John Bolton

Trump Picks John Bolton to Be New National Security Advisor

Non-interventionists, consider yourselves repudiated.


Michael Brochstein/ZUMA Press/Newscom

President Donald Trump announced Thursday that former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton would replace H.R. McMaster as National Security Advisor.

Bolton is a strident neoconservative who invariably takes the position that the U.S. military should intervene in more conflicts around the globe. He was a prominent backer of both the Iraq War and the Obama-era intervention in Libya, and has advocated for nuclear war with Iran. Less than a month ago, he penned an op-ed making a legal case for attacking North Korea. (Read Reason's Eric Boehm for more on Bolton's blood-thirsty foreign policy approach.)

Bolton is thus a rebuke to Trump supporters who thought they were voting for a less interventionist GOP when they backed candidate Donald over more hawkish alternatives.

Trump himself has frequently criticized former President Bush's neoconservative foreign policy, but the choice of Bolton as National Security Advisor suggests Trump isn't particularly committed to a less hawkish foreign policy. In fact, Trump's biggest beef with Bolton might have been the man's mustache, rather than his enthusiastic support for the kind of nation-building Trump supposedly rejects, according to Vox's Zack Beauchamp.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul, a skeptic of endless wars, previously told me that he would do anything he could to prevent Bolton from becoming secretary of state. The National Security Advisor position, however, is not subject to Senate confirmation, which means the senator from Kentucky probably can't do much to stop him.

For more on Bolton's awfulness, read Matt Welch and Brian Doherty.

NEXT: Rand Paul Reads the Omnibus Spending Bill (Because Someone Has To)

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  1. What makes him a “neo”conservative?. He was never formerly a liberal, he’s always been a hawkish conservative.

    1. His “Mark Twain” countenance.

      1. Samuel Clemens just threw up in his grave at the thought.

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    2. the term, used accurately can generally refer either to

      a) “formerly-liberal jewish intellectuals who broke with the new left over foreign policy (specifically, because they were anticommunist and pro-israel”

      (see: irving kristol, leo strauss, and their offspring like pearle, wolfowitz, feith)


      b) people in the foreign policy establishment who advocated for an aggressive US posture in the wake of the end of the cold war (basically, the 1990s) in order to capitalize on the sudden global power gap with a weakened russia, china, etc….and believed the US should act unilaterally, and abandon the sort of clinton-esque micro-managing of ‘hot spots’ and instead act decisively to get rid of potential threats while the getting was good.

      Bolton clearly isn’t “A”. Whether he’s B or not… i don’t really know. from my review of his govt jobs in the 1990s, it doesn’t seem so.

      Was he wasn’t a member of the “project for a new american century”? I don’t know. those were the people demanding removal of saddam in the 1990s. It seems unlikely as he worked for James Baker 1997-2000, and Baker was on the “Nay” side on that subject.

      I think robby, like most younger journalists, just uses the term to mean “hawkish” because they think it ‘sounds smart’.

          1. I agree with you on this. The term Neo-conservative has morphed like ‘alt-right’ has kind of morphed. It gets used to explain a broad spectrum of people that didn’t really refer to the original group that engendered the moniker.

            1. I’ve also been complaining about its loosey-goosey use by media since the mid 2000s

              every neocon is (most often) pretty hawkish; not every hawkish politician is a neocon.

              1. I’ve also been complaining about its loosey-goosey use by media since the mid 2000s

                HUMBLE-BRAG ALERT!

                1. HUMBLE-BRAG ALERT!

                  I was playing golf with Bill Murray the other day, he agreed.

                  1. I was having a threesome with Hope Hicks and Stormy Daniels. After they both got their breath back from the multiple orgasms I just gave them, they both agreed I had incredible insight in the subject.

