Category Archive 'John Bolton'
01 Jul 2020

Nobody Thinks Much of Bolton’s Book


One of the kindest reviews comes from John Lloyd of the Financial Times.

[M]illions of words and images produced over the course of the Trump presidency all converge on a contemptuous assessment of the White House incumbent. So yet another volume—even one written by a person whose leadership of the NSC meant a great deal of face time with Trump—may seem otiose. Indeed, some reviewers have concluded it is exactly that. Bret Stephens, a conservative Trump opponent and columnist for the New York Times, sums up Bolton’s book as one which “tells all, yet somehow manages to say nothing.” The litany of stupidity, ignorance, vanity, and bluster it reveals only causes Stephens to think “knew that” or “not surprised.” A fellow Conservative, the former editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal Gerald Baker, wrote in the (London) Times that Bolton was generally “ineffective,” and should have known better than to join Trump’s administration in the first place. Stephens’s New York Times colleague Jennifer Szalai, meanwhile, is dismissive in another way. Attacking the author rather than his work, she reminds the paper’s largely liberal readership of Bolton’s strongly hawkish views, and finds him deficient in style, organisation of material, and ability to mark out large issues from “a stew of detail.” David Ignatius in the Washington Post and Graeme Wood in the Atlantic are less reproachful, and indeed at times complimentary, but both agree that this is not a significant piece of work.

I think it is, but I should first concede some agreement with the above. It’s not as badly written at Szalai says, but it’s clunky, and certainly overly detailed. Bolton particularly likes to highlight the compliments he receives, even when they come from people he despises or thinks are evil. Trump, we are told, said “I like John”; Russian President Vladimir Putin described Bolton as “very powerful and specific” in argument; and the Supreme Leader of Iran, Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei, offered a compliment dressed as a curse: “Death to Trump, John Bolton, and (Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo.” However, Bolton never provides even the most minimal of introductions to the world leaders he meets and with whom he often speaks at length. Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Boris Johnson, who was then British Foreign Secretary, all drift in and out as mere appendages to his narrative, when a better writer would have provided a brief character sketch to help us locate them as individuals.


01 Feb 2020

Quos Deus Vult Perdere, Prius Dementat

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Not all kamikaze attacks succeed.

Kudos to Mitch McConnell for a good job of Senate leadership. Note that he precisely and economically corralled just the 51-49 vote needed to end the nonsense not as a tie or requiring Chief Justice Roberts to vote. Mitt Romney was permitted to thumb his nose at Trump to avenge previous Trump insults, and Susan Collins also got to vote wrong in order to propitiate all those members of her Down East constituency who threaten to burn her farm and strew her fields with salt if she should fail to vote like a democrat in crunch situations.

John Bolton is a Yale classmate of mine, with whom I used to be mildly acquainted. I tend to suspect that what happened was: some liberal hack at the NY Slimes was reading through the advance copy of Bolton’s book and pounced with avidity on some crumb that appeared to support democrat fantasies of Trump pressuring Ukraine President Zelensky. I run into liberals leaping wildly to self-gratifying conclusions and misreading texts all the time.

I think it would have served them right, if McConnell had agreed to subpoena old John Bolton for them, because I suspect JB detests those democrats about as much as I do, and my own theory is that Bolton would, however he may feel about Donald Trump, take great pleasure in delivering testimony completely adverse to everything the democrats wanted. There’d be Adam Schiff and Jerome Nadler with egg all over their faces.

Fun as that particular denoument might have been, I will concede that Mitch McConnell did the country a favor by moving more quickly to bring all this disgraceful nonsense to a quicker conclusion.

Make no mistake. This episode represents an unseemly, utterly irresponsible, completely reprehensible piece of pure political theater. The charges brought against Donald Trump were nothing but subjective nonsense. There was never the slightest iota of possibility that this impeachment would succeed in removing Trump from office. There was never going to be a two-thirds vote to remove this president in a Republican-majority Senate with a good economy and an absence of strong public support.

