongyang down, but Bolton will absolutely rubberstamp Trump’s “fire and fury” tendencies. Indeed, I reluctantly predicted long before the election that if Trump won, we’d see new video of a mushroom cloud. Bolton is just the kind of crackpot to encourage Trump to deploy a live nuke, either as a test to intimidate Kim Jong-un, or as part of Trump’s well-known cruel whimsy. He simply loves chaos, and what better way to stir the shitstorm than by lighting one up on an atoll in the South Pacific, or — yeah — on the Korean peninsula?

At the very least, we can expect Bolton to worsen the effort to peacefully re-bottle Kim’s nuclear program. Consider what Bolton did during the Bush years while serving in the Bush 43 State Department:

Bolton was Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security when the Bush administration made the fateful decision in 2002 to kill the 1994 Agreed Framework agreement with North Korea. The Clinton-era accord froze North Korea’s plutonium program under effective verification. But when it was discovered that Pyongyang was pursuing a separate uranium enrichment program with the help of Pakistan, a key decision had to be made: re-engage in diplomacy to expand the agreement to prohibit uranium enrichment or tear it up, isolate a member of the “Axis of Evil,” and push for regime change. President George W. Bush, guided in part by Bolton, chose the latter approach. And once the Agreed Framework collapsed, North Korea took the secured plutonium under its control and built about half a dozen additional nuclear weapons, testing its first in 2006. For many arms control and non-proliferation experts, this case represents a cautionary tale about the risks of foreclosing diplomatic engagement. In Bolton’s mind, however, North Korea’s actions simply prove that diplomacy doesn’t work with rogue states, and that the only solution is to end these regimes all together, through U.S. military might if necessary.

Shorter: there was an agreement in place to halt and reverse Kim Jong-il’s nuclear program and Bolton ended up helping to spark its continued development.

All of that said, we’re not quite on the doorstep of a global thermonuclear war, but we’ve moved closer to that endgame. Trump clearly isn’t contented to, himself, be an agent of mayhem and instability (and Russia). He’s bringing on both war hawks and legal/media hawks to help him fight his personal battles as the stakes of the Mueller probe grow hotter. To repeat: the closer Mueller gets to frog-marching Trump out of the White House, the crazier and less predictable Trump will become.

Try to have a good weekend, and keep your loved-ones close.