John R. Bolton

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John R. Bolton (2018)

John Robert Bolton (born November 20, 1948 in Baltimore , Maryland ) is an American politician and diplomat . From April 9, 2018 until his resignation on September 10, 2019, he was National Security Advisor to US President Donald Trump .

Bolton is considered one of the architects of the 2003 Iraq War and was the US Ambassador to the United Nations from August 2005 to December 2006 . Bolton has been described as a neoconservative , although he himself rejected this characterization.

Family, education and work

Bolton was born in Baltimore to Virginia Clara "Ginny" (née Godfrey), a housewife, and Edward Jackson "Jack" Bolton, a firefighter . He grew up in the Yale Heights workers' community and qualified for the McDonogh School in Owings Mills , Maryland, where he graduated in 1966. He got involved in the campaign of right-wing politician Barry Goldwater in his 1964 presidential election campaign .

Bolton graduated from Yale University . There he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1970 and a Juris Doctor degree in 1974 with summa cum laude . Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham were his fellow students. During this time he enlisted in the Maryland Army National Guard , evading service for his country in the Vietnam War . He later wrote that he had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice field. In his memoir, Surrender Is Not an Option , he later commented that he did not want to die conquering a country that would later be returned by Ted Kennedy .

From 1983 to 1985, Bolton was an associate at Covington & Burling in Washington , a law firm for which he worked again from 1993 to 1999. He was also a partner in the law firm Lerner, Reed, Bolton & McManus .

Political and administrative career

Under Reagan and George Bush 1981-1993

During the tenures of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush , Bolton initially worked for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) (1981-1983) and then as Assistant Attorney General for the US Department of Justice (1985-1989) and as Undersecretary for International Organizations ( Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs ) at the US State Department (1989–1993). He also served as chairman of a Republican resolution committee . Prior to joining the Bush administration , Bolton was a neo-conservative senior vice president of public policy research at the American Enterprise Institute . Between 1997 and 2000, Bolton volunteered in a personal embassy of Kofi Annan in Western Sahara .

Under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006

On 11 May 2001 Bolton was as Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security ( Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs sworn). In this capacity he was a member of the delegation of the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear program in 2003 . He was dismissed from this delegation after calling Kim Jong-il the "tyrannical dictator" of a country where "life is a hell of a nightmare" for many. A North Korean spokesman replied: "Such human dregs ( scum ) and bloodsuckers are unsuitable for participating in these discussions."

On March 7, 2005, George W. Bush proposed him as a UN ambassador. On May 12, 2005, the US Senate failed to confirm Bolton, despite a 55-45 Republican majority, because his candidacy was rejected by the Democratic minority and even conservative senators sometimes harshly criticized Bolton. Among other things, he was accused of having put pressure on the CIA to write reports that he liked. In addition, 60 retired US diplomats wrote to the senators against Bolton's nomination. To blockade, the Democrats in the Senate used the tactical voting maneuver of a filibuster , in which applications for the end of the debate were blocked so that Bolton's candidacy could not be voted on for formal reasons. Motions to break the filibuster received 57 and 54 of the 60 necessary votes, respectively. According to observers, if there had been an actual vote, Bolton would have won it, as 51 votes would have been enough.

On August 1, 2005, Bolton was appointed UN ambassador by decree without confirmation from the Senate, because the US Constitution allows the president to fill positions directly during the breaks (" Recess Appointment "). The validity of this appointment expired at the end of the legislative term of the Congress . This was the first time a US ambassador to the UN was used in this way.

On December 4, 2006, the White House announced that Bolton had decided not to serve as Ambassador to the United Nations after the end of the legislature. This was presumably due to the congressional elections , in which the Democrats won a majority in both houses. The Democrats had always spoken out against Bolton as UN ambassador and would presumably not have supported any further candidacy. Alejandro Daniel Wolff took over the post on January 1, 2007 , then officially Zalmay Khalilzad . Bolton's administration was considered aggressive and controversial after he had emerged as a sharp critic of the UN for years; he was particularly committed to the interests of the State of Israel.

In conversation for further offices

In 2011, Republican politician Newt Gingrich announced he would make Bolton Secretary of State if he were to become US President in the 2012 election . After Donald Trump's election as president in 2016 , whose candidacy was previously supported by Bolton, a former protégé of former US Secretary of State James Baker , Bolton was once again considered a favorite for the office.

