How John Bolton Broke the National Security Council

He weakened one of the few constraints that kept Trump from running foreign policy by the seat of his pants.

Comments: 199

  1. LOL! When Trump brought John Bolton onboard, the progressive Left lambasted Trump for bringing in a pro-Iraq War neo-con who never met a foreign war he didn't like or propose to such a high level of policy making. Yet, now that Trump fired him because he wants to finally meet a campaign promise of moving away from nation-state building and the usual wars that result, the progressive Left ... you guessed it (maybe) ... lambasts Trump for that, too. Such typical Trump Derangement Syndrome. So typical New York Times.

  2. @JW You just blasted a balanced, thorough, reasonable and well thought-out analysis of a very dangerous situation. I don't think it's worthy of you. You need to realize that it's a complicated world and that it's possible for well-meaning, intelligent, educated and thoughtful people to have mixed feelings about complicated things. The Times is not always right, but you picked the wrong time for a cheap shot. We need to do better than cheap shots, all of us.

  3. @JW Hardly. Both Trump and Bolton are guilty of crimes against America. Both should be in jail. It is a testament to Trump's insanity and incompetence that Bolton looks like the stable guy in the room.

  4. @JW Glad you think this is funny. "...now that Trump fired [Bolton] because he wants to finally meet a campaign promise of moving away from nation-state building and the usual wars that result, the progressive Left ... you guessed it (maybe) ... lambasts Trump for that, too." But when one untangles that string of non sequiturs, one is left with just undisguised contempt for "the progressive Left"... and for the NYT, tacked on for good measure. So, do you qualify for the backdrop seating at Trump's rallies, or do you just buy general admission tickets? BTW, I have not seen any comment here which complains about Bolton being shown the door. Where did you get that from?

  5. Not so sure I agree with the articles assessment. I can't see where Trump listened to anyone anyhow.

  6. Is there nothing this Republican administration cannot destroy? Trump's cabinet is a perfect storm of lobbyists, sycophants, disruptors and imbeciles, which mirrors the personality of their boss.

  7. @wcdevins Oh, the 1% are doing just fine! Because tax "reform"

  8. Trump has never run his foreign policy by the seat of his pants: he simply does his master's bidding and makes whichever decision will benefit Putin.

  9. Looks like Ivanka will finally get a real title in the White House.

  10. @SMFGO Tiffany needs a job.

  11. It is hard to say that Trump is actually saner than the warmonger Bolton. Let us count one of our rare blessings these past three years.

  12. I appreciate a contribution to understanding which takes this mess beyond the usual psychiatric theology. An eradicated Council is not good news, and pundits given to lamentation should give this naked reality its due.

  13. I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting our president run a sidewalk lemonade stand let alone our national security apparatus.

  14. @galtsgultch: If Trump were running a lemonade stand, he would bankrupt it by the late afternoon.

  15. "Eventually, Mr. Trump split with Mr. Bolton and began consulting with outsiders like the Fox News personality Tucker Carlson." Read that a few times and let it sink in. Then dig up those plans for the bomb shelter in the backyard.

  16. Exactly my thoughts.

  17. Not sure if I get your comment. Tucker Carson is not pro-war. It is the total opposite, always pushing for getting the US out of all these interventionists wars. Perhaps you have never watched his program.

  18. @3Rs, pushing to get us out might not be much better than pushing to get us into an interventionist war. As we have found in the past, if we withdraw without a plan we will just have to deal with it later. I believe in diplomacy and that takes a long time to take effect. Unfortunately, Trump isn't the right person to work diplomatically. He has no knowledge of the world of diplomacy and how it works. He thinks the president does it all and doesn't recognize the diplomatic process that has to enfold before the president takes an active role.

  19. Is it not typical for a Republican administration to short-circuit the NSC? Certainly George W. Bush and VP Cheney did. And there is Iran-Contra etc. under Reagan. How is it different this time?

  20. @Chase Does that make blasting the NSA out of the water several times during this administration a good thing, then? Does deferring to the counsel of great minds like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, over experienced professionals--even if they are Revoltin' Bolton-- represent a good alternative and a positive path for our country?

  21. @Chase Didn't Kissinger do this when he was NSA for Nixon before becoming Secretary of State?

  22. While today he might be a villain, tomorrow he'll end up saying bad stuff about Trump and then write a book and go on national TV, and you will all change your mind and love him as long as he says bad things against your ultimate enemy.

  23. @Kev Actually, the ultimate book will come from Melania. Think she may have a treasure trove of notes/sticky pads squirreled away in a safe place. Should be able to negotiate a huge publishers advance. Enough to tell Sharpie to agree to changing her son Barrons last name, and to take his pre-nup and chew it slowly.

  24. Yesterday or the day before (I've lost count), in response to one of the numerous alarming stories emanating from the WH chaos, one commentator quoted Kurt Vonnegut to express their feelings: "True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country". I wanted to respond that actually a worse terror is to wake up one morning and discover that the high school class has handed over running the country to the kinder gardeners. God help us all. Kurt Vonnegut

  25. @Margaret I think you meant “kindergarteners”. In any case, I would be comforted to know that my grandkids’ kindergarten was running the country, instead of Trump. Things would be much better.

  26. I get your point, but you clearly missed Vonnegut's. The fact is that I am now almost 60; my HS class is running the country. Do you get it now?

  27. @Steve G Yes, I remember that awful feeling. One day I got old enough to notice that all the cops looked like children.

  28. This is a very chilling article. I would appreciate it if the NYT could give us some detail on the NSC mechanism so we at least can see if the problem is as outlined. If it is then those running for President must address it publicly, with concrete proposals for repair. Our very existence may depend on it.

  29. The allegation that FDR did not listen to advice and made all his decisions independently during WWII is simply not true. In fact, even suggesting a parallel between FDR and Trump, and then stating that the world was not as dependent on the U.S. in the 1940s, undercuts the whole argument. What is the point of this piece? We know that Trump listens to no one; his firing of Bolton was just one more example. Bolton did not dismantle something that already was not functioning.

  30. @Emily Even if that were true, FDR was infinitely more rational and circumspect than Trump.

  31. @Wordsworth from Wadsworth To even use FDR's and trump's names in the same sentence is disgraceful and heretical.