The whole thing was nothing but an exercise in fantasy and spite, undertaken without decent regard for due process, or the precedent they were setting, or the injury to the Constitution, simply to feed raw meat to their deranged and radical left-wing base. The democrats even proceeded in this utterly unethical and destructive course despite the massive and disastrous self-harm it inevitably entailed.

The democrat party was already in the unhappy position of having to try to defeat a successful, popular incumbent without any strong viable candidate. The current democrat field is a professional political operative’s nightmare: superannuated, crazy radical, personally repulsive, and/or amateurish and preposterously under-qualified. Why not distract the public from the presidential campaign with an impeachment circus to focus on instead? That’s bound to help. Especially when the impeachment fails, the whole thing blows up in the democrat House majority’s faces, and the public is irritated and made angry.

A famous passage from Sophocles’ Antigone is commonly rendered in English as: Those whom God would destroy, He first makes mad.

12 Sep 2019

“John Bolton Waves Goodbye, Returns To Sea To Be Walrus Again”

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27 Mar 2018

Interpreting the Bolton Appointment

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John Bolton’s entry in the 1970 Yale Old Campus (the kind of entering freshmen yearbook that inspired Facebook). “CC” means he was in (the recently renamed) Calhoun College.

Charles Hugh Smith offers some over-the-top, and consequently amusing, speculations on the meaning of Bolton’s National Security Advisor appointment.

This wing of the Deep State, unquestionably in charge until the election of Donald Trump, finds Trump, well, interesting. Trump can congratulate Vladdy Putin on his shoo-in re-election one day and eject a bunch of Russian diplomats the next.

This sort of non-linear, non-ideologically pure “policy” (or lack thereof) discombobulates the Deep State, which is accustomed to presidents rubber-stamping their agenda and supporting their narrative.

They’re having a tough time controlling Trump, as it’s difficult to read how best to play him: is Trump a master of the Crazy Ivan or is he just winging it? Assuming the latter leaves those acting on that premise vulnerable to a Crazy Ivan once Trump has extracted whatever value he sought from the person or policy.

So how do we decrypt the appointment of Bolton? Here are two possibilities:

1. Trump appointed bete noire Bolton to do the dirty work of cleaning house and ridding the National Security Council and staff of any loyalists to previous presidents or cliques. This Bolton seems prepared to do with both alacrity and relish. This appointment also throws a bone to those demanding a harsher, more interventionist foreign policy.

Once Bolton has cleaned house and disrupted or fired the status quo holdovers from the Obama administration, he’ll be fired like everyone else. Crazy Ivan!

2. The neo-liberal /neo-conservative /neo-colonial wing of the Deep State has given up trying to evict Trump from the White House or manage him. Both of these strategies carry high risks and the assessment has likely been made that both have not just failed, they’re increasingly counter-productive, eroding the legitimacy of those pushing them.

So perhaps the dominant wing of the Deep State is finally willing to cut a deal with Trump: Trump appoints Bolton, whom the Deep State views as the adult supervising the playground, and in return, the Mueller investigation goes away and the Clintons will finally lose the protection of the security agencies. (They’ve become enormous liabilities anyway, and there’s no benefit to the high cost of continuing to protecting them.)


25 Mar 2018

John’s Leftie Yale Classmates are Grinding Their Teeth

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Mark Steyn likes Trump’s appointment of John Bolton as National Security Advisor.

I’ve given up trying to discern ideological themes in Trump’s firings and hirings: as far as I can tell, it’s mostly about people he likes to hang out with. In the case of John Bolton, I first met the new National Security Advisor a decade and a half or so back, in a roomful of European prime ministers and foreign ministers. He delivered a line that stunned the joint:

International law does not trump the US Constitution.

I was standing next to the Finnish Prime Minister, Paavo Lipponen, who had a genuinely puzzled looked on his face and eventually inquired of me: “He is making a joke, no?”



08 Dec 2011

Gingrich Announces Secretary of State Pick

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John Bolton

Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Newt Gingrich said Wednesday that he would offer controversial former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton the position of secretary of state if he wins the presidency.