      1. **Correction

        “core members of the PNAC including Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, R. James Woolsey, Elliot Abrams, Donald Rumsfeld, Robert Zoellick, and John Bolton were among the signatories of an open letter initiated by the PNAC to President Bill Clinton calling for the removal of Saddam Hussein.[19][24]”

        judgment: fair use

        1. perhaps interesting fodder for the “How Neocon is John Bolton?” question

          Matthew Gertz Verified account @MattGertz
          Retweeted Sahil Kapur

          [Bolton] Never met a war he didn’t like.

          A recent op-ed by the president’s soon-to-be national security adviser.

          Bill Kristol Verified account @BillKristol
          Replying to @MattGertz

          Not so–I remember arguing with him about our intervention in the Balkans in the 90s, which I supported and I believe he was against.

          Which maybe speaks to the blind-spot libertarians have with the “Intervention/non-intervention” false dichotomy

          No one supports ‘intervention for intervention’s sake’. There is no foreign relations theory of “Lol just fuck with everyone for no reason”, tho that seems to be some people’s conception of it. Most have some strategic outlook that informs their degree of hawkishness. Lumping them all into single-buckets ends up eliding differences that might actually matter.

          for instance, i’d suspect that Reason folk would probably speak quite respectfully of Jamie Kirchick; yet his own FP stances are just as (if not more, in some ways) ‘interventionist’ as Bolton. Its just that he hails from the more wilsonian, multilateral tradition of ‘intervention’ rather than the (yuck) ‘neocon’ one.

          1. No one supports ‘intervention for intervention’s sake’. There is no foreign relations theory of “Lol just fuck with everyone for no reason”

            I suppose I really do need to go ahead and come up with a name for it.

            1. “Bombs4theLulz-ism”

          2. Psychology research would suggest the opposite. People decide to bomb and then rationalize the decision.

            We need leaders who rationalize decisions not to bomb.

      2. Of late, I’ve listened to a few discussions on different podcasts between John Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg, and Matthew Contenetti (all current conservative wonks who are children or in-laws of the 70s generation of wonks) on the “neo-con” question. Norman Podhoretz, one of the original “liberals mugged by reality,” always apparently stressed how that group differed not in belief in methodology, borrowing the social science and sociological theories that many had learned in academia as members of the Left and applying them to theories of the Right (not even necessarily on foreign policy, nor necessarily from previously Marxist/Communist perspectives ?men like Bill Bennett were among the original neoconservatives writing in the same journals despite being Catholics working only on domestic social issues).

        Because of the social science turn in International Relations in the 1980s and how those theories were picked up at the end of the Cold War (folks like Fukuyama bringing Conflict Theory and Critical Theory out of the Far Left and into the Right and Center-Left), neoconservatism became increasingly identified with American “hawks” like Wolfawitz on the Right who were using social science practices for foreign policy analysis.

        1. “that group differed not in belief in methodology”

          was this meant to be “[Neocons] differed in belief, not methodology”?

          it was hard to parse your sense.

          its certainly true that one of the defining features of Neocons, compared to their Realpolitik predecessors like Kissenger, is:

          a) that they were “intellectuals” rather than purely-Machiavellian opportunists, purely aiming at “whatever self interest demands”

          (my above point about their emergence in the wake of the cold-war might be misleading on this point; they emerged as a force in the FP establishment over the issue of whether or not GHWB should have finished off Saddam; the Scowcroft and Jim Baker side were Realists and said, “don’t risk it”; the Neocons said, “its a moral obligation (and also expedient)”

          and b) that they were very staunch moralists, tho that might be surprising to many that think of them in one-dimensional terms. they share this quality with the Left’s “Humanitarian Interventionism” (e.g. Sam Power); people who think the US should save the world from itself. Their main difference is that the Neocons think we should only save the Good Ones (i.e. Israel) and actively destroy the Bad Ones (Not Israel) whenever occasion permits. Many of the neocon types genuninely think that the job of the US should be to eradicate “evil” where it exists, because we have the power to do so.

