The scariest things John Bolton has said

Trump’s new national security adviser really, really wants to bomb Iran and North Korea.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaks during CPAC 2018 February 22, 2018 in National Harbor, Maryland. CREDIT: Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaks during CPAC 2018 February 22, 2018 in National Harbor, Maryland. CREDIT: Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

National security adviser H.R. McMaster is the latest Trump administration casualty. He will be replaced by former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, President Donald Trump announced in a tweet Thursday evening.

“I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend,” Trump said. McMaster will officially leave his job April 9.

Bolton, who helped cover up the Iran-Contra scandal, holds a number of extreme foreign policy positions, and represents a shift even among Trump administration officials. Here are some of his dangerous, hawkish foreign policy and national security stances.


On bombing Iran
“The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure,” Bolton wrote in a 2015 New York Times column headlined, “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”

“The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.”

On bombing North Korea
“Pre-emption opponents argue that action is not justified because Pyongyang does not constitute an ‘imminent threat.’ They are wrong. The threat is imminent, and the case against pre-emption rests on the misinterpretation of a standard that derives from prenuclear, pre-ballistic-missile times,” Bolton wrote last month in a Wall Street Journal column headlined, “The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First.”

“Given the gaps in U.S. intelligence about North Korea, we should not wait until the very last minute. That would risk striking after the North has deliverable nuclear weapons, a much more dangerous situation.”

On the war in Iraq
“We are confident that Saddam Hussein has hidden weapons of mass destruction and production facilities in Iraq,” Bolton said in 2002 while serving as President George W. Bush’s under secretary of state for Arms Control and International Security.


There were not, of course, hidden weapons of mass destruction and production facilities in Iraq, but in 2015, Bolton said he had no regrets.

“I still think the decision to overthrow Saddam was correct. I think decisions made after that decision were wrong, although I think the worst decision made after that was the 2011 decision to withdraw U.S. and coalition forces,” Bolton said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. “The people who say, ‘Oh things would have been much better if you didn’t overthrow Saddam’ miss the point that today’s Middle East does not flow totally and unchangeably from the decision to overthrow Saddam alone.”

On ‘radical Islam’
“I think it’s important to say, at the outset every time the subject comes up, that we are talking about politics and ideology here,” he said at a conference in 2016. “This is not a question about religion. And those who say that ‘when you talk about radical Islam you are insulting Muslims all over the world,’ are simply engaged in propaganda.”

On Obama’s drone program
“It seems to me that the approach that the Obama administration is following is consistent with and really derived from the Bush administration approach to the War on Terror,” Bolton said on Fox in 2013. “And I think it is entirely sensible. Whether it is foreign citizens who are involved with Al Qaeda or American citizens, we are in a war. They have attacked us. We have a congressional authorization to use military force in response. And that’s what’s at stake here. This is not, you know, robbing the 7-Eleven down on the corner. These people are engaged in war against the United States.”

On Syrian refugees
“We have no obligation to bring them into this country,” Bolton said in an interview with Fox News in 2015.

On a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine
“We have just seen in the past days the final crash, if you needed any more evidence, that the two-state solution is a nonstarter,” he said in 2014. “[A two-state solution] would inevitably lead to a terror state on the other side of the border with Israel.”


On ‘provocative’ presidents
“We have a president who believes that our strength is provocative, only if we were less pushy, less American even,” Bolton said of Obama in 2012. “But it is American weakness that’s provocative and we have a very provocative president in the White House.”