John Bolton, National Security Manipulator

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John Bolton, National Security Manipulator

The Washington Post reports on John Bolton’s stranglehold on the policy process:

Pentagon and State Department officials have complained, however, about the difficulty of getting an adequate hearing for these debates under Bolton. As a result, arguments about policy frequently are not aired and do not reach the president [bold mine-DL]. The process is “very exclusionary, and Bolton has very sharp elbows,” the senior administration official said.

Bolton has distinguished himself as an abysmal National Security Advisor, and that is by design. He has been very effective as an ideologue pushing his own agenda, and he is filling the National Security Council with like-minded people that share that agenda, but he has deliberately failed at one of his most important jobs of providing the president with a range of views and the best information available.

Bolton is not interested in giving Trump multiple options, but instead hopes to control the information that the president receives so that he can have as much influence as possible over the president’s decision-making. He has redefined the role so that he is National Security Manipulator rather than simply being the president’s personal adviser.

He is concentrating an extraordinary amount of power in his own hands at the expense of the quality of the policy process. Watching as he has been able to get his way on almost everything over the last year shows us the practical consequences of allowing an unelected, unconfirmed fanatic to run U.S. foreign policy according to his preferences.

Iran policy has been firmly under Bolton’s control:

Administration officials interviewed by The Washington Post said that national security adviser John Bolton has dominated Iran policy, keeping a tight rein on information that gets to the president and sharply reducing meetings in which top officials gather in the White House’s Situation Room to discuss the policy.

It is no accident that the administration policy where Bolton’s influence has been greatest has become the most provocative and dangerous one. Bolton limits information that reaches the president so that he can filter everything and put his spin on every new event.

This allows Bolton to spoonfeed Trump his ideological agenda, and the famously incurious and ill-informed president probably has no idea that he is being kept in the dark that there are other policy options and views available that he might choose from. Even with the best information available Trump would likely make bad decisions, but when he isn’t told anything except what Bolton wants him to hear he is guaranteed to make horrible ones.

As long as Bolton remains in his position, U.S. foreign policy will continue to be a series of provocations and blunders that brings our country closer to avoidable conflicts.


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