Juan Williams: Trump's nest of hawks

Juan Williams: Trump's nest of hawks

Is President TrumpDonald John Trump2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate Senate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again 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.”

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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 Pompeo2 US service members killed in Afghanistan after Pompeo visit The Hill's Morning Report - Democratic debates: Miami nice or spice? State Department need not be at odds with itself on Republic of Cyprus policy 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 Clinton'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again Don't expect Trump-sized ratings for Democratic debates Ocasio-Cortez on Biden: 'I think that he's not a pragmatic choice' 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 MarkeyHillicon Valley: Investigation finds federal agencies failed to address cyber vulnerabilities | Officials crack down on illegal robocallers | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Senators grill Google exec on 'persuasive technology' YouTube critics urge FTC to crack down on handling of children's videos Senate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions 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 MattisNew Defense chief: Our 'priorities remain unchanged' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions Trump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions 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.