Juan Williams: Trump's nest of hawks

Juan Williams: Trump's nest of hawks

Is President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE more likely to start a war now that John Bolton is his national security advisor?

Bolton strongly supported the U.S. going to war in Iraq in 2003 when he was a State Department official in President George W. Bush's administration.

His militaristic viewpoint led him to write recently that a Trump administration first strike against North Korea would be “perfectly legitimate.”


Bolton also opposes a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.


And as a longstanding opponent of the six-nation deal to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons, he is open to a first strike against Iran, too.

Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS-Iran tensions rise: Five things to know about oil tanker attack US-Iran tensions rise: Five things to know about oil tanker attack The US must do its part in closing the largest outdoor prison in the world MORE, Trump’s nominee for secretary of State, is also an opponent of the Iran deal. Both skate over the fact that there is no compelling evidence that Iran has violated the terms of the pact. It is up for recertification next month.

With Bolton and Pompeo as his top foreign policy advisors, Trump has created “the most radically aggressive foreign policy team around the American president in modern memory,” according to a New York Times news analysis.

Bolton’s appointment comes at a time when the president has no strategy for dealing with global conflicts.

He recently announced — with no explanation — sudden plans to exit Syria “very soon.” Trump, who has tripled the U.S. presence in Syria, made that declaration the same day his own Pentagon explained that keeping troops in Syria was necessary to preserve the gains in the fight against ISIS.  

Last week, Trump tried to paper over the differences with his military advisors by saying he is open to keeping a short-term residual force there.

That confusing policy came after his dramatic announcement of a meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Again, the president has no strategy for those talks.

But North Korea will surely be watching to see if the U.S. goes back on its word in the Iran deal as Trump attempts to negotiate an end to North Korea’s nuclear program.

That won’t upset Bolton. His position is that the only right purpose for Trump’s meeting with the North Korean is to deliver a face-to-face threat of military action.

And then there is Trump’s flip-flop decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, a war now entering its 17th year.

Trump called the U.S. involvement there a “complete waste” during his campaign for the White House.

“Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back? Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!” Trump once tweeted.

Now he is sending more troops with the promise that they will train and advise Afghan troops fighting Taliban forces.

This incoherence across the map from a president with no foreign policy experience has left the American public with little trust in Trump as a world leader.

A CNN/ORC poll taken late last month found that 53 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Trump is handling foreign affairs.

The public also disagrees with Bolton’s steadfast defense of the U.S. war in Iraq. A Pew poll taken last month to mark the 15th anniversary of the start of the war asked Americans if they thought the U.S. “mostly succeeded” or “mostly failed” in “achieving its goals in Iraq.” A majority — 53 percent — said the U.S. mostly failed.

The most memorable speech of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHouse Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally House Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally It's about the delegates, stupid MORE’s 2016 presidential campaign was a blistering attack on Trump’s chaotic, militaristic instincts on foreign policy.  

“Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different — they are dangerously incoherent,” Clinton warned in a San Diego speech. “They’re not really ideas, just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.”

Trump has now proven her right. He has shown time and time again that he makes impulsive decisions based on the loudest voice in the room.

Now that voice belongs to John Bolton, his third national security advisor in just 14 months.

Bolton’s record is so tainted that a Republican majority in the Senate refused to confirm him as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Bush gave him a recess appointment but his sharp criticism of the U.N. and his disdain for international law, led to conflicts with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Personnel is policy in any White House. This is especially true when the president cannot explain to the American people what he is doing.

By appointing Bolton, Trump is embracing a hawk best known for shutting out other points of view while advancing isolationist polices that increase the likelihood of confrontation and war.

“Bolton played a key role in politicizing the [intelligence] that misled us into the Iraq War — We cannot let this extreme war hawk blunder us into another terrible conflict,” Sen. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDemocratic White House hopefuls push to expand health care in US territories Democratic White House hopefuls push to expand health care in US territories Hillicon Valley: Democratic state AGs sue to block T-Mobile-Sprint merger | House kicks off tech antitrust probe | Maine law shakes up privacy debate | Senators ask McConnell to bring net neutrality to a vote MORE (D-Mass.) recently tweeted.

The New York Times editorial page put it bluntly: “There are few people more likely than Mr. Bolton is to lead the country into war.”

“I’ve heard that you’re actually the devil incarnate and I wanted to meet you”

That’s how Secretary of Defense James MattisJames Norman MattisTop nuclear official quietly left Pentagon in April Top nuclear official quietly left Pentagon in April Overnight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One MORE greeted Bolton at the Pentagon late last month.

It was a joke, I think.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.