  32. @Emily "The allegation that FDR did not listen to advice and made all his decisions independently during WWII is simply not true." The author elaborated on his assertion. Where is yours?

  33. Be interesting to see which of his favorite bullpens Trump goes to for a replacement - billionaire buddies or sycophantic Republican members (or increasingly ex-members) of the House. Don't expect competence, experience, or independent thought.

  34. @Dave: Perhaps Sean Hannity?

  35. Bill O’Reilly is jobless...I mean available... Trump can’t take a current pundit because then he would not be able to get his spoon-fed opinions from his fake news buddies on TV.

  36. A tightly argued and well-supported thesis. I only wish the euphoria unleashed by Bolton's abrupt and unexpected departure had lasted even just 24 hours!

  37. I suppose the real surprise here is to compare Trump to Roosevelt. While the egos may match, there’s no comparison on the deliverables. Trump is a mere lightweight, no matter how blustery the delivery.

  38. Nope. Sorry. Don't blame Bolton for ANYTHING major. 1. Trump appointed him after burning through two others, one of whom (Flynn) whose objective was to break the NSA in Russia's favorvor. 2. On The Afghan talks, Bolton was correct. On the North Korea talks, Bolton was correct. 3. Trump broke the Iran deal lonnnnnnng before Bolton showed up. 4. Bolton spent most of his tenure in time-out.

  39. @KM Why don't you explains just what it was that Bolton was so correct about? From all descriptions he was always ready to unleash nuclear warfare. Show me I'm wrong.

  40. To allow this administration to become even more emboldened, by providing him with a 2nd term, will make these current seem like only a warm-up exercise. Be sure to get out and vote in 2020...

  41. Be sure to educate other people and encourage those who understand the function of a president to also vote.

  42. So... can the USA ever be repaired? How much more damage can Trump do in the next 1.5 years? We all know the answer - a lot!

  43. Thank you, Mr. Gans, for the freighted, frightening analysis. John Bolton, however problematic his post in the Trump administration was, was never the problem in spite of his past baggage. The problem was--and remains--the unfettered president who is convinced of his own biblical sense of deific omnipotence and his omnipresence. "Mr. Bolton persuaded Mr. Trump he didn’t need the National Security Council to make decisions; it is no surprise that the president eventually felt confident deciding he did not need a national security adviser, either." What I fear most is that Bolton enabled the president's messianic complex. With his foreign policy failures mounting, the president perhaps thought that he didn't need the failures of his national security adviser breathing down his neck, embarrassing him (Afghanistan, e.g.) and so he swung the axe. In historical terms, America has had presidents who were either well-suited or poorly-fitted to the job. Past presidents understood that they had a reckoning with both the voters and with history; those were powerful checks. Donald Trump, by his wobbly and out-of-control presidency, apparently is not constrained with performing the daunting tasks of his office. He also apparently is not very concerned about either an electoral reckoning nor a historical one. That is the chief danger now. Bolton unscrewed the lid off the Pandora's box that is the Trump presidency. And Donald Trump thinks that he can now do whatever he wants.

  44. @Red Sox, ‘04, ‘07, ‘13, ‘18 Point of order. I've always thought that Pandora's box had a hinged lid rather than a screw top.

  45. @Jim Cricket: You’re right. What else can I say?

  46. I can’t imagine that Orwell is smiling...

  47. "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire "... experience assures us, that concentrating all of the powers of government in the same hands is but the definition of despotism.' - Federalist #48

  48. The only real and relevant question to ask is which of the many fine messes out there will finally convince enough voters that enough is enough, this dude had better ride into the sunset. Trump's naivete, faith in the efficacy of his bluster, and style of chaotic careening with unclear goals and no real understanding of the opponent, will not help him one iota at crunch time. As one innocent naif in North Carolina was quoted, she likes trump because he talks like we do. That is the source of his appeal to people who feel the need to identify with and see themselves in their president. At some point, they need to realize that they should also expect some additional qualities of character and intellect in someone with such responsibilities. It is a fault of their education and their socialization, that they don't grasp this basic point. This has led to the current odd waiting period. Waiting for the one very important decision in response to an unpredictable act that will be very very wrong. In that respect this resembles the first half of 1914.

  49. It's too late for Bolton to resign or to be fired. His departure cannot reverse the damage what Trump has done to the Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran, nor can it calm the harsh trade clash between China and US. What is even worse, his resignation now leaves us an unrestrained President shows no hesitation to succumb to Russia, North Korea, and Taliban. The real root of our diplomacy problem is not Bolton nor how he dismantles our national security system. And as Mr. Gans said in the column: "Whether Mr. Trump names a replacement for Mr. Bolton does not matter: No one is going to convince the president he needs a system now". Our real problem is whom sitting in the Ovid Office and tries to destroy our constitution and government system fundamentally.

  50. This story makes clear the daunting task ahead of the next (Democrat) president when s/he takes office. In addition to purging any Trump deep state holdovers, s/he will need to begin the task of reversing executive orders that have had a deleterious effect on our democracy. Most of all, s/he will need to work diligently to rebuild dismantled political infrastructure and rebuild worldwide trust in American ideals. God speed, President Warren.

  51. @Aristotle Please, "Democratic." Let us not adopt the irrational ungrammaticality of conservative pundits

  52. @Aristotle I believe Elizabeth Warren is capable of rebuilding the government and doing it well. Warren is close to many people who can offer her sage advice in this matter, including President Obama - who first urged her to run for the Senate, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and other former Secretaries of State and Senators who will have institutional knowledge of what needs to be rebuilt and repaired. I can't believe I'm even writing this. It makes me want to cry.

  53. So much damage has been done to our country; including our national security. Are there no patriotic republicans in congress willing to put our country above their party and their personal power? Their cowardice and depravity is unforgivable and yes, deplorable.

  54. This would be among the most serious issues of the day if the article explained it better. I understand Bolton met less, and that policy was not coordinated and formulated. But exactly how was the entire national security coordination mechanism disassembled? Assuming that the next national security advisor is perfect, what does s/he have to do to get back to normal? How long will it take? Exactly what structural changes were imposed? Otherwise, this article is just saying that Bolton didn't meet as often, and that's old news.

