Second Trump Term Puts NATO 'Very Much in Jeopardy,' John Bolton Says

Former national security adviser John Bolton has warned of dire consequences for America's traditional alliances if President Donald Trump secures a second term in the White House.

In a virtual conversation organized by the Yalta European Strategy organization on Thursday, Bolton said Trump is a politician without a philosophy driven by his transactional outlook and instinct. This would be magnified in a second term without concern for re-election, he said.

"I think he becomes much more unpredictable, much more uncertain, and, frankly, much more dangerous," Bolton said of a second term Trump. "Which is why for the first time in my adult political life, I'm not voting for the Republican nominee for president."

Bolton has previously said he will write in the name of a Republican and would not vote for Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump has habitually maligned America's traditional rivals during his time in office, and is accused of cosying up to dictators like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The president has openly mocked and threatened America's NATO allies in particular, whether calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "two-faced," dismissing French President Emmanuel Macron as "very nasty," or Chancellor Angela Merkel's Germany "delinquent."

Trump has demanded that NATO members up their defense spending to the pre-agreed target of 2 percent of GDP by 2024. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has credited Trump with an uptick in spending, though key nations including Germany still have not met the target. A second Trump will likely mean more internal alliance tensions.

"I do think NATO is in jeopardy," Bolton said at the YES event Thursday. "I think the future of the alliance is very much in jeopardy. And I would apply that really around the world—South Korea and Japan as well."

"I think Trump has done a lot of damage to the reputation of the United States as a friend and ally."

Bolton left the White House under a cloud in September 2019, having clashed with the president on a range of foreign policy issues. Bolton is a veteran of the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party, and has long pushed for more hawkish and interventionist U.S. foreign policy. He was a key advocate of the disastrous Iraq War during President George W. Bush's tenure.

Bolton recently published a tell-all book detailing his time in the White House, and painting the Trump administration as chaotic, amateur and corrupt. Trump and his allies dismissed the book, the president tweeting of Bolton: "Frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now."

Bolton has said he took the NSA role in the hope of guiding Trump towards what he considered more sound conservative principles. Bolton has admitted he was largely unsuccessful, though considers helping dismantle the Iran nuclear deal a major personal achievement.

HIs best-selling book drew ire from the left and right. Democrats criticized Bolton for sitting on information that could have been used against Trump in his impeachment trial. Bolton has dismissed the impeachment as a poorly-executed political stunt that emboldened, rather than chastened, the president.

Bolton's book and his constant public criticism of the president has also angered the right, including former colleagues. As well as Trump's characteristic attacks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for example, has branded Bolton a "traitor." The White House even took legal action to try ad block the book's publication.

On Thursday, Bolton repeated his criticism of the president's political outlook, and lamented what he believes has been a deeply damaging term for conservative philosophy. "Donald Trump does not have a philosophy. He's not a conservative. He's not a liberal, either," he said.

"In American terms, he's Donald Trump. He doesn't think in terms of grand strategy. He doesn't even think in terms of policy as we normally understand that word in Washington or international affairs."

"He thinks transactionally, ad hoc and radically, emotionally, instinctively. And he thinks largely in terms of its impact on his own image."

JOhn Bolton, Donald Trump, election 2020, NATO
Former national security adviser John Bolton is pictured at the Page Auditorium on the campus of Duke University on February 17, in Durham, North Carolina. Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images/Getty