          1. ‘the Neocons said, “its a moral obligation (and also expedient)””

            perhaps missing from this: the also posited (per their social science theory) that removing a despot like Saddam would spark a change in the entire dynamic in the middle east, and would ultimately result in a wave of democratic revolutions throughout the region.

            basically, sort of an inverse domino-theory: get rid of the Big Baddie, and the other bad regimes (like Ghaddafi, Assad, etc) would be suddenly looking weak, and the emergent democratic order in Iraq would provide a model for the rest to…. etc etc.

            on one hand – they might have been ‘half right’ in the worst possible way. The Arab Spring of 2010-2011 i think can probably be traced to the effects of the Iraq War. but the outcomes of the Arab spring i think are likely the opposite of what most Neocons envisaged.

            i imagine if Bill Kristol had his opportunity to speak on the topic, he’d probably say, “give it time”. As though eventually history will redeem them.

          2. they share this quality with the Left’s “Humanitarian Interventionism” (e.g. Sam Power)

            This was GayJay’s 2016 campaign foreign policy.

        2. Neoconservatism is exactly about the post-Cold War reaction. Jeane Kirkpatrick (formerly liberal) and Pat Buchanan (always conservative) were both hawks during the 1980’s. Both turned anti-interventionist after. Jeane Kirkpatrick even wrote a great article – Normal Country in a Normal Time – where she basically said – We won. Now we can become a normal country again after two generations of being at war and don’t need to be very concerned about foreign policy as much.

          The neocons decided that the end of the Cold War meant that the US needed to step into the vacuum and manage the world to our will

          1. “”The neocons decided that the end of the Cold War meant that the US needed to step into the vacuum and manage the world to our will””

            Yes, but that’s a feature common to many schools of thought, and not a unique differentiating characteristic of Neoconservatism.

            most people in the foreign policy world (at least the ones who managed to influence presidents) agreed that the post-cold-war environment was a time ripe to expand US power.

            the difference was, ‘how to accomplish that goal’ and to make US influence permanent. there were very very different opinions on the “How”.

            Clinton and the Warren-Christopher-types, for instance, believed “managing the world” was a combination of institutional control – see: world bank/IMF, UN, etc – and superficial appearance of multilateralism providing cover for US influence. You control the world by *not appearing to*.

            Neocons believed the opposite – that these institutions and their influence ended up being controlled by the worst possible people. and that they become self-serving, rather than serving the interests of any nations. And they think “showing power” provided self-reinforcing benefits. Being seen kicking the shit out of bad people makes other bad people less likely to gain power.

            and that’s sort of the whole point about what made neocons distinctive; that they eschewed multilateralism, believed in visible exercise of power + ‘moral authority’.

            1. So, “cowboyism”, basically.

      3. I think a simpler definition is that National Review likes him.

    3. He was part of PNAC.

  2. Trump’s just trollin’ the lamestream media libs. lulz.

    1. Oh, Crusty, you’re so sexy when you use internet lingo.

        1. You ain’t nothing but a soyboy.

          1. Cash me outside howbow dah.

          2. Cryin’ all the time.

        2. You ain’t nothing but a soyboy.

          1. Cash me outside howbow dah.

        3. You ain’t nothing but a soyboy.

          1. Cash me outside howbow dah.

        4. You ain’t nothing but a soyboy.

          1. Cash me outside howbow dah.

        5. You ain’t nothing but a soyboy.

          1. Cash me outside howbow dah.

  3. Now all they have to do is instigate Iran to trigger its terrorist sleeper cells to attack the US and allies across the world, and use that as a pretext to nuke the Ayatollah. The plan is coming together nicely…..

  4. Oh, I thought it was that saxophone or clarinet dude. Whew!

    1. That is Kenny G, you are thinking of Michael Bolton who was also on adult contemporary stations at the same time. Go on YouTube and check out the song “Jack Sparrow” from SNL to see Michael Bolton in action.

      1. The 80’s and 90’s are kind of a blur.

  5. Can he be dual-hatted? If Trump makes him Abassador to the UN again I can live with another hawk (they’re all hawks so its not like there’s a choice).