  55. @we Tp The article points out that Bolton also shut out other members of the NSC, attempting to make himself the lone gatekeeper of national security policy. It wasn't just a lack of meetings --the meetings weren't happening because Bolton didn't want to hear or assess conflicting viewpoints and information. He wanted to be the Lone Ranger of national security policy. Could the next national security advisor re-create the collegial NSC process? Maybe. But only if the 4th national security advisor in 2 1/2 years is a person of sufficient stature and self-confidence to do it. The odds seem to be against it; we're into the 4th string. And even if that happened, it is clear Trump won't tolerate hearing what he doesn't want to hear whether it comes from an individual or a group.

  56. "Seat of the pants" assumes that Trump has intuition or experience. He has neither. What he has is an opinion which is ill informed and influenced heavily by the person who serves him his daily dose of French fries and sugary beverages or by the even more poorly informed commentators at Fox News. It goes without saying that John Bolton's hiring was a mistake. To the extent that Bolton decimated the system, well... good for the system. The system gave us Trump, so he is giving back to it now. A system that allows a broken thing to be installed, will in time become undone itself. C'est la vie !

  57. You burn down the house, you get ashes. Every time.

  58. As a kid, I was taught the slow rise, and rapid fall, of Republics. I did the arithmetic back then, half a century ago, and it brought me to, oh, about now. Wise up, America. Begin staving off historic inevitability, can the clown. Begin now. Impeach. Indict. November 2020 is too late.

  59. Trump running foreign policy with his uninformed, impulsive, vindictive and addled brain --- untethered to anyone --- is frightening, absolutely frightening.

  60. I don't like Trump and I think he has spat on the dignity of some of the most honorable people in this country, by attacking the intelligence agencies. However, John Bolton is a complete lunatic and all worlds, including one's beyond this planet are safer and can rest easier now that he is out of the White House. I think most Democrats and Republicans can agree that it isn't good to have someone who's a proud warmonger around someone as impressionable and easily manipulated as our current president. Even if Bolton's reasons for leaving were honorable (he called Trump Jr. a tool or something), he is still a danger to everyone everywhere and the world is a better place with him not anywhere near a person of significant power.

  61. For a man who spends the greater part of his days watching FOX and other news channels, tweeting insults at people, golfing, eating Big Boys, how does he find time to think about foreign policy? For that matter, since he doesn’t read and doesn’t pay attention to the voices of his aides, how does he even learn about foreign policy? From Tucker Carlson? From Sean Hannity? OMG. Who is coaching him on devious ways to steal money from Defense for his Wall? Tucker? Hannity? Who’s coaching him about all his other sly moves? Or does he dream up all this stuff while he’s trying to sink a putt? I’ll bet they coached him on Dorian and Alabama. OMG again. Yes, let’s impeach him now and be very sure to vote in 2020!

  62. @ASW Trump likes Big Boys? Or Big Macs? If it's Bob's Big Boys, I finally found one thing I agree with Trump!!!! John

  63. Good news! John Bolton is out!. Adding John Bolton in his cabinet was one of the biggest mistakes our president did since his inauguration but firing him is the best decision our president did, no question about that. John Bolton launched all the bad policies that were rejected before he took over as the National Security Advisor. This man was pushing for military intervention across the world, he had a war agenda. I was worried about a war with Iran. I can sleep better now since this war mongerer is fired.

  64. Any damage John Bolton did to the United States still can’t compare with the devastation he proudly helped unleash in Iraq.

  65. I'm less nervous about Americans finding themselves involved in (new) foreign wars and occupations with Trump all by his lonesome than I was with President Bush and a more effective version of Bolton, Dick Cheney.

  66. Trump's use of executive powers is a clear abuse of power. DRT (Don't Re-elect Trump)

  67. With his outrageous, obsessive, infantile, and chaotic way of attempting to govern our country, I really do think at some point, Trump will experience a great fall, a grave error that he won’t recover from. Seeing all this, his administration, his followers, his cult-like persona, and his playing the TV role from The Apprentice - the frequent firing of his administration/staff (this time it’s Bolton, who will be next?) - it’s not hard to see it all going up in flames at some point.

  68. All of the clown/monsters that have entered government thru the Trump portal have "broke" various parts of the people's government. This is what the Koch bros. and Grover Norquist and Ronald Reagan and Lee Atwater and Rove and the rest have delivered onto us. This is their collective dream of unregulated capitalism combined lobbyist influenced government combined with a 10th century leaning Supreme Court come home to fruition. The only hope is an equally focused and energized voter out pouring intent on destroying their dream and their power.

  69. Let's just be thankful Bolton is gone! This is great news and should be the subject of joyous headlines. It's an early Christmas present to the world. Bolton's new Fox program - "A Bolt From the Walrus" will premier around Election Day, I am sure.

  70. Let's back up and take a broad view several years down the road after Trump wins reelection. Trump directs all foreign policy decisions with the help of Tucker Carlson. Trump also maintains a vacuum of inactivity on Climate Change reform. He also pursues his "easy to win" trade wars with China and Europe (yes he said tariffs should be initiated.) Now consider several multi-trillion dollar disasters caused by hurricanes, unstoppable wildfires, and droughts and floods in agricultural areas. Then pile on top of that a few trillion dollars more of shooting war with China -- caused by irrational trade wars-- and with Iran and a Taliban/Isis consortium. Maybe in frustration he'll fire off several nukes. Do we think Donald Trump is prepared to deal with any of that? Right now he appears to be pushing policies that will make that all come true. But his vision hasn't gotten past the gilt tapestries, gold fixtures in the bathroom, and the size of cheering crowds at his rallies. If any small fraction of that horror vision might be correct, it should terrify every voter. Please, Please, Please, vote in 2020 for some sort of rational government that can see past the next quarter's profits of the corporation.

  71. @DGP Not to mention, the fact he would not face re-election, so he can do what he wants without care. That's a nightmare scenario for the United States.

  72. @DGP No, just wait for the 2 1/2 months after he loses the election. See how destructive he can be when he knows he's on the way out.

  73. Breaking of the Federal Government was what their 2016 Presidential Campaign was all about. So, I guess they've succeeded in one sense. But I am surprised to think that the NSA was what kept us at war with Cuba and Iran for the last 60 years or so. So, who has been responsible for that?

  74. @Steve The big money. Pepsi and the Bush family et. al. want their sugar plantations back, the Mob wants its casinos back, and BigOil wants Iran back. It's simple. As always, follow the money.

