Statement on John Bolton in as NSC Advisor

March 22, 2018

Statement on John Bolton in as NSC Advisor

Washington, DC – Reporting indicates that Ambassador John Bolton will now replace Gen. H.R. McMaster as President Trump’s National Security Advisor. This decision continues the crisis around President Trump’s cabinet, a move that is dangerous for America’s foreign policy and further diminishes our ability to lead. Ambassador Bolton represents the worst in American foreign policy adventurism. This pick signals to the rest of the world that President Trump has no regard for diplomacy and values a political yes-man who favors military interventionism over national security expertise. This appointment is even more concerning because Bolton will not have to face Senate confirmation, that last remaining check that our nation has on the White House’s reckless foreign policy.

Background: John Bolton is a dangerous choice for National Security Advisor

“Our goal should be regime change in Iran.” – John Bolton, January 1, 2018

President Trump will dismiss his National Security Advisor, H. R. McMaster, as part of the Cabinet reshuffle he began earlier this month with the announcement of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s firing and replace him with Ambassador John Bolton. Mr. Bolton will use his platform to advocate for another war that the American people do not support.

Bolton served in both Bush Administrations, most recently as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and prior to that as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. He used these positions to undermine the international institutions responsible for nonproliferation of WMDs. Having served at the U.N., Bolton should know better than anyone the monitoring and verification capabilities that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) employs to monitor Iran’s nuclear program under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) but he has repeatedly chosen to mislead the American people saying that, “these measures are worse than useless for nonproliferation purposes” — a claim that is not supported by the facts and with which all our allies and negotiating partners disagree.

Bolton has also advocated for a first strike against North Korea, which would cost millions of South Korean and American lives, even if we consider only retaliation with conventional weapons, not Kim’s nuclear capabilities, and not taking into account civilian victims in North Korea. This is not a justifiable position, and that someone who holds these views would become the President’s closest advisor on national security and foreign policy — particularly at a delicate time for diplomacy with North Korea and on the cusp of a major decision over the future of the Iran nuclear agreement — would further undermine the U.S. Government’s ability to engage in diplomacy and make conflict more likely across the globe.

Ambassador Bolton helped get the United States into a bloody, costly war in Iraq for which we are still paying the price. And he is somehow eager to repeat that experience — only with countries that are better armed and organized.

John Bolton has categorically disqualified himself from serving as National Security Advisor with many years of extremist, hawkish comments and embrace of regime change as policy. Here is a selection:

1. In a January 15, 2018 Wall Street Journal op-ed, arguing that the Obama Administration was uninformed (it wasn’t — in fact there was an almost unprecedented interagency effort to coordinate intelligence and scientific analysis in support of the JCPOA negotiations) and that Iran and North Korea are linked, suggesting that a military solution for one would call for a military solution to both:

“Mr. Trump correctly sees Mr. Obama’s deal as a massive strategic blunder, but his advisers have inexplicably persuaded him not to withdraw.

The Iran agreement rests on inadequate knowledge and fundamentally flawed premises. Mr. Obama threw away any prospect of learning basic facts about Iran’s capabilities. Provisions for international inspection of suspected military-related nuclear facilities are utterly inadequate, and the U.S. is likely not even aware of all the locations. Little is known, at least publicly, about longstanding Iranian-North Korean cooperation on nuclear and ballistic-missile technology. It is foolish to play down Tehran’s threat because of Pyongyang’s provocations. They are two sides of the same coin.

America’s declared policy should be ending Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution before its 40th anniversary.

Recognizing a new Iranian regime in 2019 would reverse the shame of once seeing our diplomats held hostage for 444 days. The former hostages can cut the ribbon to open the new U.S. Embassy in Tehran.”

2. He advocated for an Israeli first strike on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in a New York Times op-ed titled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran” (March 26, 2015):

“The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.

Rendering inoperable the Natanz and Fordow uranium-enrichment installations and the Arak heavy-water production facility and reactor would be priorities. So, too, would be the little-noticed but critical uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan. An attack need not destroy all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but by breaking key links in the nuclear-fuel cycle, it could set back its program by three to five years. The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.”

3. On Fox News, October 13, 2017, reacting to the President’s decision not to certify the nuclear agreement:

“My preference – and I’ve said this all along – is that we just ought to abrogate the deal and get out of it…I think we’re headed in the right direction.

…The very fact that we’ve gone through this negotiation shows [the Iranians] can’t be trusted…The fact is they won’t [adhere to their obligations].”

4. On Fox News, January 1, 2018, reacting to the news of protests in Iran and advocating for an official U.S. policy of regime change:

“Now especially . . . seeing the . . . the danger the regime is in, to turn away the opportunity to put the economic screws on in a big way, I think, would be a tragic mistake for the administration.”

5. On Twitter, January 15, 2018, seemingly arguing that there’s no reason for the U.S. to uphold its international obligations when he doesn’t like them — and contradicting the assessment of the intelligence community and our allies that (a) Iran is adhering to the nuclear agreement and (b) it was a very good deal for the West:

“There’s been far too much debate over whether #Iran is in violation of the #NuclearDeal. The point is that this was a bad deal to begin with and it’s a bad deal now and it should be torn up.”