March 27, 2018

John Bolton thinks he can be tough. Can he also be fair?

National Security Council staff usually stumble onto White House grounds every morning around 7, before most of the Beltway has had its first cup of coffee. The gate closing behind them clangs loudly: a Pavlovian noise that cues staffers that they are on duty, another day of managing the best and worst of American foreign policy responsibilities as well they can.

Next month, John Bolton, President Trump’s national-security-adviser-to-be, will start shaping those days.

On the NSC staff, you have only a little power, far short of the smoky rooms and Machiavellian fantasies of “deep state” conspiracy loons. You are among the people who gather from across the government to parse big ideas for the president, and you write the first drafts of national security choices that own real estate in your dreams for years. Often, the best you can offer the president is not what is right but what is fair: a fair representation of the agencies arguing over policy; a fair airing of bad options; a fair accounting of the people who will die without intervention or with it.

Read the full op-ed on the Washington Post.