John Bolton: Here's What Trump's New National Security Adviser Thinks About North Korea, Russia and Iran

President Donald Trump's new national security advisor John Bolton is a notorious hawk on foreign policy.

The 69-year-old, recognisable for his bushy moustache, is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Most recently, he was a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, and a regular contributor to Fox News.

He will replace the resigning incumbent H. R. McMaster on April 9.

Bolton has often pushed for an aggressive strategy against America's enemies and rivals. He is well known for his staunch support of the 2003 Iraq War. Back in the early 2000s, Bolton was President George W. Bush's Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and was instrumental in building the long-discredited case that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

John Bolton
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Maryland, U.S. February 24, 2017. Bolton was appointed by Preisdent Trump as his new national security advisor. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

But after his appointment was announced by Trump, Bolton disregarded his past positions on various foreign policy issues.

"During my career, I have written I don't know how many articles and op-eds and opinion pieces. I have given," Bolton told The Story on Fox News.

"I can't count the number of speeches, I have countless interviews...They're all out there in the public record. I have never been shy about what my views are."

He added: "Frankly, what I have said in private now is behind me...The important thing is what the president says and the advice I give him."

Here's a small selection of what Bolton has said in the recent past about North Korea, Russia, and Iran—three of the most pressing foreign policy issues facing the U.S.

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 preemption rests on the misinterpretation of a standard that derives from prenuclear, pre-ballistic-missile times. 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.

"The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First," The Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2018.


The president should say no foreign power, no foreign power messes with American elections. Nobody around the world challenges the American constitution. And I'll tell you this: I think we ought to retaliate for the Russian cyberattacks on our election process. I think the retaliation should no be proportionate. I think it should be decidedly disproportionate. I think this is to create structures of deterrence so that neither the Russians nor anybody else think about trying it again. I think that's the right policy.

CPAC 2018 panel titled "What Is The Biggest Threat To The U.S.: a) Russia, b) China, c) Rogue States, or d) All Of The Above," February 2018.

...attempting to undermine America's constitution is far more than just a quotidian covert operation. It is in fact a casus belli, a true act of war, and one Washington will never tolerate.

For Trump, it should be a highly salutary lesson about the character of Russia's leadership to watch Putin lie to him. And it should be a fire-bell-in-the-night warning about the value Moscow places on honesty, whether regarding election interference, nuclear proliferation, arms control or the Middle East: negotiate with Russia at your peril.

"Putin looked Trump in the eye and lied. Negotiate with Russia at our peril," The Daily Telegraph, July 10, 2017


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. 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.

"To Stop Iran's Bomb, Bomb Iran," The New York Times, March 26, 2015