Chairman of the Gatestone Institute think tank

From 2013 to 2018, Bolton was chairman of the right-wing and anti-Muslim think tank Gatestone Institute . The institute drew criticism for spreading false information and untruths virally.

National Security Advisor under Trump

On March 22, 2018 US President gave Donald Trump that Bolton from 9 April in the wake of known HR McMaster as national security adviser in his government will occur. The Times of Israel saw his nomination as a sign that the Trump administration was heading for a tough line on the side of Israel before the upcoming talks on the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs . On the question of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election campaign , however, Bolton - unlike his predecessor in office - expressed doubts about the involvement of official Russian agencies. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung ruled that Bolton's “rigid nationalism” was a perfect match for Trump's America First policy .

In July 2018, Defense Minister Mattis Bolton wrote to urge him to coordinate better with his ministerial colleagues, namely on the current US policy towards Syria , Russia and North Korea. Bolton had not arranged the usual ministerial-level talks to prepare for or follow up on Trump's meetings with Kim Jong-un and Putin , which serve to provide strategic coordination, information and advice to the President.

On September 10, 2019, President Trump asked Bolton to resign. He did not agree with Trump on essential security and foreign policy issues. Shortly afterwards, Bolton submitted his resignation, which he said he had offered to the President the previous evening. President Trump announced a week later that he would appoint Robert C. O'Brien as the new security advisor.

Time after leaving the Trump administration

Beginning in 2020 Bolton announced that he would in the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump before the US Senate to Ukraine affair testify when the Senate him by threat of punishment will ask to testify.

In June 2020, the US administration under Donald Trump tried to prevent the publication of John Bolton's book The Room Where It Happened , in which he reported on his experiences as a security advisor during Donald Trump's presidency . The book characterizes Trump as incompetent and corrupt. However, a court in Washington rejected an injunction. The government had not adequately demonstrated that a publication ban could still “prevent irreparable damage”, since the book was already in print and international distribution, with sales planned to start three days later.


Bolton is seen as a supporter of an aggressive foreign policy that uses military options (“falcon” instead of “dove”). Bolton replied to his critics that his actions "show clear support for effective multilateral diplomacy ". As a member of the Project for the New American Century , Bolton co-signed an appeal to President Bill Clinton , who in 1998 was urged to overthrow Saddam Hussein through the use of diplomatic, political, and military means. The signatories of the appeal also took the view that “American policy must not allow itself to be further crippled by a misguided compulsion to consensus in the United Nations Security Council ”. In 2000 he said in a radio interview: "If I had to reorganize the Security Council today, it would have exactly one permanent member, because that corresponds to the actual balance of power in the world."

Bolton has repeatedly criticized the United Nations . In 1994 he said in a forum of the Federalist Society : “There is actually no such thing as a 'United Nations'. There is an international community that can only be led by the only remaining superpower, the United States. ”He also said,“ The United Nations building (in New York) has 38 floors, but if it were to lose ten it would That makes no difference either. ”He is also considered a sharp critic of the UN Human Rights Council , whose establishment he described in June 2006, according to press reports, as“ a made-up caterpillar instead of a butterfly ”. Thomas Assheuer commented at the end of 2005 that Bolton gave the impression that he wanted to incapacitate the UN "into a specialist company for post-military aftercare, a Mother Teresa in the hegemon's field hospital ".

Bolton campaigned for the right to allow private individuals worldwide to carry firearms. In his book he justifies this view with the interest of the USA in being able to equip “freedom groups” worldwide. As the UN ambassador, he vehemently opposed agreements on the control of small arms.

At the 2007 British Conservative Party conference , Bolton said of Iran : “The US once had the ability to covertly orchestrate the overthrow of governments. I wish we could have this again. ”In the nuclear deal with Iran of July 14, 2015, Bolton sees a threat to world peace as it does not effectively prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. Bolton repeatedly called for military action against the Iranian nuclear program. At the end of November 2016, Bolton warned President Obama, who was still in office, against recognizing Palestine as a state during the transition phase.


  • Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad. Threshold Editions, New York / London / Toronto / Sydney 2007, ISBN 978-1-4165-5285-7 . (Preview).
  • The room where it all happened: notes from the former White House security adviser. The New Berlin, Berlin 2020, ISBN 978-3-360-01371-2 . (Original: The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir. Simon & Schuster, New York 2020, ISBN 978-1-982148-03-4 .)

