John Bolton, who served as UN ambassador under President George W. Bush and was tapped Thursday to become Donald Trump's national security adviser, has a long history of tough rhetoric against Iran and the Palestinians.
A vocal critic of the Obama administration, Bolton is strongly opposed to the Iran nuclear deal and is a known opponent of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Like Trump, he supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He has also sounded a tough line on negotiations with North Korea.
"The Middle East peace process has long needed clarity and an injection of reality, and Trump has provided it by making the decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem," Bolton tweeted after Trump announced the landmark decision to recognize Jerusalem.
The statement was only one of many on Israel and other international issues that indicate the policies he may advance in his new role as Trump's key adviser.
"Just as a matter of empirical reality, the two-state solution is dead,” Bolton told Breitbart during the Obama administration's attempt to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Bolton even called for a "three-state solution" in which Gaza would be handed over to Egypt and the West Bank returned to Jordan.
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“As long as Washington’s diplomatic objective is the ‘two-state solution’ — Israel and ‘Palestine’ — the fundamental contradiction between this aspiration and the reality on the ground will ensure it never comes into being," he wrote, claiming that “the only logic underlying the demand for a Palestinian state is the political imperative of Israel’s opponents to weaken and encircle the Jewish state.”
He is also critical of claims Russia intervened in the U.S. presidential election in Trump's favor, even suggesting it was a "false flag operation."
But he has also been critical of Russia, writing that "Washington and its allies do not need more Russian adventurism in Middle East, especially given the Moscow-Tehran-Damascus-Hezbollah axis."
Tough on Iran
“Our goal should be regime change in Iran,” Bolton told Fox at the beginning of this year as anti-government protests swept Iran.
"If the Iranian opposition is prepared to take outside support, the U.S. should provide it to them," he tweeted at the time.
He has also been a strong critic of the nuclear accord with Tehran, writing on Twitter that "the Iran nuclear deal was a strategic mistake in 2015. This deal needs to be abrogated and America must craft a new reality that reflects the actions of the Iranian regime."
Bolton also advocated for Israel to attack Iran to rein in its nuclear ambitions: “Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed,” he wrote in The New York Times in 2015.
With such a reputation as a hawk, Bolton's appointment increases the possibility that Trump will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Bolton's appointment will not require Senate confirmation because the national security adviser is a White House position. In 2005 he failed to win confirmation for his nomination as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Bush had to appoint him as a recess appointment.
Bolton has visited the White House in recent months a number of times, reportedly to offer Trump advice that contradicted that of his official advisers at the time, including the outgoing national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, and the outgoing secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. Trump, however, denied press reports he planned to replace McMaster. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders strongly denied such a report last week.
With the departures of both McMaster and Tillerson, the only senior official in the Trump cabinet supportive of the Iran nuclear deal is Defense Secretary James Mattis, who has said that remaining in the deal, despite its flaws, serves American national security interests.