  6. Now, *there’s* a blast from the past!

    1. More like a blast from the ass.

  7. You know who else had a really cool moustache?

    1. Colonel Sanders? Freddie Mercury? Luigi? Otto Von Bismarck? Josef Stalin? Dracula in Billy and Mandy? Your mother?

      1. Your mother?


      1. All of our moms?

    2. Great horny toads!

      1. I hate to break it to you, but they weren’t actually your mom. You were adopted.

      2. Go Horny Toads! Go TCU. Go frogs!

    3. Boris Badenov? Snidely Whiplash? Motor Ed? Shore Leave?

    4. JOhn Stossel?

    5. Hitler? It’s Hitler isn’t it.

      1. He always had a thing for butch girls.
        He always had a thing for androgyny.

    6. Rollie Fingers?

    7. John Waters

  8. OT Just read about this, but the story came out last week.…..06094.html

    Jailhouse video shows deputies watching, laughing as inmate dies

    The video clearly shows one deputy turn to another and smile as Holland lay dying after finally being released from the restraint chair where he had been strapped, naked except for a helmet, for nearly two full days.

    At other points in the more than 100 hours of video footage viewed by The Tribune, officers are seen joking. One makes arm and neck motions in an apparent attempt to mock Holland’s movements.

    Yet as far as we know, there were no terminations or even suspensions of those involved.

  9. So just poking around the internet, and apparently the only people who are actually happy about this are (1) the commentariat here and (2) Israel. Hmmmm……

    1. We’re happy about this? Hmmmm……

        1. Heey, Crusty, how’d you get known as the biggest pervert on this site?

            1. Seeeriously Crusty, how did you do it? Gimme all the details.

              1. It all started with a love of liberty, individualism, and depravity.

                1. Deeeepravity?

                  1. More like peeeeeepravity, am I right?

                    1. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew.

                    2. I just want to know what is up with the chinchilla thing.

                    3. I just want to know what is up with the chinchilla thing.

                      You and me both, friend. You and me both.

  10. As prominent #Resistance intellectuals like Laurence Tribe have pointed out, this administration is so completely owned by Russia that the highest level personnel decisions are dictated directly by Putin. Recall Tillerson ? hired in the first place as a Russian plant, then fired because he grew a spine or a conscience or something and would no longer play ball. If Bolton lasts longer than a month in this job, it will prove that Putin wants him there.

    1. Too realistic to be a totally effective spoof.

  11. Apparently, Trump really loves those “As seen on TV” bargains.

  12. Great. Just great.

  13. Tired of trolling Democrats, Trump has moved on to libertarians.

    1. Aw, come on. Nobody got this?

  14. Trump might not bring about a world depression followed by another world war in one day, but maybe one week.

    1. It will be the biggest depression, the best!

    2. Hey, mercantilism and “civilization-establishing” military campaigns worked out great for the Europeans a hundred years ago, why not us?

  15. Given the musical chairs game going on in this administration, it’s hard to see how anyone on Earth can take our country’s government seriously.

    1. Having a nuclear arsenal means never having to not be silly.

    2. The only possible positive outcome.
      Especially so if the ‘not takeking seriously’ takes hold domestically.

    1. Who knew they were such crybabies? Sad!

    2. Phew. I’ve been getting nervous that we might not have a trade war.

      1. Any excuse to mark up prices down at the lot, eh?

        1. Nah man, everyone else raises them. I keep them the same. Makes it easy to keep being the best.

          1. If only those other amateurs knew they could make it up in volume.

      2. Technically multiple countries have a trade war against the USA.

  16. Walter Block and Lew Rockwell look better and better.

  17. Why trump would pick a washed up ballad singer from the 90s to be UN ambassador, I have no idea.

    1. Didn’t he hook up with those Lonely Island guys to record a tune about movies?

    2. You haven’t seen his Big Sexy Valentine’s Day Special if you think he’s washed up.

    3. A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes (and I wish for some wars)

      A Time For Letting Go – letting our bomb payload go, that is

      All That You Deserve is an invasion

      All The Way to Defcon 5

      Back deploying My Arms Again

      Can I Bomb You…There?

