‘It’s gonna be a weird ride’ — Journalist Dexter Filkins Explains John Bolton’s Push For ‘Aggressive Use’ Of American Power

“Bolton threatened him and threatened his family. And he said, look; we want you to quit. We know where your daughters live. We know where your sons live. We know where your wife lives. It’s time for you to go.”

By Terry Gross
Fresh Air (5/2/19)

New Yorker writer Dexter Filkins says President Trump’s current national security adviser is a hawk who sees America as “a colossus operating anywhere it wants.”

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(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )


John Bolton On The Warpath 

By Dexter Filkins
The New Yorker (4/29/19)

Earlier this year, as Donald Trump prepared to meet the North Korean Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un, in Vietnam, he took a moment in the State of the Union address to congratulate himself on a diplomatic masterstroke: “If I had not been elected President of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea, with potentially millions of people killed.” For John Bolton, the national-security adviser, the summit represented a conundrum. Two months before he entered the White House, in April, 2018, he had called for preëmptive war with North Korea. During the past two decades, Bolton has established himself as the Republican Party’s most militant foreign-policy thinker—an advocate of aggressive force who ridicules anyone who disagrees. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, he argued that Kim’s regime would soon be able to strike the United States with nuclear weapons, and that we should attack before it was too late. “The threat is imminent,” he wrote. “It is perfectly legitimate for the United States to respond to the current ‘necessity’ posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons by striking first.”

Trump—erratic, impulsive, and largely ignorant of foreign affairs—has promised since the start of his Presidency to scale back America’s foreign commitments and to cut its expenses. With North Korea, he began by trying to intimidate Kim into surrendering his nuclear arsenal, threatening “fire and fury” and mocking him as “Little Rocket Man.” When that failed, Trump embarked on a campaign of diplomacy by sentiment, meeting Kim in Singapore and, despite their failure to reach an agreement, declaring, “We fell in love.” In Hanoi, he intended to try again.

Since the early two-thousands, Bolton has told anyone who would listen that North Korea will never seriously consider giving up its nuclear weapons, no matter what threats or inducements the Americans present; negotiations only bought the regime more time. Privately, he told aides that the summit in Hanoi was unlikely to succeed. “It’s hard to find people here who aren’t deeply skeptical,” an Administration official said to me. “But this is something the President wants to try, and Bolton has promised to support him.”

When I saw Bolton in his office, on a frigid winter day, he was mild-mannered and spoke in a reedy voice that belied his ferocious opinions. …

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