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John Bolton has talked about bombing North Korea, Iran and Syria

President Trump announced March 22 that former ambassador John Bolton would replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser. (Video: The Washington Post)

President Trump's incoming national security adviser, John Bolton, is known for hawkish views. If you are wondering whether the reputation is fair, don't rely on what others say about the former ambassador to the United Nations; just look at what he has said about various foreign-policy matters on Fox News and elsewhere.

North Korea

Sept. 23, 2017, on Fox News: Asked whether the United States should shoot down North Korean test missiles, Bolton replied: “Yes, I think that's at a minimum. But the real question is whether there's a remaining nonmilitary option.”

Dec. 28 on Fox News: “My proposal would be: Eliminate the regime by reunifying the peninsula under South Korean control,” Bolton said. Asked whether he is calling for regime change, he said: “Yes. Regime elimination with the Chinese. This is something we need to do with them.”

March 7 on Fox News: Bolton said chances are “pretty remote of a diplomatic solution with North Korea,” adding that “the two choices, both bad, are you accept North Korea with nuclear weapons or use military force.”

March 10 on Fox News: “I think nobody wants to see military force used here. But we don't have very many options after 25 years of talking have failed.”


March 25, 2015, in a New York Times op-ed: “The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.”

Jan. 14 on Fox News: “The alternative policy is regime change in Iran. ... You go to the Europeans, you go to others — our Arab friends in the Middle East, Israel — and say, 'This is happening. You know it as well as we do there's no fix to this [nuclear] deal. Now let's figure out how to try and get the band back together and move forward.' ”


March 7 on Fox News: Asked whether the United States is moving “toward a conflict with Iran and Russia in Syria,” Bolton replied, “I think that's one possibility.”

March 12 on Fox News: Asked whether he thinks the United States and France are “readying more airstrikes,” Bolton said that  “it may come to that ... and it would be justified, in my view, as the president's first airstrike was.”


March 7 on Fox News: “I think the overthrow of Saddam Hussein — that military action was a resounding success. I think the mistakes that were made subsequently, setting up the Coalition Provisional Authority and others that followed from it, are lessons about what to do after a regime is overthrown.”


Dec. 12, 2016, on Fox News: Discussing cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee, Bolton said, “The reason I've raised the possibility of a false-flag operation — that it was people planting evidence to point their finger at Russia — is there may be somebody else with stakes here. And, if I could just say, I have not believed — and have never said — it was the Obama administration that did that.” Bolton has since concluded that Russia did commit some kind of election interference.

Oct. 30, 2017, on Fox Business: “I do believe that the Russians tried to interfere in the campaign. They have been doing it for 70 years or more. So I am not embarrassed or ashamed at wanting to find out what the truth is there.”

Feb. 13 on Fox News: Asked whether Russia already is trying to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections, Bolton said, “Sure. I don't doubt it. ... The effort is to sow distrust about American institutions. And if you look at our past year's debate over Russia collusion, the role of the FBI, they're doing a pretty good job.”

March 1 on Fox News: “Is it a week before the Russian election? Sure. Does Vladimir Putin have the slightest doubt who's going to win that? He knows how to fix elections when he wants to.”

Discussing Putin's claim that Russia is developing new nuclear weapons that could overcome U.S. missile defenses, Bolton said: “I think this is a further effort to see whether the Trump administration will push back. And I think it needs to. I think there needs to be a strategic response to this, to help give confidence to our friends in Europe and around the world, that we're not going to put up with this kind of Russian effort. I don't think it's a new Cold War, but I do think it's Vladimir Putin trying to reassert Russian predominance in Eastern Europe — Eastern and Central Europe — in the space of the former Soviet Union.”

Special counsel's Russia investigation

Oct. 30, 2017, on Fox Business: “I have been appalled at the concept of independent counsel. ... These are extra-constitutional offices, they are not restrained, nobody is supervising them for fear of being accused of political interference. They can do anything they want. That, in itself, is an abuse of justice, whether the target is Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.”

Dec. 14, 2017, on Fox News: “I think the entire concept of independent counsel is so fundamentally flawed that you inherently have the investigation turning into exactly what this has turned into. I think Deputy Attorney General [Rod J.] Rosenstein, however, is the one who is not doing his job. ... Seemingly unable to look at these examples of bias by Peter Strzok and many, many others and connect them to what's happening in the investigation. So, when you combine that with the fundamentally unconstitutional nature of an unrestrained independent counsel, I think we are seeing the destruction of the reputation of the Justice Department and the FBI.”