So John Bolton is considering a vanity run at the White House. What if he wins? Imagine, for a moment, that it is May 2013. President Bolton has been in office for 100 days. What would a John Bolton agenda look like?
1) War With Iran. Bolton has been an outspoken advocate for an American or Israeli air strike on Iran. Nearly everyone of his op-eds since 2008 has touched on the subject. Of course, he never says we should go to war with Iran. But really, that is what bombing another country means. And in this case, the country in question is likely to retaliate by striking at American interests in the neighborhood.
2) Not quite war with North Korea, but closer to it. To Bolton, even meeting with Kim Jong Il is an intolerable concession. There is no policy option but a get tough approach for North Korea. Of course, last time that approach was taken — from 2002 to 2006–North Korea’s nuclear capabilities expanded significantly. Still, negotiating with Pyongyang is like negotiating with terrorists, so we will have none of that!
3) And don’t expect America’s allies to come to its rescue. It would be hard to imagine that America’s traditional allies in Europe would come to America’s defense under President Bolton. He has, shall we say, a particular knack for getting under the skin of our closest allies. His time at the UN was unique for the fact that he could reliably alienate America’s closest allies on with his zero-sum view of international relations. Any concessions to American allies like the U.K., for example, was treated as a loss to the United States.
4) UN? Meh. Bolton would likely not withdraw from the United Nations, he would just neuter it by refusing to pay American dues. Bolton’s preferred method of financing the UN is through voluntary contributions–pay for what you want. So goodbye to most peacekeeping missions, translators at the Security Council and all that.