  75. @Steve And the organizational chart goes: the big money owns the CFR, the CFR owns the NSA, the NSA "guides" the President (who's also owned by the big money). Usually.

  76. @Rocky - Thank you for that input and education. We've got to break the backs of those people, Pepsi, the Bush Family, etc., Bushies and Trumpsters.

  77. What a relief! when I heard Bolton was stepping down I had the worst thought - but now that the split was not ammicable, I don't have to worry about a Bolton Secretary of State, when Pompeo leaves to run for the Senate.

  78. @Paul Ain’t gonna happen. Pompeo is holding out for VP. And he will get his wish, when Trump resigns. Pompeo was the representative for MY district. He is very smart and exceedingly ambitious. Beware.

  79. This is the silliest NYT oped I’ve read in some time. “... in just 17 months Mr. Bolton effectively destroyed the National Security Council system”. There is no National Security System under Trump. Imagine, thinking that anyone serving Trump could break anything, as if the entire executive branch wasn’t a shambles. The author is arguing nonsense. Bolton is an irrational extremist, for sure. But he’s working for Trump. Nuff said.

  80. Pancho has been punished and now Delusional Donald Quixote can swing his wicked tweets at will against those who don't agree with his demented viewpoints.

  81. So now it's just Trump and Tucker Carlson?

  82. I have to believe the next administration will fix this. Yes, there will be a next administration, and hopefully less than 2 years away. An experienced President, Vice President, and new National Security Adviser can certainly put the house back together. In the meantime, the insane ride continues.

  83. Are there other readers who miss the days when the worst scandal of the day was Obama wearing a brown suit? Those were the days.

  84. I do not miss the days where the media was so gaga with Obama that fails to objectively report and inform the public on important issues. Everything was great. The Arab Spring was praised by the media, and it was the dismantling of the status quo in the Middle East, resulting in failed states (Libya), the creation of ISIS, the collapse of the Egyptian economy, the refugee crisis in Europe, the expansion of Russia and Iran influence in the Middle East, the assassination of an US ambassador (because of a movie?), and all the media experts failed the American public in denouncing these amateurish foreign policy actions that resulted on massive human suffering. Another amateur move in letting the pressure off Russia (and Obama got Nobel Peace prize for it) that eventually enabled the Russian invasion of Crimea. We spied on Angela Merkel (bugged her cell phone), threw Netanyahu and Israel (an ally) under the bus all the time. Insulted half of Americans with “cling to their guns and bible”, and finally, Obama publicly mocked Trump during a White House Press Dinner event possibly pushing hyper-competitive, never a loser Trump to run for president just to get even. And the media reports were about his brown suit and baggy jeans. If the media would have treated the Obama administration with the same scrutiny as they are treating this administration, you would have a completely different opinion of the Obama administration. Such is the power of the media.

  85. @3Rs, I'm sorry, but any mistakes Obama made pale in comparison to our present occupant of the White House.

  86. “ Broke the National Security Council.” Guess what ??? I don’t care. Bolton was, and Is, an unrepentant War hawk. He WAS the second most dangerous person in D.C.. I’m very happy today. Next ?????

  87. All I can say is I hope Rupert does the nation a solid and raises the quality of FOXNews dangles. O'Reilly, Hannity and Carlson are laughable as presidential advisers. But then, look at the advisee...

  88. "the breaking of the federal government is the most consequential crisis of all." Alas, this concluding sentence doesn't alarm me anymore. The state-of-the-nation is _much_ worse than is being typically admitted, esp in MSM.

  89. John Bolton has bolted out after a golden opportunity to serve the country as the NSA. He was clearly a hard linner and advocated the regime change in Iran. He reminds me of Al Haig. He thought he was the president or the next in command of the president. He was certainly full of himself and most like got under the skin of the president. Bye bye Bolton. You can write a book and make rounds on TV. As Comey has shown. Life after the white house is not all that bad.

  90. Trump will appoint Jared or Ivanka or both. Problem solved.

  91. If incompetence sinks staff--look to leader--starts at the top

  92. Thinking past the term of this president, it's the "disassembly," the "dismantling," and the "unshackling" that will stand as its destabilizing legacy. In the vision of this president (but really in the vision of such "controllers" as Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and other hard ideologues), the dismantling has been one of the top priorities. Bringing "disruptive change" to the environment of the Deep State, and to the essential structures and processes of stable governance, have always been in view. To the extent that every government, and every president, "sculpt" and alter these structures and processes, this isn't anything new. But certainly the Trump administration, following the direction of such as Bannon, and using the experience of such as Bolton, has been far more disruptive, and gone far deeper, than other administrations. If Trump is reelected, he will benefit from the procedural chaos his handlers have already accomplished. If the Democrats succeed in winning back the White House, their president will face one of the most extensive "reconstruction" agendas ever to confront an incoming executive. Mr. Bolton? Mr. Bannon? Thank you for your service.

  93. Damage done Thank you Republicans

  94. You elect a clown, you get a circus.

  95. Shoulda hired Michael Bolton.

  96. Tucker Carlson? OMG, that is frightening. Trump is truly incompetent and dangerous. He thinks by shrinking Gov he won't have to deal with anyone skilled or experienced and then he makes it up as he goes along. Remember what Tillerson said about working with Trump. Trump's ideas were illegal and he's a moron. Trump doesn't respect anyone who's smarter or has more experience than he does in Gov. He doesn't want smart experienced people around him. He prefers those frauds who work at Fox who pander to him because he's so desperate for attention. Trump out of his depth and increasingly insecure. Nov 2020 seems too far away. Our Gov is being crippled piece by piece from this megalomaniac who seems to excel at bankruptcies, botched businesses, and broken marriages.

  97. The only NSC head who championed the causes of a foreign cult, the murky MKO, openly taking money to speak at their meetings. Good riddance.

  98. This is an uninformative article. Despite its title, the only information it provides about how Mr. Bolton destroyed the National Security Council is "To realize that plan, Mr. Bolton included fewer people in meetings, made council sessions far less regular, and raced to always be by Mr. Trump’s side". Clearly, any future National Security advisor (of President Trump or a future President) could easily reverse this way of doing business. If a future President decides that the National security apparatus is important, he/she will make use of it. NSC may be broken now, but could easily be reconstructed and made useful.