      Can You Feel Me…as I unleash my arsenal upon you

      Can’t Turn It Off, the war machine never stops

      Dancing In The Street, once we’ve won a decisive victory

      Don’t Tell Me It’s Over, I still got more places to bomb

      (And that’s as far as I got down his playlist)

      1. I thought it was “Don’t Tell Me It’s Over, I’ve still got some bombs left over”.

        1. Ah, yes, similar to his “Don’t Tell Me I’m Overdrawn, I Still Have Checks.”

          1. Sadly also applicable to America’s geopolitical situation.

  18. Have to agree – not a big fan of Bolton. He consistently calls for the US military intervention all over the globe, even if the conflict doesn’t directly affect the US or our allies and without considering that we are already beyond broke.

    1. We already don’t have the money, it’s not as if a few billion more will make any difference.


      1. We’re just waiting to see what happens. It’s gonna be wild.

  19. “Non-interventionists, consider yourselves repudiated.”

    Trump is President, not Bolton.

    Hillary is an interventionist, she aint President because of Trump and his supporters.

    Didn’t you prefer Hillary over Trump?

    Consider yourself repudiated.

      1. Oh for God’s sake, it was her turn!

    1. This sounds very much like desperation.

      You know and every retarded slime-mold knows that Hillary is not an interventionist on the level of Bolton. You’re just trying to cope with your support for Trump. And for god’s sake why bother.

      1. Tony|3.23.18 @ 12:12AM|#
        “This sounds very much like desperation.”

        This *is* projection.

  20. War boner.


    1. Slice of Sauce is currently being manufactured at a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Brooklyn, New York,

    2. As much as I object on aesthetic, culinary and gustatory grounds I don’t see any fraud here. Unlike that ersatz “mayo” half the staff wanted to gay marry

  21. It is now 0 Days since Robby didn’t include a Vox link or cite.

    1. ^ Triggered Soaveflake lol

      1. Why all this white knighting for Robbo?

  22. Say what you will about Trump’s pick, Bolton isn’t as bad as who Hillary would have picked. Oh, wait, no – Bolton is exactly who Hillary would have picked.

    1. Except really not.

      1. Her version of Roose might have had tits.

        1. Still a mustache though?

    1. So, he’s a hybrid of warmongering asshole and naked opportunist?

      1. A naked asshole, huh? Maybe I like him more than I thought.

  23. Bolton and Pompeo are true Russiaphobes. They will want more sanctions and NATO military buildups. I just don’t see how Trump is going to get along with them, even if they all agree on bombing Iran. Because Russia will retaliate and they’ll need a unified front. I suspect Trump feels this is the best he can do, in which case I kinda feel sorry for him.

  24. Ha ha you Rhoemites! The antisemites are thrown back on their heels. You Rhoemites at “Reason” are looking to Iran to Iran to nuke Israel and kill its six million Jews; i.e., create another holocaust. There is less of a chance of that with John Bolton at the helm.

    Christmas has come very early: Silent Night.

    1. You got to work on your flow, man.

    2. Oh my fucking knish. Underzog. The best and longest-running “Jewish” persona in the tubes. I thought you were dead, bro. You ok?

  25. The Bolton pick isn’t about Bolton’s views on anything. It’s about Trump surrounding himself with people he can trust.

    Quick walk down Memory Ln. The only Republicans who bet their political futures on Trump during the primaries (Larry Kudlow, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, John Bolton, Rudy Giulliani, Chris Christie) were Republicans who had no political future to lose.

    The exception was Jeff Sessions, and Trump didn’t pick him to be Attorney General because he supported Sessions’ positions on . . . anything. He picked him because he thought he could trust Sessions to watch his back. He feels like Sessions stuck a knife in it instead, which is probably one of the reasons why Trump is surrounding himself with people he trusts.

