John Bolton

5 Things About John Bolton That Are Worse Than His Mustache

The new national security adviser embodies the reckless interventionism that Trump criticized during his campaign.

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Jeff Malet / Newscom

Donald Trump reportedly hesitated to appoint John Bolton as his national security adviser because he was put off by the former U.N. ambassador's walrus mustache. While this is one of the few areas where I see eye to eye with the president, there may be more substantive reasons to think twice about taking advice from Bolton, who never met a war he did not like and represents precisely the sort of reckless interventionism that Trump criticized during his campaign. Here are five things about John Bolton that are worse than his facial hair:

1. Bolton supported the 2002 invasion of Iraq and still thinks it was a dandy idea. As undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, Bolton was largely responsible for the deception used to justify the invasion of Iraq, a stratagem that Trump has condemned in no uncertain terms. "They lied," Trump said during a presidential debate in February 2016. "They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none, and they knew there were none." Bolton is not only a liar, according to Trump, but a liar who does not learn from his big, fat mistakes. "I still think the decision to overthrow Saddam was correct," he told The Washington Examiner in 2015.

2. Bolton supported the U.S. intervention in the Libyan civil war. In 2011, while seeking the Republican presidential nomination, Bolton called for the assassination of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi, saying he was "a legitimate military target." While Trump initially favored ousting Gadhafi, he later described it as a mistake that, like the Iraq war, created chaotic conditions conducive to terrorism. "Each of these actions [has] helped to throw the region into chaos and [given] ISIS the space it needs to grow and prosper," Trump said in an April 2016 speech. "It all began with the dangerous idea that we could make Western democracies out of countries that had no experience or interest in becoming a Western democracy."

3. Bolton thinks the U.S. should have intervened in the Syrian civil war sooner and more aggressively. "Whatever slim chance there was of empowering a 'moderate' anti-Assad opposition when the civil war began four years ago disappeared while Mr. Obama dithered," he wrote in 2015. As a presidential candidate, Trump counted U.S. meddling in Syria as one of the actions that "helped to throw the region into chaos," although since taking office he has taken a somewhat different view.

4. Bolton agitated for war with Iran. "Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program," he wrote in 2015. "Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action…can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed."

5. Bolton favors attacking North Korea. While Trump recently agreed to a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the hope of negotiating denuclearization, Bolton (as always) favors a more aggressive approach. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece last year, he laid out three "military options," including a pre-emptive strike on "Pyongyang's known nuclear facilities, ballistic-missile factories and launch sites, and submarine bases."

Trump has never been a consistent skeptic of unnecessary wars. Since taking office, he has warmed to war in Syria and Afghanistan. And even when he was highlighting the unintended effects of past interventions, he bragged that he was "a very militaristic person" and promised more money for armed forces he said were already doing too much. The omnibus spending bill that Congress approved this week delivers on that promise with $700 billion in military spending for the current fiscal year, including what the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense touts as "the biggest year-to-year increase in defense funding in 15 years."

Even before that increase, the U.S. had a larger military budget than the next eight biggest spenders combined. Throwing even more money at the Pentagon hardly seems consistent with Trump's complaint that "we're all over the place, fighting in areas that we just shouldn't be fighting in." An outsized military budget invites outsized thinking about how to use it, and an adviser like Bolton will have plenty of ideas.

NEXT: My Conversations with John Bolton

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  1. Everything is worse than John Bolton’s mustache.

    1. Yeah, Bolton’s mustache is his sole redeeming quality. Quit hatin’, Sullum.

      1. I do find him entertaining and he seems like a super nice guy, but yeah, his interventionism is absurd. The positives of his vehement anti-UNism isn’t nearly enough to make up for his interventionism.

        1. I agree that he seems like a super nice guy but I was afraid to say it.

          1. He’s well known for fits of violate rage. So other than that…

            1. Oops I meant violet rage.

              1. I think you meant Purple Rain.

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        2. That may be the best short summary this year of who Bolton is, and what problems now lie ahead. The only upside is we just might need his mindset to deal with Iran – the amount of damage control needed to repair Hillary’s Uranium 1 deal backended by Kerry cash may be an insurmountable task requiring new strategy. It largely depends on Saudi and Paki reactions, but they won’t call all the shots. When you see those two aligning with Israel [for military support of their policies, while searching for “clean hands”], things are very real and the ice is paper thin. I expect things are happening right now, but since the American media don’t cover even 1% of non-US happenings, we are left in the dark.

      2. Do you think the carpet matches the curtains?

        1. He waxes. It’s like a turtle down there.

          1. “It’s like a turtle down there.”

            You mean wrinkly and totally useless when it’s on its back?

    2. Zeb has agreeable taste?

      My God.

      1. You know the worst thing about a Bolton moustache? It acts as a natural bitterness filter and makes IPAs almost tolerable.

    3. The captain kangaroo look? I don’t think I so…

  2. The headline of this article doesn’t make sense., His mustache is awesome, so things worse than his mustache could still be pretty good things.