Gingrich earned cheers for the choice at a forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition, at which nearly all the GOP presidential aspirants appeared separately. Bolton served as President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the U.N. for more than a year but never won Senate confirmation.

Critics described him as hotheaded, and he famously loathed the U.N., which won him conservative fans. Bolton discussed a 2012 presidential run himself but decided against it.

John Bolton (a Yale classmate) did an excellent job as UN Ambassador. He absolutely infuriated the left, and he has since continued to provide a valuable series of commentaries and criticisms of American international policy, particularly focusing on the failures of US administrations to stand up to villainous and barbarous regimes bent on mischief, like that of North Korea. Bolton is an ideal conservative choice for Secretary of State.

31 Aug 2010

Bolton For President

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Salon reports with a major effort at snark on a prospect which obviously alarms them.

John Bolton was a classmate of mine at Yale. We were both active in the Yale Political Union, but John joined the moderate Conservative Party, of which he became Chairman, and I joined the wholly immoderate Party of the Right.

Some Conservative Party members, like John Bolton, actually were pretty conservative nonetheless. The CP, as a whole, unfortunately tended to take anti-Conservative Movement, Rockefeller Republican kind of positions, being dominated in those days by the influence of Yale Law student and freshman counselor Charlie Whitebread.

I didn’t know John Bolton particularly well at Yale, but he was generally recognized as a competent guy and a vigorous competitor in the Union. I have over the years come to appreciate more and more Bolton’s performance in significant roles in Republican Administrations, especially as US Ambassador to the United Nations, and to admire in particular his commendable ability to infuriate liberal democrats.

John Bolton would be an articulate candidate, one well able to debate on even ground with the silver-tongued Barack Obama. I expect he would fill his administration with well-qualified representatives of the Republican Right, would govern with fiscal conservatism domestically, and with firmness and resolution abroad. The GOP could do a lot worse.

28 May 2008

Will Bolton Punch Him Out?

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British leftist George Monbiot (whose name is believed by many to be the etymological source of “moonbat,” the popular pejorative used on the Blogosphere for a seriously addled leftist) is thinking of arresting John Bolton.


John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, faces a citizen’s arrest when he addresses an audience at the Hay Festival in Wales this evening.
George Monbiot, the journalist and activist, is planning the action because he believes Mr Bolton is a “war criminal”.

He said he was surprised that a “war criminal” such as Mr Bolton would be allowed to “swim through the politest of polite soirees – which is of course Hay.”

Mr Bolton, who was the American ambassador to the UN from August 2005 to January 2006, is due to talk at the Hay-on-Wye literary festival at 6.30pm on international relations.

Let’s hope JB decides to resist arrest, and commits a minor war crime on Monbiot’s nose.

20 May 2008

Bolton: “Bush Hit the Nail on the Head in Jerusalem, And I Think the Nails Are Complaining Now”

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Former UN Ambassador (and college classmate) John Bolton defends Bush’s “appeasement” remarks on Hannity & Colmes.

1:30 video

Via Gateway Pundit.

18 May 2007

John Bolton Versus Pompous British Interviewer

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John Bolton delighted Richard at EU Referendum with his combative performance in an interview conducted by snidely superior BBC “presenter” John Humphrys.

BBC radio 18:48 interview

14 Sep 2006

Blogging for John Bolton


John Bolton is nowhere nearly as conservative as I am, poor guy!

But, he’s done the best job of any UN ambassador I can remember, the liberals don’t like him, and he is a classmate of mine, so the least the Blogosphere can do, it seems to me, is to help secure his confirmation.

Blogging for Bolton web-site. Sign up today. If I can support a guy that moderate and good-natured, you can too.

28 Jul 2006

Bolton Nails Kerry

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Two old Yale Political Union debaters clashed at Senate hearings on John Bolton’s confirmation as UN Ambassador.

And John Bolton. former Conservative Party Chairman, Yale Class of 1970, got the better of John Kerry, former Liberal Party Chairman, Yale Class of 1966.


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