  99. You failed to get the essence of the article. Even if we get a different leader,the world's intelligence agencies are not going to trust the USA. We elected an idiot once, we can elect an idiot again.

  100. Exactly what capacity to govern remains in the Executive Branch? FDRs assumption of control was perhaps dangerous; but know-nothing, make a mockery --of it, Trump?? It's terrifying.

  101. Adios Bolton. I guess it is back to the doobie brothers. Oh wait, that was Michael Bolton. Oh well, back to Fox News.

  102. 1 down and many to go...including the Big Kahuna. Vote Blue in 2020!!!!

  103. It took bolton 30 years to get his hair and mustache to agree on color

  104. While the op-ed places some blame on Trump, putting the emphasis on Bolton is misplaced. If you bring dynamite and a wrecking ball to a construction site instead of elevators and cranes, your goal is to destroy what is in place instead of building. Trump has alienated so many people with his insanity and unstable personality that qualified people will not volunteer to be part of history that will be shameful. The only assets Trump can bring to the table are tools of destruction - thus the likes of Bolton. While I was no fan of Reagan, he at least chose George Schultz as a secretary of state. Schultz was well qualified, competent and understood the need for continuity in foreign policy. I don’t know why today’s Republicans who used to worship Reagan don’t insist that Trump seek the competence that Reagan sought in appointees.

  105. One less disgusting manipulative killer in the govt. Now who will fire the Moron in chief?

  106. When President Roosevelt juggled, he tried to keep the balls aloft, balanced and catchable. When Trump juggles, he's just throwing balls in the air and the clowns that surround him sweep up after him.

  107. Hopefully we can now get back to the drone strikes and covert operations that made Obama's foreign policy so effective.

  108. @Tad R. At least Obama wasn't on lapdog terms with the former head of the KGB. Or love letter terms with North Korea, with no stategic advantage for the USA.

  109. @Sidito Yep, at least there's that. At the very least, there's that.

  110. "Driven by confidence in his own ideas..." is quite an understatement. Arrogance — and a disdain for most of humanity — is more like it. Good riddance.

  111. Hmm, this sounds familiar. Remember Rex Tillerson and the hollowing out of the State Department. Was this really all about Bolton or more likely all about "Only I can fix it!" Donald Trump?

  112. Will the Senators finally act? Are they confident that Trump and Tucker Carlson will be able to protect the US from the stratagems of former head of the KGB Putin and leader of the 'unfree world' Xi Jinping? And navigate the complex sectarian fissures of the Muslim world as well?

  113. @EE - What you are describing sounds like the premise for a good BBC comedy starring Rowan Atkinson as Tucker Carlson.

  114. Just shows how close the end of this worldwide system really is as the US/UK world power will be fully functional at the end.

  115. For the ongoing disaster that is the current administration, I can only be grateful that Trump tired of Bolton. The alternative would have been wars on multiple fronts.

  116. Mr. Bolton brought his disgraceful ejection upon himself and by himself. He should have known better not to get associated with Trump in the first place. He deserves the ouster he got.

  117. A detailed and devastating piece on how John Bolton destroyed America's National Security Council. For those of us who always believed Bolton, as a far-right wing authoritarian, would damage or destroy America's national security system, most chilling is that "Trump split with Mr. Bolton and began consulting with outsiders like the Fox News personality Tucker Carlson." What could possibly go wrong now that the NSC, like the Intelligence Community, is in tatters, and Trump and Tucker Carlson are creating America's foreign policy? As much as people hold Trump responsible because of how similar his rhetoric and philosophy are to the El Paso killer, it's important to remember where Trump gets his talking points: Fox News. For everything else horrible and post-factual Tucker Carlson says, he recently insisted white supremacy in America is a hoax perpetuated by Democrats and the rest of the media. A striking statement considering the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and how many recent massacres, like those committed in El Paso and Pittsburgh, were perpetuated by white supremacists. Anyone watching Fox's evening lineup hears language similar to the El Paso shooter's online screed, yet only Carlson spouted a specific ideological mix perfectly reflecting the killer. That Trump and Carlson are now making American foreign policy without a national security system is even more terrifying than Trump and Bolton doing it after Bolton effectively dismantled the NSC.

  118. Robert's idea of "reconstruction" does not sound so bad given the chaos that has been endured for the last couple of years!

  119. What could possibly go wrong.., ? Well, for openers, Trump is no Franklin Roosevelt. And, since Bolton hates everybody and thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room... He apparently didn’t know or acknowledge Trump ie the cruel and stable genius.

  120. I say, from now on, it has to be the cleverest 1-liner. Otherwise, as Pelosi has said, it's just not worth the effort.

  121. Nothing shocks me anymore.

  122. John Bolton, and Trump, both draft dodgers. Both of these wimps envisioned themselves as glorious warriors. They were none of this. They are nothing more than armchair generals and bullies who are ready and willing to put real warriors in harms way to feed their egos. I am glad he is gone and can't wait until Trump goes.

  123. Now Bolton can go back to trying to restore the Pahlavi dynasty. That will at least put groceries on the table.

  124. Keep in mind that during Trump’s reign of error we have not experienced a single crisis that Trump did not himself initiate, much less a crises that seriously threatened national security. On this eve of the anniversary of 9/11, we know what can happen. We also know Trump’s luck won’t last forever. When that kuck runs out, run for cover.

  125. “Reign of Error” is perfect. You need to sell T-shirt’s and bumper stickers. I’ll take one of each.

  126. It's hard to decide what's worse: Mr. Bolton's self-appointed mission to change national security mechanics or Mr. Trump and his staff's failure to notice or understand. That's aside from any ideological positions either took. Among the many differences between FDR and Mr. Trump; a vast gulf between their experiences in government. The former served as undersecretary of the Navy; in the NY state assembly; as governor of New York; and as president for eight years before WWII. It still didn't mean it was a good idea for him to 'juggle', just that he knew the stakes and machinery better than Mr. Trump. That the GOP doesn't mind the terrifying prospect of letting Mr. Trump keep his first nuclear strike authority for any time at all, let alone another five years, is insane.

