Call your MoCs to say a firm, fierce, but polite NO to the possibility of Trump installing John Bolton as the next National Security Adviser, and while you’re at it, ask them to pass bills that restrict the president from attacking another country with nuclear weapons.
Update: This post originally appeared on March 20, 2018. In the early evening of March 22, 2018, word broke that Trump had in fact chosen Bolton as his next national security adviser.
The original text below details why Bolton is a catastrophically bad choice.
In light of recent events we have updated the calling script below and amended it to include a request to support bills in both chambers that would stop the president from attacking another country with nuclear weapons. (The policy is sometimes called no-first-use.)
Yes, we realize that Bolton is not subject to Congressional approval, and we realize that McMaster’s last day is April 9, 2018, so the switch won’t happen immediately. But Congress is well aware of how bad Bolton is. If they hear from us–if we loudly, sharply, firmly, politely raise our voices and urge them to speak out against Bolton–it could make a difference.
As always, look to Celeste Pewter on Twitter (@Celeste_Pewter) for updates on this score. She’s prepping her own script as I (Sarah Jane) type this, so if you don’t like the one laid out below, you’ll have a second option soon.
Original text follows.
First, some background: The current national security adviser is H. R. McMaster, who is regarded as a decent choice and a grown-up in the room.
Unlike other firings, Trump is taking this one slowly and respectfully, relatively speaking. Evidently, he wants to send McMaster out as a four-star general (he currently has three stars).
This Washington Post piece on the expected firing says that Trump and McMaster never ‘gelled’:
Now, the bigger problem. One of the people Trump is considering to replace McMaster is John Bolton, who served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush.
Bolton would be a catastrophic choice for this sensitive post, which, incidentally, is NOT subject to Congressional confirmation. Here are some enlightening quotes drawn from various articles that explore why Bolton would be the worst possible person for the job.
“I operate on the assumption that John Bolton should be kept as far away from the levers of foreign policy as possible,” says Christopher Preble, the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. “I think I would rest easy if he was dog catcher in Stone Mountain, Georgia. But maybe not.”
“Bolton hates the State Department. He portrays US diplomats as closet Democrats and appeasers,” Richard Gowan, a professor at Columbia University who has studied Bolton’s career, recalls. “As NSA, he would almost certainly encourage the hollowing out of State Trump and Tillerson have begun.”
“If Bolton becomes the national security adviser, the United States has not hit rock bottom in our international relations,” says [Mieke] Eoyang, [the vice president for foreign policy at the center-left think tank Third Way.] “We could go lower.”
That’s all from a March 12, 2018 Vox piece, which you really ought to read in full. It’s an eye-opener:
Ethicist Richard W. Painter tweeted on Friday, March 16, 2018:
“John Bolton was by far the most dangerous man we had in the entire eight years of the Bush Administration. Hiring him as the president’s top national security advisor is an invitation to war, perhaps nuclear war. This must be stopped at all costs.”
He ended a tweet with a link to an Atlantic article titled Hiring John Bolton Would Be a Betrayal of Donald Trump’s Base, which details how Bolton’s warmongering ways goes against the promises Trump made on the campaign trail:
And then there’s the CNN Op-Ed with the bracingly blunt title John Bolton’s Mustache Is More Qualified to Be National Security Adviser Than He Is. David Rothkopf, a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, wrote it. He probably didn’t choose the headline, but he did write these lines about Bolton:
“Few prominent national security figures are as ill-suited to the job of national security adviser as Bolton when you consider his views, his temperament and his ability be an honest broker. In fact, he is actually one of the few people on earth who would be worse than Mike Flynn, who was the worst national security adviser of all time.”
So, yes, please call your MoCs and yell about this.
Yes, MoCs cannot actually prevent Trump from appointing Bolton. As stated before, this is not a post that requires Congressional approval. But! A loud, fierce, forceful (and polite, don’t forget polite) reaction from their constituents will get back to GOP leadership, and to Trump. Democratic and Republican colleagues in the House and Senate talk to each other, and Congressional Republicans talk to Trump. We can apply pressure indirectly.
Sample script for your MoCs: “Dear House Rep/Senator [Lastname], I am [Firstname Lastname from town, state], and I am calling to voice my firm, fierce, sharp opposition to John Bolton replacing H.R. McMaster as Trump’s national security adviser. Bolton’s more bomb-happy than Curtis “Bombs Away” LeMay. The only reason he served as our Ambassador to the UN under George W. Bush is because the Senate Foreign Intelligence Committee blocked the nomination twice and Bush had to resort to a recess appointment. Bolton’s answer to any conflict always seems to be “war, war, and more war.”
Bolton already recommended doing a first strike on North Korea–on March 1, 2018, he tweeted: “The threat from North Korea is imminent, and the case against pre-emption rests on the misinterpretation of a standard that derives from prenuclear, ballistic-missile times… Given the gaps in U.S. intelligence about North Korea, we should not wait until the very last minute to deal with this threat. If we wait, we risk striking after the North has deliverable nuclear weapons, a much more dangerous situation.”
I realize that the post of national security advisor is not subject to Congressional approval, but given the threat that Bolton poses to America, I am asking you to tell your colleagues in Congress how important it is that Trump choose someone else. Bolton should never get near this sensitive, critical job. If he does, we could be looking at a third ongoing war, and a nuclear one at that.
On a related note, I am also asking you to support (H.R. 669/S.200), The Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. The House version is sponsored by Rep. Ted Lieu of California and the Senate version is sponsored by Ed Markey of Massachusetts. The bill would do exactly what you think it would do–it only lets the president use nuclear weapons to attack another country if Congress declares war first.
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