Web links

Commons : John R. Bolton  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. David Ramm, Bolton, John R. In: Current Biography Yearbook , 2006.
  2. ^ Jacob Heilbrun: They Knew They Were Right. Random House, 2008, p. 266.
  3. Jay Nordlinger: A book and a half, & c. ( Memento of January 12, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) In: National Review , January 12, 2015.
  4. ^ John Bolton, Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad , Threshold, 2007.
  5. Ross Goldberg and Sam Kahn: Bolton's conservative ideology has roots in Yale experience. In: Yale Daily News , April 28, 2005.
  6. ^ The Diane Rehm Show - One of her guests is always you. . In: The Diane Rehm Show . Archived from the original on January 8, 2016. Retrieved January 12, 2015 .. See Brian Urquhart : One Angry Man. In: New York Review of Books , March 6, 2008, pp. 12-15.
  7. N. Korea bans US official. In: United Press International , August 3, 2003; Matthew Haag: 3 Examples of John Bolton's Longtime Hard-Line Views. In: The New York Times , March 22, 2018.
  8. ^ Lily Rothman, Why John Bolton Couldn't Get Confirmed as US Ambassador to the United Nations. In: Time , March 23, 2018.
  9. Charles Babington, Jim VandeHei: Democrats Block Vote On Bolton. In: Washington Post , Sheryl Gay Stolberg: Democrats Block a Vote on Bolton for the Second Time. In: The New York Times , June 21, 2005.
  10. Tom Barry: Israel's Man at the UN. In: Counterpunch , July 27, 2006.
  11. ^ The Washington Times.
  12. ^ John Bolton for Secretary of State., November 12, 2016, accessed November 15, 2016 .
  13. Tim Marcin: Who Is John Bolton? Donald Trump's Possible Secretary Of States Wants To Bomb Iran., November 14, 2016, accessed November 15, 2016 .
  14. ^ Carol Matlack: Debunking the Myth of Muslim-Only Zones in Major European Cities. In: , Jan. 14, 2015; Brennan Weiss: Trump's new national security adviser chairs a group that has spread false claims about Muslim refugees in Europe. In: Business Insider , March 23, 2018; Heidi Przybyla: John Bolton chaired anti-Muslim think tank. In: NBC News , April 23, 2018.
  15. Mark Landler, Maggie Haberman: Trump Chooses Bolton for 3rd Security Adviser as Shake-Up Continues. In: The New York Times , March 22, 2018.
  16. Eric Cortellessa: Bringing in Bolton, White House appears to stiffen against Palestinians, Iran. In: The Times of Israel , March 23, 2018.
  17. Cory Bennett: Bolton, McMaster present contrast on Russian hacking. In: Politico , March 23, 2018.
  18. Peter Winkler: Who is John Bolton? A portrait. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung , March 23, 2018.
  19. ^ Nahal Toosi, Bryan Bender, Eliana Johnson: Cabinet chiefs feel shut out of Bolton's 'efficient' policy process. In: Politico , July 25, 2018.
  20. Quint Forgey: Trump ousts John Bolton as national security adviser. In: Politico , September 10, 2019.
  21. Roland Nelles: What is behind the departure of John Bolton. In: Spiegel Online , September 11, 2019
  22. ^ [1] Donald Trump, Twitter from September 18, 2019
  23. January 6, 2020: Trump's ex-advisor Bolton ready to testify
  24. DER SPIEGEL: Trump's government sues against disclosure book by ex-advisor - DER SPIEGEL - Politik. Retrieved June 18, 2020 .
  25. ^ Tagesschau: John Bolton can publish a book. Retrieved June 20, 2020 .
  26. Portrait: John R. Bolton. In: Deutsche Welle , March 8, 2005.
  27. Thomas Assheuer: When is a war justified? In: Die Zeit , December 29, 2005.
  28. Arte-Doku: Arms trade, a bomb shop.
  29. Bolton advertises attack on Iran at Tories. In: Der Standard , October 6, 2007.
  30. Interview on Deutschlandfunk September 17, 2015.
  31. ^ Andreas Zumach : The Next War. In: , September 6, 2019.
  32. Mallory Shelbourne: Bolton warns Obama on Israel action at UN. In: The Hill , November 20, 2016.