  127. @Grennan "Among the many differences between FDR and Mr. Trump; a vast gulf between their experiences in government. The former served as undersecretary of the Navy; in the NY state assembly; as governor of New York; and as president for eight years before WWII." FDR's conduct of World War II was guided by a steady collection of civilian and military advisors: Admirals William Leahy & Ernest King; Generals "Hap" Arnold & George Marshall; cabinet secretaries Robert Morgenthau Henry, Stimson, Cordell Hull & Frank Knox. They, in turn, delegated to competent subordinates (e.g., future Nobel laureat Milton Friedman, who implemented income-tax-withholding). I'm not sure it's entirely fair to say that FDR "juggled" and "improvised" — and I don't think he was so arrogantly certain of his own brilliance as Trump. Indeed, it was the experience of World War II that led to the formation of the modern-day Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Security Council structures (and the post-war international systems of NATO, the UN, IMF, World Bank, the EU, etc.). People like Trump, Bannon, BoJo & other anarcho-capitalists want to burn it all to the ground because they're carrying water for plutocrats & oligarchs. They, along with overt neo-fascists like LePen & Orban, cozy to authoritarian dictators. In the US, the slogan ought to be "Make America 1929 Again."

  128. @A. Reader The aftermath of WII produced all those systems that have done a pretty good job of making and keeping most of Europe prosperous and peaceful. But the U.S. security apparatus has an unstated issue/problem that's been growing in the decades since we instituted the all-volunteer armed forces. Civilian control of the military, one of the foundations of our country, gets harder and harder--even with the best intentions--with the development and reliance upon a professional military class. Gen. Petraeus was, in this view, dangerously close to being the official policy setter about Afghanistan and Iraq. Each administration since has put civilian suits on generals for roles in which their military experience is both a plus and minus. The minus is they don't have the civilian background and fewer and fewer of the civilians in charge have military experience. And then came Mr. Trump...

  129. Bolton's ultra-hawkish views have been well known for years. So how did he end up in the Trump regime? If Trump is now claiming that he didn't like Bolton's ideas, why was he chosen in the first place? I'll offer a totally speculative answer: many of Trump's appointees were handed to him by outsiders wanting to control the Administration's national and global policies. Just like his Supreme Court appointees, who were selected by a privately funded, deeply conservative judicial/political entity, it is entirely possible that Bolton was pushed on Trump by the likes of Netanyahu and Sheldon Adelson who wanted to not just isolate Iran, but destroy it. This may be wrong, or partially so. But given Trump's obvious disdain for information, statecraft, or governance, he is especially vulnerable to suggestions whispered in his ear by much savvier political operatives. It's plausible, especially given the fact that Trump has fallen hook, line and sinker for Vladimir Putin. For a self-proclaimed business genius, Trump can be incredibly naive.

  130. The best description I've seen of him was "Kissinger without the charm." It's worth noting for all the president's faults, so far he has a better foreign policy record than Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon with Vietnam or Bush Jr. with Iraq.

  131. Putin must be well pleased with his puppet as Trump dismantles our national security, alienates our allies,cowers before Putin, romances Kim and shills for Putin on the world stage. Trump is ignorant of history and knows nothing about foreign diplomacy ,attacks our intel agencies and sides with Putin over our Intel agencies. Trump is leaving America with a huge deficit ,a trade war and subservient to Putin and our national weather at the mercy of Trump's sharpie .

  132. @REBCO If only he WERE LEAVING!

  133. @REBCO Are we really sure that Trump is not an agent of Putin? A Russian plant couldn't do more damage to our government than what Trump has done and continues to do.

  134. All warmongering government officials who try to instigate wars with other countries — including those who are itching for conflict with China — should be investigated for financial ties to the defense industry and lobbyists. When Trump and Kim had their first peace talks, defense stocks plummeted. There is a financial incentive for some individuals in power to keep the conflicts going.

  135. I find it therapeutic to laugh at Trump's whining over Bolton's bad advice. Guess who appointed Bolton to the national security post in the first place. Here we have another example of Trump's incompetence -- not just Bolton's.

  136. @Steve Schroeder Beat me to it. And there goes the boast about hiring "all the best people." And then, "You're fired!"

  137. “Who knew that national security would be so complicated?”

  138. @LumpyNational security, like trade wars, is easy.

  139. Trump needs a full time special needs medical team, more than a national security adviser. The relentless chaos, churning of high level staff, dismissal of fact based news reports, picking fights rather than settling disputes, demonising of groups to suit his political agenda, is just normal service being resumed. Even the removal of Bolton is being used by Trump, to revive his days from the Apprentice, where he could say, ‘Your fired.’ This is not what good government looks like On one level, the removal of Bolton, may lower the probability of a US attack on Iran, but on another level, which competent, qualified national security expert, would want to work in the current White House?

  140. @Barry of Nambucca Ted Nugent packing his bags, ready to serve. Bringing extra underwear.

  141. @Barry of Nambucca Please see the work of www.dangerouscase.org -- a group of top behavioral health professionals who have plenty of ideas about what to do.

  142. Lol x 3

  143. If by some horrible, impossible series of events I awoke tomorrow morning and found some men in suits at my bedroom door who informed me that I was now President and no, I could not refuse the assignment--if that happened I would immediately begin to search for help: men and women with knowledge, experience, wisdom, and the guts to tell me the truth no matter how unpleasant. They would all know far more than me about their areas of expertise and I would be grateful for that. This would in no way qualify me to be President, but it would at least give a foundation upon which to build. Unfortunately, when the current President discovered he had been chosen by the electoral college, he mostly chose advisors in his own image. And the few who did have experience and knowledge found that they only irritated the Supreme Commander who had no interest in what they knew. Over time he replaced them, each time with someone of lower quality. I would say he's scraping the bottom of the barrel but in fact he's now choosing apples that fell out of the barrel last year. Not that it matters when the advisors either agree or depart. We're in big trouble folks.

  144. The author states: "Mr. Bolton’s most lasting legacy will be dismantling the structure that has kept American foreign policy from collapsing into chaos, and finally unshackling an irregular commander-in-chief." Let's not forget the documented fact that Bolton withheld accurate intelligence information from both Colin Powell and George W. Bush because it would have stymied Bolton's efforts to march us to war with Iraq. Greg Thielmann, the State Department's senior intelligence analyst nailed the analysis - rightly concluding that there were no weapons of mass destruction as claimed by Bolton and his cronies. Bolton intercepted it and kept it from Sec State and POTUS. Bad on us if we let that part of Bolton's legacy be forgotten. He should be in jail for life over that event. Let's never forget the damage done by Bolton now, or then.

