In 2008, a British environmental activist attempted to perform a citizen’s arrest on John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, during a speech in London. He failed. Top officials with George W. Bush’s Administration, Bolton in particular, were widely considered war criminals for their role in launching a deadly war in Iraq, torturing prisoners, and hiding evidence of wrongdoing.
The crux of this international animus was Bush’s false claim that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and therefore posed an immediate and mortal threat to global security. As an advisor to Secretary of State Colin Powell during Bush’s first term, Bolton enthusiastically pushed the WMD pretext for war.
“Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had a robust program to develop all types of weapons of mass destruction—nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, and the capability to deliver them,” Bolton said a few months after the 2003 invasion.
That was just one of Bolton’s many exaggerations—to put it charitably—about Hussein’s arsenal. A bipartisan Senate committee the following year concluded the Bush Administration’s pre-war intelligence about WMDs was faulty and the threat had been overstated—no stockpiles of active agents intended to kill large numbers of people were found. The war escalated and officially ended in 2011, even though U.S. troops remain in Iraq today. Nearly 5,000 Americans have been killed in Iraq, including seven this year alone.
But being a dishonest warmonger means never having to say you’re sorry to the country you misled, or to the families of the soldiers and civilians killed by your malfeasance; in fact, it means you land lucrative gigs at think tanks and news outlets—which is exactly what Bolton did—as you patiently await your next opportunity to infiltrate the perches of power and bring your incompetence, ego, and careerism with you—which is exactly what Bolton did to Donald Trump.
Now, the mustachioed ogre who the Left once wanted to see strung up at The Hague is earning affection and attention by the Trump-hating Beltway establishment that has eluded him for years. Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened, is the latest broadside against Donald Trump and, as the story goes, the president is really done this time!
“The differences between this presidency and previous ones I had served were stunning,” Trump’s fired national security advisor writes—as if that’s some sort of condemnation of Trump and not Bolton’s former bosses. President Trump is overly concerned with getting reelected, Bolton laments, because of course politicians never, ever ever make policy based on desired political outcomes. “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” babe-in-the-woods Bolton confesses.
In an extended excerpt published in the Wall Street Journal, Bolton attempts to resuscitate the Russian collusion scheme but replace Moscow with Beijing. Trump—who has been far tougher on China than has Bolton, Trump’s predecessors, or Bolton’s neoconservative think-tank benefactors—often debated with a small group of White House advisors on how best to handle a complicated trade war and negotiate the best deal for Americans. This approach, Bolton says, “made my head hurt.”
No wonder Bolton was easily duped by sketchy intelligence about chemical weapons in Iraq: Spare the details and pass the Excedrin.
“Trump commingled the personal and the national not just on trade questions but across the whole field of national security,” wrote the co-collaborator of not one but two short-term politically advantageous wars for George W. Bush. Trump’s attempt to force China to buy more American soybeans was a diabolical political calculation way outside the boundaries of presidential protocol, Bolton sneered—”a pattern of fundamentally unacceptable behavior that eroded the very legitimacy of the presidency.”
But Bolton’s most outlandish claim, one that has been picked up unquestioned by the media, is that Trump gave Chinese President Xi Jinping the green light to build more concentration camps to detain Uighur Muslims. That dinner convo in 2019, according to Bolton, went something like this:
Xi: I desire to build many more concentration camps in Xinjiang
Drumpf: (Eating soup with fingers) That is a tremendous idea. It might be the greatest idea I have ever heard, probably better than any idea I have ever had in the history of ideas except for all of my tremendous ideas.
Xi: Then you approve of my plan to build many concentration camps in Xinjiang?
Drumpf: (Belches and picks teeth) This is exactly the right thing to do.
The media went berserk over that tidbit.
“Trump privately told China’s tyrant that he should keep building concentration camps for Uighurs,” Bloomberg’s Eli Lake tweeted Wednesday. “That is an obscenity. He deserves to lose every state in November.” The concentration camp comment proves that Trump, the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake concluded, doesn’t care about human rights.
There is a slight problem with Bolton’s account; it was based not on firsthand knowledge from the “room where it happened,” but rather an alleged disclosure from an unidentified interpreter present at the meeting. (Only Trump, Xi, and their interpreters were in attendance at the G-20 dinner in Osaka.)
But why allow little details get in the way of the latest Get-Trump crusade? Why give the man a headache when he has Resistance work to do? The liar has been reincarnated as a reluctant truth-teller: Bolton is the star of an “exclusive” interview on ABC News with Martha Raddatz this Sunday night. Nothing like some prime-time love from the Trump haters at one of the Big Three networks to keep Bolton’s political makeover going.
Trump, for his part, and out of an abundance of practice, is calling Bolton’s bluff.
“He was a washed-up guy, I gave him a chance, he couldn’t get Senate confirmed so I gave him a non-Senate confirmed position so I could just put him there and see how he worked,” the president told Sean Hannity on Fox News this week. Bolton, Trump said, broke the law by disclosing classified information without approval. The Justice Department is attempting to stop the book’s scheduled publication next week.
Regardless of the outcome, Bolton already has achieved his goals. He publicly trashed a president who foolishly gave him a shot over the objections of many of the president’s supporters; the media is fawning over him as the latest Resistance hero; and he’s padded his résumé for his next gig.
Old Beltway parasites, after all, never die: They just work at think tanks until they find a new host.