I have been waiting my entire politically conscious life for this moment—for this mass murderous Muppet to meet his comeuppance in front of the entire nation. John Bolton has dedicated his life to making the planet a far more dangerous place, and from the moment I awoke politically in opposition to the Iraq War as a teenager, he became one of the pre-eminent boogeymen haunting my political nightmares. Sure, lots of folks on the right talk about the end of the world, but few have risen into positions high enough to potentially bring it about. If you told 16 year-old me that Bolton was disowned and humiliated in front of the entire country by our president, I would ask you whose re-election campaign I should make my check out to.
Alas, we live in hell.
After a lifetime spent pursuing evil in the Reaganesue shadows, Bolton entered the public’s consciousness while working under George W. Bush’s secretary of state, and he said the May 2002 decision to pull the United States out of the International Criminal Court was the “happiest moment” of his government career. Bolton also railroaded a 2001 attempt to endorse a U.N. proposal to enforce the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, and in 2005, he spearheaded the removal of José Bustani, the head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The U.N. condemned it as an “unacceptable violation” of a civil servant’s protections, and according to Bustani, Bolton told him he must step down in 24 hours, and “we know where your kids are.”
Bolton also reduced funding for a program dedicated to halting the spread of nuclear materials, and in 2002, a week before Jimmy Carter was to become the first U.S. President to meet Fidel Castro since the revolution in Cuba, Bolton spread some nuclear-grade bullshit, and falsely asserted in a speech that “The United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort. Cuba has provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states.” Bolton was one of the architects of the Iraq War (and he wanted to expand the “axis of evil” it was part of to countries like Cuba and Syria), and Bolton still defended the bloody calamity in 2015. Also in 2015, he wrote a New York Times column titled “To Stop Iran, We Must Bomb Iran”.
John Bolton has one setting, and that setting is war. It should come to no surprise to those familiar with Bolton’s type that while he cheered on the Vietnam War in college, when it came time for him to fight, he decided that Forever War was not an idea worth dying over.
As Trump’s national security adviser (one of the most powerful advisor jobs one can attain), Bolton continued his mission to saturate every crevice of the planet with war, and even led a failed coup attempt in Venezuela during his short time in Trump’s ear. With John Bolton present, it was clear that when it came to war with Iran, Trump was the adult in the room by contrast. John Bolton’s entire career in power proves that he is a bloodthirsty psychopath, and getting him away from the most powerful weapons on Earth is the best thing Donald Trump has done or will do as president.
So farewell, John Bolton. A nation will sleep sounder knowing your grimy hands are nowhere near the nuclear controls—or nuclear funding, for that matter. You are a man so obviously odious that even a swamp-thing like Trump must expel you from his presence. While the focus here so far has been on your lifetime of work on behalf of state-sanctioned mass-murder, every report hyperlinked above details how at a very basic human level—from Moscow to Geneva to Tehran to Washington D.C.—no one likes you. People’s lives improve immeasurably the moment you simply leave the room. You just made Donald freaking Trump look smart by simply being as terrible as he says you are.
This president, who just yesterday claimed that his supporters were drenched in rain on a sunny day—and whose brain is very clearly seeping out of every orifice as his staff spends their days maintaining a Rube Goldberg-style machine to pour it back in to his brain cavity while he watches Jeanine Pirro in the executive residence and brags to the poor Secret Service guy about how desperately she wanted to go home with him at a Hamptons party back in 1994—still had the sense to acknowledge that he made a mistake, and rid himself of an adviser who spends most of his waking hours fantasizing about bombing brown people (sadly, Stephen Miller still has a job cranking one of the wheels in Trump’s brain that keeps him sentient).
John Bolton is such an unpleasant human that this seeming policy and character overlap with a white supremacist president was not enough to overcome the fact that it’s damn-near impossible to find someone who will vouch for Bolton on the record as a pleasant person, despite decades of life spent in and around government. The subtext of John Bolton’s career of failed diplomacy is that no one wants to even occupy the same space as him, let alone subject their sanity to his unique brand of lunacy.
While this is a nominal gain for peace given the bounty of evil that still populates our nation’s halls of power, this expulsion from The Situation Room of one of the most ardent believers in the concept of Forever War is an objectively positive event in our darkest timeline. The fact that John Bolton has risen to prominence in two presidential administrations this century proves the rot at the heart of our democracy, and he should be held up as a paragon of how not to conduct yourself in any facet of political life. We are all safer now that one of violence’s most zealous cheerleaders no longer operates near the chain of command.
Well, at least until the next Republican presidency. Given Bolton’s proclivity for failing(?) upwards, he’ll probably be Tom Cotton’s Secretary of Defense in no time.
Jacob Weindling is a writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.