  145. @Joel "Greg Thielmann, the State Department's senior intelligence analyst nailed the analysis - rightly concluding that there were no weapons of mass destruction as claimed by Bolton and his cronies." But anybody who was paying attention knew that. Remember that Hans Blix and his UN team of experts who were searching for WMDs were working in Iraq 4 full months before Bush invaded. The monitoring team arrived in Iraq in November 2002. And Blix reported well before Bush's invasion that the team had access to all of Iraq, no holds barred. And they found nothing. Nothing. All any US citizen needed to do was to listen to Blix, who was clearly right. Blix's reports were in every newspaper - so we all had a chance to stop the catastrophic war.

  146. @Sam D All true. However, it is worth noting that Blix was not an intelligence analyst within our own State Department. Normally Thielmann's report would have gone straight to Powell. Bolton insinuated himself into that pipeline. And he made sure that Thielmann's key analysis was never seen by Powell or Bush. Knowing this matters.

  147. @Joel Luckily, Trump has much better instincts than GWB did, not that you'll see any credit given in these pages for the fact that we're not currently at war with Iran.

  148. Today, Washington is more dependent on the presidency, and the world is more dependent on Washington’s decisions,..... the breaking of the federal government is the most consequential crisis of all. Mr. Gans last paragraph is more frightening than any I've read since Trump took office. If I'm reading it correctly, the safeguards of our Democracy are being dismantled one piece at a time, and to the point where there may be only one branch of the government, the Executive. The Legislative and Judicial will only be there in name only. This is tragic, no one or body of government willing or able to stop the destruction of our Constitution.

  149. @cherrylog754 "It couldn't happen here" Well, it is happening! Let's see who the incompetent in chief appoints to replace Bolton. Can't be worse? Time will tell.

  150. @cherrylog754 "the destruction of our Constitution." Because Trump fired an acknowledged incompetent?

  151. @Mike Edwards Perhaps you should read @cherrylog754’s letter again. I believe it was more along the lines of “the safeguards of our Democracy are being dismantled one piece at a time, and to the point where there may be only one branch of the government, the Executive. The Legislative and Judicial will only be there in name only.” The article *is* about Bolton’s dismantling of the NSC, one of those safeguards being described.

  152. This is why this country needs a level-headed commander in chief. A person with experience dealing with foreign affairs and who realizes that alliances made over the decades cannot be discarded. A person who realizes that the United States of America is a central part of keeping order at home and throughout the world. A person whose values and morals are in sync with what this country should be synonymous with. Not a person who mocks and insults other leaders and countries and members of his own political system. We need a president who can attempt to reach across the table and have members of our political parties work in unison to bring our country together and to try to repair the damage to our reputation abroad. Shame on the political establishment who allowed this to happen unquestioned.

  153. @MM No name mentioned here...But it sounds like the kind of experienced, level headed leader that we desperately need...is someone like our former Vice President.

  154. @MM Shame on us all.

  155. @MM There is a significant internal contradiction in your final two sentences: "We need a president who can attempt to reach across the table and have members of our political parties work in unison to bring our country together and to try to repair the damage to our reputation abroad. Shame on the political establishment who allowed this to happen unquestioned." The political establishment that has allowed this to come to pass are the same people you would have your strikingly moderate next president reach out to. Nope. They deserve more than shame - they are entirely culpable for the ongoing disaster and have been obstructionist since 2009. Not only is reaching out to their 'better nature' futile, it would be morally wrong.

  156. "in just 17 months Mr. Bolton effectively destroyed the National Security Council system, the intricate structure that governed American foreign policy since the end of World War II." A burn-it-all-down segment of the electorate thinks it funny to vote for a burn-it-all-down president, who in turn appoints one burn-it-all-down official after another. From our wounded democracy to our very existence on this overheating planet, we may well not recover from the sheer banality this reality TV administration. I am sorry for future generations who digs through the headlines of today. I'm with you, folks. What on earth have we come to? What in the world have we done?

  157. @C. Whiting And what can we do?

  158. @Luv the beach The 46% who didn't vote in 2016 could....vote?

  159. @Ick of the East Why do you think their votes would have mattered?

  160. Bolton is no loss. But that's not the story. We'll be keeping our eyes on the paranoid impulsive bully now calling the shots, the stable genius making all the decisions on his own. God help us all.

  161. This is no government. This is obviously a mob boss's move; it is an intended national destruction of the USA. They can't give away the public trust to their cronies fast enough, nor can they make their sickening deals with despots fast enough (at bankrupting costs born by US taxpayers' and the lives of US soldiers). Bolton was just another snake in the pit. There are nothing but snakes down there.

  162. @WR But the base loves him. Just this morning the Times reports on a sensible sounding Republican woman who voted in the North Carolina election for a Republican because the economy is doing well. When will they wake up? I suppose when the house starts falling down around them. It is already on fire.

  163. Tucker Carlson became the de facto National Security Advisor? Trump broke the National Security Council--not Bolton. Remember when Steve Bannon was on it? I am no John Bolton fan, but the Council, and virtually every other responsible arm of government that has to deal with Trump, is being denigrated by Trump since he took office. Trump is an unhinged malignant narcissist who operates from the deep-seated conviction that there is no "truth" beyond his entitlement to get everything he wants all of the time. Trump broke the National Security Council. Trump is trying to break the weather forecast for goodness sakes! His own lawyer told us, "the truth is not the truth." During a hurricane, Trump is golfing, fighting with a T.V. actress, and gas lighting everyone who knows where Alabama is. No National Security Advisor could protect the National Security Council against the prologue and epilogue of incompetence and narcissism that Donald Trump imposes on the executive branch.

  164. @Ann "Trump is an unhinged malignant narcissist who operates from the deep-seated conviction that there is no "truth" beyond his entitlement to get everything he wants all of the time." That is truth in poetry. Horribly true.

  165. @Ann -- "During a hurricane, Trump is golfing, fighting with a T.V. actress, and gas lighting everyone who knows where Alabama is. " Priceless.

  166. "Eventually, Mr. Trump split with Mr. Bolton and began consulting with outsiders like the Fox News personality Tucker Carlson." Even in the era of Trump, I don't think I've ever had quite so visceral a reaction to anything.

