Friday, March 23, 2018


President Trump just canned H.R. McMaster and asked John Bolton to be his national security adviser. Admirers and critics agree: If you're hiring Bolton, you're increasing the chances that the U.S. will get into a war. But one person actually believes that it's possible for Bolton not to be bellicose, as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports:

Really? A Bolton who won't start wars? Isn't that like a male Trump who won't cheat on his wife?

But Trump really imagines that it's possible. And I think I understand -- Trump believes in governing strategies that are no more than catchphrases, and I'm sure the one he has in mind right now is "peace through strength."

That's what he thinks Bolton stands for -- and what he thinks he stands for, too.

It's the same simpleminded reasoning we hear when Trump talks about drug abuse: He says of drug dealers, "Toughness is the thing that they most fear." Just get tough and you solve all problems -- toughness always reduces threats.

Some people commenting on this appointment are suggesting that it reflects "foreign policy confusion." Doesn't Trump want to avoid international entanglements? Doesn't he want to negotiate with Kim Jong Un?

But Trump thinks "toughness" will prevent entanglements -- if we're "tough" enough, everyone will just be afraid of us and leave us alone and never do anything that upsets us. And as for negotiations, Trump thinks they're supposed to be handled through brute force and intimidation, the way (at least in his own mind) he's conducted all his business dealings, with the result that everything he's done has been a success and no one has ever had him at a disadvantage (except, um, all those banks he's owed money to for the past thirty years after all his bankruptcies).

So, yes, Trump wants peace. And yes, Trump hired John Bolton. To him that's perfectly rational.

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