There’s growing speculation that President-elect Donald Trump will nominate John Bolton as secretary of state.
According to Politico, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is the “narrow favorite” to become the nation’s next secretary of state, however, Bolton is rumored to be a top contender.
“I am very proud to have helped maintain Republican majorities in the U.S. House and Senate,” Bolton said in a statement after last Tuesday’s election. “With these majorities, President-Elect Trump will be able to effectively pass legislation that will strengthen our national security and grow America’s influence around the world.”
Here’s what you need to know about Bolton:
1. Bolton Served in the George W. Bush Administration
Bolton served in the George W. Bush administration as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton, who is known as one of the most hawkish members of the Republican foreign policy community, served for two years as UN ambassador until the Senate blocked his long-term appointment.
Bolton has been vocal in his efforts to prioritize American sovereignty over internationalism. He is highly opposed to international institutions that could threaten American interests or power.
As UN ambassador, “he removed America’s signature from the treaty creating the International Criminal Court, and negotiated over 100 bilateral agreements to prevent Americans from being delivered into the ICC’s custody,” according to National Review. “And he negotiated America’s withdrawal from the 1972 ABM Treaty so President Bush could launch a national missile-defense program to protect America from the likes of rogue states such as Iran and North Korea.”
2. Bolton Has Criticized the United Nations
Bolton has disparaged the United Nations in the past, once saying “There’s no such thing as the United Nations. If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”
Bolton has highly criticized the organization on numerous occasions. However, he does not call for its dissolution. Instead, Bolton feels the United States’ financial contributions should be voluntary rather than assessed.
He believes this change would incentivize the UN to conduct themselves properly.
Bolton explained this in a 2015 op-ed:
When international organizations — like businesses or private charities — have to demonstrate competence, efficiency, and effectiveness, they either perform or disappear. This would be an extraordinarily valuable lesson for the entire UN to learn. The United States should also never forget that withdrawal from certain UN agencies is an available option, as Ronald Reagan proved by leaving UNESCO.
Shifting to voluntary contributions means adopting two principles that, at the UN at least, would be profoundly revolutionary. We would pay only for what we want, and we would insist that we get what we pay for — that is, real performance.
3. Bolton Was a Strong Supporter of the Iraq War
Bolton, a strong supporter of the Iraq war, was in favor of invading Iraq as early as 1998.
In the Bush administration, he was one of the officials who promoted false information about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program. His stance didn’t change after the discovery that Hussein’s regime did not possess weapons of mass destruction.
Last year, Bolton told the Washington Examiner that he stands by his support for ousting the Iraqi dictator.
“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,” Bolton said to the publication. “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.”
During the presidential election, Trump repeatedly said he immediately opposed the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq— however there is no evidence that he did so.
4. Bolton Opposes the U.S.-Led Nuclear Deal With Iran
Bolton has called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – also known as the Iran Deal – “the worst appeasement in American history.”
“All of our adversaries, and even our friends, are appalled by what they’ve seen. And the abandonment of our decades-long, bipartisan policy of not negotiating with terrorists. But it was all part of the nuclear deal,” Bolton said according to Breitbart.
In an op-ed published in The New York Post on Sunday, Bolton called on Trump to reverse the deal:
One key step would be to abrogate the Iran nuclear deal in his first days in office. There will be considerable diplomacy required to explain this courageous but necessary decision, but the unambiguous signal it would send worldwide cannot be underestimated.
5. Bolton Graduated From Yale
Bolton received his B.A. and J.D. from Yale University. The 67-year-old has held high-level roles in three different Republican administrations between 1998 and 2006.
He is now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
Bolton has not directly addressed rumors that he could become Trump’s secretary of state, however he implied that he is open to the possibility.
“It’s been an honor to serve my country, it would be an honor to serve again,” he told Sky News. “But this is a decision for the president-elect. He’ll make that decision in God’s good time, and then we’ll all move on.”
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