Bolton and Trump’s Foreign Policy Judgment
John Bolton is already agitating for Trump to repudiate the nuclear deal:
One key step would be to abrogate the Iran nuclear deal in his first days in office. There will be considerable diplomacy required to explain this courageous but necessary decision, but the unambiguous signal it would send worldwide cannot be underestimated [bold mine-DL].
Bolton is right that this would send an “unambiguous signal” around the world, but it isn’t the one he imagines it will be. It would confirm to Trump’s domestic supporters that his foreign policy is being run by the sort of people they thought they were getting rid of when they elected him, and it would tell our allies and adversaries that negotiated agreements we make with them can’t be trusted to last from one president to the next. It would announce to the world that the U.S. is being run by a president with no interest in diplomatic solutions, and convince all pariah states that they shouldn’t bother making concessions when the U.S. will just renege on its side of the bargain anyway. In short, it would quickly prove Trump’s critics that they were right about his lack of judgment and knowledge, and it would start his presidency off with a major blunder.
Trump would be wise to ignore everything Bolton says, but Bolton is presumably being talked about as a possible Secretary of State nominee because Trump or others close to Trump believe he is a good choice for that role. The fact that he has National Review‘s ringing endorsement for the position should remind everyone why that is exactly wrong. As Jon Basil Utley points out on the main page, this is part of a larger problem with the foreign policy transition:
The risk is that Trump’s foreign-affairs transition team becomes infiltrated. Much of the transition is being run out of the Heritage Foundation, which was a big promoter of the Iraq War.
If the likes of Bolton, Giuliani, and Flynn are being seriously considered for Cabinet and National Security Council positions, I think we can conclude that this already happened a while ago. And it shows that Trump’s bad foreign policy judgment isn’t just limited to taking the wrong positions on certain issues, but extends to trusting in the faulty judgment of hard-liners that have been consistently wrong about most things for the last fifteen years.