    1. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aPM-FXHj5gA

      The libertarian in me wants to give Bolton a big sloppy, wet tongue kiss for this speech. He’s clearly an intelligent guy, knows his shit and more than worth listening to.

      Progs sure do have very hard, if deformed and shrunken, boners over this guy. Almost a sure sign he’s more than just a complicit Republican political square dance partner.

  3. TreasonNN finally lost me with this absurd headline.

    Good day, sirs.

    Good day.

    1. We’ll always remember you. Don’t let the Glibs treat you wrong, you hear me?

      1. It’s a terrible headline, but it’s not that bad.

    2. I don’t believe it. Now, Jacob has been around the block, and seems to have a good handle on his craft: it is more important to get read than to get it right. Sorry, but that’s journalism today: no eyes, no paycheck. Where we split hairs on MSM types is they don’t even bother with the flip side of the coin much anymore: getting it right is tossed out the window at the onset of assignment. Mr. Sollum isn’t parked on the wrong side of the looking glass as they are – if that were the case, it would be HuffPo time… I shudder at the thought of zombie land, and any journalist getting their one way ticket to hell on a train built by Arianna.

  4. Why did even consider Michael Bolton for this? He is completely unqualified all he does is play is fucking flute all day. Yeah buddy play the skin flute two kitties at Trump Tarde conking on the tromp

    1. Your attempt to merge OBL with Agile Cyborg is oddly nauseating.

      1. Excuse me, but I was bitching incomprehensibly before OBL uttered his first Drumpf.

        And that’s not Agile Cyborg: That’s Siri.

        I’ll X your Citizen, biatch!

      2. His whole post is incomprehensible. His whole: Wake up, post random words with anti Trump message, touch himself routine is tiresome

  5. Alt-text: “And finally, as a cherry on top of the nostalgia sundae, I grip the moustache like this, to squeeze out the flavors of yesterday.”

    1. Every Friday, he combs it out onto a piece of bread and has himself a lil’ sandwich.

  6. Listicles are the best!

    Top Twenty Fortnite–Playing Politicians!

    15 Sexiest Pantsuits… You won’t believe #11!!!

    1. Now I want to know the video game preferences of all the Congresspeople so I can judge them. Frank Underwood played a Vita (Good taste) so maybe I can be made to trust government yet.

  7. At least he hates the UN; probably more than any person on earth. That is something. As for the rest, when do we go to war with China and Russia [DPRK will just be a side show]?

  8. Question for mustache defenders: When selecting a Wilford Brimley film to masturbate to, do you generally prefer Cocoon or the Thing?

    1. Diabeeetus commercials for me

    2. Hugh Akston rocks the Amish chinstrap, and he does not apologize to you or any other.

      Anyway, it’s oatmeal commercials or nothing.

  9. Trump is gonna make him shave it off.

    1. Underneath the mustache is another mustache.

      1. That’s a crappy super power, but as I am the secret identity of Punctuality Man, I empathize.

        1. Is this all we have left after “safe spaces”? Or did the story bore you guys into a new dimension? Perhaps America is ready for methshine: when you absolutely, positively want to get face down on the ceiling.

  10. Bolton is absolute hot garbage and all hope should be abandoned that any kind of sane foreign policy will emerge from this administration.

    But, I don’t find opposition to Bolton to be terribly convincing coming from a publication that just a few months ago was advocating more sanctions against Russia and printed Brink Lindsey’s defense of the Iraq invasion.

      1. He’s talking about this, from thirteen years ago, which Lindsey will never live down.

    1. Sanctions against a Russia? If the hag were president, it’s entirely likely we would be at war with Russia. Between the two of them, Trump was the peace candidate.

  11. Do you know who else had a bad mustache?

  12. 1) “an option” being presented is not “favoring”.

    2) He’s arguably right about at least the first four – at very least, one cannot simply say “turned out bad, so obviously wrong because the bad was inevitable no matter how things proceeded”.

    Well, I mean, one can say that, but then one can be mocked for it.

    (Iraq “lies”? You might wanna go read the Robb-Silberman report again, rather than just quoting N-th hand think-pieces about “lies” that boil down to “wrong = lied”. Because “Iraq had a WMD program” was not only plausible under the evidence presented by US intelligence, but was an impression Iraq was actively promoting, exactly to make Iran think twice about restarting the Iran-Iraq war.

    “Iraq WMDs!!!” is not a Big Bad Bush Lie, Mr. Sullum. It’s Iraqi brinksmanship gone too far.

    Yes, you’re far more of a dove than my policy preferences; that’s fine. But argue for it more honestly and with more actual arguments than the pottage presented above.

    There are principled arguments for why all of those things might be bad policy.

    Try making some of them next time.)

    1. Too many people forget, or ignore, that WMD encompasses more than nukes.
      There are also chemical, and biological weapons so classified.

    2. +1

      This wrong=lied business is infantile and stupid.

      I’m no Bolton fan, but crissakes Sullum.

