Two things are true while seemingly being contradictory. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton is a patriotic American who wants to preserve the lives of our troops and citizens. He is also a neoconservative hawk who wants to put our men in harm’s way. How can these two things be?
The neoconservative wing of the Republican Party believes the best way to ensure the safety of our troops, our interests, and the interests of our allies is through strength. If that means taking out the enemy before they take us out, so be it. Bolton has been calling for preemptive strikes against Iran for over a decade. He has also opposed every proposed withdrawal of troops, including President Trump’s desire to remove troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
Call me an isolationist, but I’m not one who enjoys having troops permanently stationed anywhere other than established bases within allied territories. It’s not that I disagree with Bolton’s desire to keep troops abroad, but those troops should not be stationed within hostile territory unless there are immediate battles to be fought. Occupations, police actions, and sheer presence for the sake of preventing others from inserting themselves are not proper uses of our armed forces, in my humble opinion, because they put our men and women at risk without a clear enemy to defend against.
For this reason, I think it’s great news that Bolton left.
Bolton’s removal comes after the hawkish adviser was reportedly sidelined from high-level discussions about military involvement in Afghanistan, after opposing diplomatic efforts in the region.
“Simply put, many of Bolton’s policy priorities did not align with POTUS,” a White House official told Fox News on Tuesday.
While Trump announced a 4,000-troop increase in 2017 as part of an effort to break the stalemate in the country, he has been moving toward agreeing to a phased withdrawal of troops. Some 14,000 U.S. troops have remained in Afghanistan, advising and assisting Afghan forces and conducting counterterrorism operations.
But there’s a flip side to this argument, especially as it pertains to President Trump. Bolton offered a voice of reason that understood the implications of drawing down troops from various hotspots. Like I said, I’m not in favor of keeping troops where they don’t belong, but I’m also not in favor of removing troops prematurely. That was Bolton’s primary sticking point with the President. If Bolton wanted to keep troops out there too long, President Trump wanted to bring them home before it was time. The combination of the two perspectives made for good foreign policy decisions, which we saw after the President Tweeted last year that he’d be withdrawing immediately from Syria at the request of Turkey. It would have been a poor move, and his advisers slowed him down enough for preparations to be made properly.
This is why the White House needed John Bolton, Jim Mattis, or someone who will keep the President from making military mistakes on a whim. I didn’t have to agree with Bolton’s or Mattis’s policy ideas completely to appreciate their voice in the President’s ear. He wants things done, but his expert advisers are there to tell them when his desires do not align with our interests.
Overall, I think it’s a sad day for the White House and the nation to see John Bolton leave even if I don’t believe in his neoconservative perspectives. We need people in the President’s ear who will tell him the truth. There are plenty of yes-men there already.
We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.
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