People are freaking out after John Bolton was picked to become Trump’s national security adviser

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton shares a laugh with a Marine veterans in Hilton Head, South Carolina, January 13, 2012.

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Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton shares a laugh with a Marine veterans in Hilton Head, South Carolina, January 13, 2012.
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REUTERS/Jason Reed

  • Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton was named to the role of national security adviser after H.R. McMaster announced his departure on Thursday.
  • Bolton has been known to take a hawkish stance on US foreign policy.
  • Foreign-policy experts and lawmakers voiced concern because of Bolton’s previous statements that they say could hint at future policy shifts in the Trump administration.

The appointment of former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton to national security adviser has ruffled some feathers among many foreign-policy experts.

Bolton was named after the current national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, resigned on Thursday, after weeks of rumors around the White House hinted at McMaster’s imminent departure.

Bolton is viewed by many as a conservative hawk, based in part on some of his public statements on matters of war and diplomacy. He has written opinion columns discussing the merits of preemptively attacking North Korea, and has railed against the US’s strategy on Iran in interviews.

During an interview with Fox News on Thursday, Bolton attempted to distance himself from his previous statements.

“They’re all out there on the public record,” Bolton said of his opinions. “I’ve never been shy about what my views are, but frankly, what I’ve said in private now is behind me at least effective April 9, and the important thing is what the president says and what advice I give him.”

In response to the social-media backlash surrounding his appointment, Bolton said:

“You know, if I believed half of what I saw on Twitter, I’d probably withdraw from the world, which some people would prefer.”

“Look, I have my views, I’m sure I’ll have a chance to articulate them to the president,” he said.

“If the government can’t have a free interchange of ideas among the president’s advisors, then I think the president is not well served.”

But many experts argued that Bolton’s hawkish tendencies, mixed with the gaping holes in some crucial, but unfilled, positions at the US State Department, puts the country at a disadvantage as the proposed summit meeting between North Korea and the US draws near.

“Another step backwards for an administration already going full throttle in reverse,” Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts said on Twitter. “If you’re worried about our national security today, you should be more concerned about it tomorrow.”

“John Bolton strongly supported every war the US has fought, believes there should be no limits how US fights it’s wars, and strongly supports starting new regime change wars with Iran and nuclear-armed N. Korea,” Foreign Policy columnist Micah Zenko said on Twitter. “Terrifying.”

“This is pretty much a national security emergency,” Kingston Reif, director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association, tweeted. “A reckless and dangerous choice.”

Bolton, however, received some praise from conservative personalities and lawmakers.

“I know John Bolton well and believe he is an excellent choice who will do a great job as National Security Advisor,” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said in a statement.

“Amb John Bolton will be great National Security Adviser for @realDonaldTrump,” Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York said on Twitter. “Ridiculously knowledgeable. Leaks from NSC will end.”

“Obama holdovers will be gone & team, chemistry & work product will all get ramped up,” Zeldin continued. “Very underrated, amazing American. Extraordinarily talented pick.”

“I also congratulate Ambassador John Bolton for his appointment as the next National Security Advisor,” Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said on Twitter. “He’s an excellent choice to take the baton from General McMaster.”