  13. Actually I like Bolton, he sure told the UN

  14. Bolton is a scary nut case .

    After accomplishing a lot , eg: cleaning out the EPA , we are starting to see the truly dark side of Trump .

    1. Among so very many other things, the EPA, (and the whole lands regulators, including, if not especially, BLM), are not “cleaned out” at all. Have you ever lived or operated under their loving embrace? And Pruitt and Zinke are hugely under attack.
      It’s one of the things I’ll never forgive Reagan for. They expanded in power under him.

  15. Capitulation avoids war.

    1. Churchill cleaned up that theory once. Must we repeat history?

      1. Exactly. Being super powerful with the will to employ said power is what avoids war.

    2. Who’s arguing for “capitulation?”

      And remember what caused WW2? Hint: it was an earlier, unnecessary war.

      But sure, let’s blow a few trillion dollars invading 3 or 4 more countries on the other side of the world if it’ll help you forget what a failure you are as an individual.

  16. Dolton is a fucking asshat.

    Fuck you ass hat.

  17. “Reckless interventionalism”? I get the point, but compared to what? Frankly, I don’t see a cumulative downside from us acting the way Bolton would have suggested in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, and NK. At worst, he’s 3 out of 5. Right now the USofA is batting .0000.

    1. Yeah, but a lot of people here are rigid non interventionists. So Bolton, right or wrong, is anathema to them. Many of them would probably refuse to act until the enemy hordes are at our border, and likely not even then.

    2. Trillions of dollars aren’t a down side? Jesus Christ.

  18. Oh, leave the moustache alone. It’s got tons of potential as its gone white. Why… he could dye it a hue of green usually reserved for beer on st. patricks. That’ll wake up the fossils in the press corps: like a train wreck, they could never look away.

  19. Fair points, Bolton is a disaster, but the Iraq invasion he still thinks was a good idea began in 2003, not 2002.

  20. Since I have spent 7 years of my life living in the Middle East, I’ll limit my comments to 1 and 3.

    1. The decision to invade Iraq diverted essential military resources from the hunt for Bin Laden in Afghanistan, and was the single biggest foreign policy mistake in the history of the United States. Invading Iraq was the tipping point that destabilized the entire region. We will be paying for this error for decades.

    3. When I saw the first videos from the beginning of the Syrian uprising, I said to myself, “This is not going to turn out well.” If the United States backed any side, they would immediately become “the enemy” to all the others, so better to stay out entirely. If other powers in the area (Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia) wanted to do intervene, fine, let them.

    The United States should have stayed completely out, allowing Bashar al-Assad to slaughter 30,000-50,000 people, as his father did in 1982, and it would have been over with. The wishy-washy response of the Obama administration made a bad situation even worse, and the world (especially neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey) now has to cope with millions of Syrian refugees, while the death toll approaches 500,000.

    1. You should have used ‘one of’ in place of ‘single’.

      1. It’s true, you are a headache!

    2. Bigger than what FDR gave Stalin? I don’t think so. Ten’s of thousands of Poles were slaughtered and caused the US military spending to soar. FDR was mess, his transfer of the Pacific fleet to Pearl Harbor led to thousands of US sailors being killed and he had to fire an admiral who knew better to do it. FDR refused to believe Stalin had killed thousands of Polish officers.

  21. Sounds like a good pick – have a trigger-happy interventionalist as NSA to give the impression that you might easily take his advice, and yet basically ignore him like you do everyone else. It’s like having your cake, and eating it too!

    If only he wasn’t a secret Democrat, he’d be batting 1.000.

  22. I am always suspicious of headlines that start the click bait with personal attacks, and I was right in this case.

    Just for the record, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, because Iraq USED weapons of mass destruction over 341 times.

  23. Oh Noes!!! The ‘Stache!!!

  24. Bolton could throw darts at a map and would recommend military intervention no matter where it hit. I’m afraid Mike Pompeo would be right beside him. It is General Mattis that is the sensible one to discourage military intervention. Hopefully he puts down the Bolton war mongering.

  25. All of those positions could be sound, IF they were taken with some practical end in view, and with an appreciation of the capabilities and limits of military power.

    Obama never had an end in view further than ‘look strong to the voters’, and if there’s a Liberal politician who actually understands more about the military than the acerage goldfish they’ve been jolly quiet these last few decades.

    Regardless of our desires in the matter, Radical Islam is at war with US. Iran, Syria, and Libya have been major enablers of that war. Iraq was, technically, still at war with us and had to be cleared off the table. North Korea has the beginnings of nuclear capability, and a nut in charge.

    Isolationism is a grand position when nobody is shooting at YOU. At the moment it merely insures that when we DO fight, the war will be bigger than it had to be, and more people will die.

  26. I voted for Johnson, my one consolation, Trump beating Clinton, was maybe we’d end these useless wars. Iraq? No WMDs, Qaddafi? No genocide! But Trump has fallen for the lies. He’s become buddies with MBS. 60 minutes… I don’t know what to say. I kept waiting for, “Did your Dad ever find out you imprisoned his wife?”
    I don’t know, I just don’t know.

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