    If John Bolton weren’t Trump’s adviser, his highest foregone alternative is arguing with Kennedy on Fox’s little league channel. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Trump get those others in positions around him soon, too. It isn’t about anybody’s position on any issue. It’s about Trump wanting people around him he can trust.

    How many people has Trump found knifing him in the back already?

    1. The local talk station plays clips from Kennedy and they talk about how much they hate her.

      So she’s made it.

  26. I had the pleasure of calling our new National Security Advisor a “fucking war criminal” to his face. I’m rather proud of that.

    1. Why would you be proud of making Mr. Bolton that much more certain of his moral superiority by presenting yourself as the face of his opposition?

      1. Whatever. I’m fine with being the dumb one and not killing a million people in the ME. What kind of libertarian are you anyway? Power deserves to be confronted. Why weren’t libertarians out there protesting the Iraq War. Oh that’s right… it’s because using the military to kill poor people isn’t mission #1, protecting the profits of billionaires is. Fuck off.

        1. Yes, power, and John Bolton, do deserve to be confronted. My point was that they deserve to be confronted by better than the likes of you.

          1. Oh, go fuck yourself. Where were libertarians in the winter of 2002. Sitting on their asses? For Pete’s sake don’t let the CPUSA show you how to confront the military-industrial complex the next time John Bolton lies out of his ass to commit war crimes.

            1. Yeah, I bet all the serp i molots waving in defiance really made the war’s supporters and fence-sitters question themselves.

              Nothing catastrophically counter-productive about a bunch of communists visibly coming out in support of something. Nothing at all.

              Well done. You truly made a difference. Dumbass.

            2. Also, I’m sure you have some evidence, beyond your own biased anecdotal testimony, that “libertarians” did in fact “sit on their asses” rather than attend protests and so forth.

              Evidence which I’m sure, recognizing your mistake in making the assertion without presenting the evidence substantiating it up to this point, you’ll present forthwith before continuing to make said assertion. Evidence-based assertions being such a well-known strong suit of communist apologists.

  27. Was this pencil-necked pogue ever even in the military? He acts more like a cop than a warfighting sage. Bluster and guns, all tactics and no strategy.

    Robbo: neocons are a specific and narrowly defined group. Bolton is not a neocon. He’s just an asshole.

    1. Bolton joined the national guard to avoid going to Vietnam.

  28. Well, if we do end up invading some new countries, hopefully Trump will at least have the common sense to loot them properly! That’s why the USA is going bankrupt. We spend all the money that empires of old did on wars, but we don’t even loot them once we win! That’s why we’re crumbling after barley a few decades of this stuff, but Rome, Britain, France, etc lasted centuries.

    Trump ain’t no genius, but he does have some horse sense like his comment about how we should have stolen all of Iraq’s oil!

  29. So Trump bashes W as a dumb president who got us into a dumb war. yet, he appoints someone on the dumb spectrum of that foreign policy he bashed. Just goes to show you this guy has no thought process. Whatever feels good is fine with him. He probably saw Bolton on FOX saying something in praise of Trump and then immediately he thinks “yes, that’s the man”. Watch him fire Bolton the minute they have a heated difference in POV on something.

    1. Trump is like an 8-dimensional man in a world filled with 2-dimensional thinkers. Sad!


  30. I find it interesting people cannot see the difference between ensuring all options are on the table where they can be seen by the opposition vs. the Obama/Progressive appeasement of taking options off the table at the beginning so there is no ability to negotiate from strength.

  31. John Bolton arguing for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea:

    John Bolton is a tax and war-spend hawk. He never met an expensive and bloody war he didn’t like.

  32. Bolton could throw darts at a map and tell you why we need military intervention at any point he hits. At least General Mattis will be the powerful voice not to get into an unnecessary war.

  33. I dig the stache, sort of gives him a captain kangaroo vibe. Having said that tho, I’ll trust Rand on this one

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