  167. @Pat B Remarkable. And remarkably unsophisticated and unaware. Donald Trump is a legend in his own mind

  168. @Pat B Yup! I nearly spewed coffee all over my computer.

  169. If it is true that Tucker Carlson saved us from starting a war with Iran then may be he is a better for the National Security Advisor position?

  170. There is huge risk when important foreign policies are decided only by one leader of the country. Especially President Trump had not participated in foreign or security matters before he became the president. Many people think he lacks experiences. It is important for White House to have another National Security Council which will prevents his despotism and tragedies for the world.

  171. I doubt very much if the world is more dependent on the decisions of an American president than it was in the 30s and 40s. Hitler, Stalin and Roosevelt alone controlled the fate of the world in those days. Today absent a Russian invasion Western Europe can stand alone. The Middle East is less important and people there are determined to continue to fight to the death over some dusty landscape. Africa and most of South America are in shambles; India and China are built on foundation of sand. The world is not the same as it was then and our interventions it since 1945 excepting the Marshall Plan have not benefited us or the world. We will survive this four year interlude of being ruled by a Mad King and so will the world.

  172. Perhaps now, Yosemite Sam can go back to making cartoons ,where he belongs.

  173. No way to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys in this Trump mis-administration. (Few if any women.) All bad guys.

  174. Bolton is a hawk of frightening audacity. Good riddance. So now we only need be frightened by the fact that Trump has been "consulting with outsiders like the Fox News personality Tucker Carlson." So, will it be another one year or five years of sleepless nights worrying about what foreign policy havoc this President might wreak?

  175. John Bolton is a war criminal. International law makes clear that instigating and waging a war of aggression is a crime against humanity. The only thing that kept him out of the dock is the fact that he acted on behalf of the US, the prevailing party in its several Mid-East wars. But make no mistake, the Iraqi war was a war of aggression, based on lies and manipulations and was extended to Somalia, Syria, Libya and Yemen. The casualties from these wars is estimated between 1,000,000 and 1,800,000 people. Over 5 million have been displaced. Now that Bolton is a 'civilian' he should be indicted by the ICJ.

  176. Once the system put an inexperienced conman into the WH it proved the system has broken. Since then the massive turnovers of senior Administration staff are mere manifestations of a broken government, chaotically run by Trump. Keep counting: Trump will continue to have more senior staff turnovers. He is unstable. Therefore the government is unstable.

  177. I have nothing good to say about Bolton, ever. But I think that this article is unfair to him. Trump broke the National Security Council, and Bolton was just a minor tool used in the process. Had Bolton tried to maintain the structure of the NSC, Trump would not have tolerated it and Bolton would never have lasted 17 months - which is a long time for a Trump appointee in a foreign policy related position.

  178. Another Trump flunky bites the dust. The list gets longer every month. Bolton should never work in public service again.

  179. This column reads like a eulogy for an organ of the Deep State.

  180. John Bolton is a right wing chicken hawk. Maybe he broke the NSA, but under Trump, it would have been broken anyway. This is yet an other anecdote about Trump's unfitness for the Office he holds. He is ignorant, doesn't read anything that doesn't have his picture on every page. Has no patience with nuance, subtilities that abound on the world stage. Doesn't like the "elites", who we call experts, giving him advice that he doesn't understand or care to try to understand. Basically, he has no use for experts.He trusts his gut!!!! So Bolton will be replaced with an other sycophant who will praise the Master, no matter what the issue, no matter what the danger of Trump's gut feelings. Bolton was unqualified. but he had a way hawkish and stupid of way of thinking. But he wasn't let go or fired because of whatever he thought, but because he contradicted the flawed and sick man sitting behind the resolute desk. Trump is his own adviser. Reriod. No contrarian need apply. The times, they are changing, but getting more and more dangerous sa time goes by...

  181. What a disgrace has befallen on these United States...by electing a malevolous 'brutus ignoramus' that, not knowing anything thinks he knows everything, and certainly more than 'the generals', a very dangerous enterprise with no long-term plans, and where no one knows head from tail when this vulgar bully tweets an order.

  182. Before John Bolton escapes to Brazil. Russia or Hungary arrest him and charge him with Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of a crime against peace, Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crimes against peace, War crimes and Crimes against humanity. The court room in Nuremberg is now a museum, but I am sure it could be reactivated.

  183. Always reassuring to know that in punting the ideas of a bad advisor, Trump turns to his trusted source, Tucker Carlson. It's just that much better. Punt Ben Carson at HUD and hire the Property Brothers. Put the Rock in for Pompeo. Elmo is a good fit for Education - he doesn't have a college degree, and as a toddler, can set up play dates at 1600 Penna Ave. Bolton broke the NSC, but it was just another slow death in a long list of federal obituaries. I'd argue that most of them are dangerous losses.

  184. Don’t forget Jeanine Pirro. Gender equity and all....

  185. Tuckert Carlson?!!!! G-d help us

  186. Na na na na. Na na na na. Hey hey, goood bye. Who's next? Pence?

  187. And in any case, Trump can't actually fire him anyway, at least not according to that little thing called the Constitution. Not that that would prevent him trying, of course.

  188. Pence, being one of the few individuals who are even less intelligent than Trump, has safe tenure.

  189. Does Tucker Carlson have a security clearance?

  190. How long before Tucker Carlson (National Security) and Sean Hannity (Domestic Affairs) are at each other's throats?

  191. @Art ha

  192. @Art It can't be too soon.

  193. Lol

  194. Does anyone else see martial law being imposed within the next 16~18 months?

  195. Gans is critical of Franklin Roosevelt’s ‘juggling’ in WWII without the benefit of advice from a National Security Adviser, but when one compares the results of FDR’s efforts sans such adviser with the results to our nation of the advice of McGeorge Bundy to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and that of Condoleezza Rice to George W. Bush, one wonders if the respective debacles of Vietnam and the invasion of Iraq, with resultant continuing carnage in the Middle East, justify such enthrallment with and confidence in such a position.

  196. Bolton's not ruined. Bolton ruined the rest of us.

  197. Good Lord! The thought that President Trump molts the skin of John Bolton and replaces it with the epidermis of Tucker Carlson should terrify us all. Is the president therefore a terrorist? Will he start wearing a bow tie?

  198. Maybe Michael Flynn is available (again)?