I like saying, “You’re fired,” to people who aren’t on board with my views and I’m probably going to say that to my national security advisor, H.R. McMaster. He’s still an active general but no way does he understand war the way I do. And I also think John Bolton knows a lot more about combat and strategic matters than any military man. We’re going to talk today in my Oval Office.
“John, thanks for coming,” I say, shaking his hand. “Please have a seat.”
“Thank you, Mr. President,” Bolton says through his droopy gray mustache. “I’ve been here many times, you know. I was President George W. Bush’s most aggressive policy maker in the Middle East, and I directly advised Vice President Dick Cheney.”
I step behind my executive desk and before sitting say, “That’s why you’re here.”
“Have you read my seminal 2017 essay: ‘How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal’?”
“Not yet, but I see you a lot on Fox News and know you understand we have to do something about the worst deal in history.”
“If the Iranians don’t cooperate, I’d be ready to respond,” Bolton says. “‘Facing Reality on Iran’ is my 2015 blueprint for destroying nuclear facilities and, in general, kicking their asses.”
“Haven’t read that one, either, but I’ve been briefed.”
If I weren’t such a gentleman, I’d tell John Bolton his mustache makes him look like an old walrus. Instead, I say, “I see you supported the war in Vietnam but didn’t fight there. I didn’t have time, either.”
“I wasn’t afraid to fight, Mr. President. I wanted to and would have if the United States had been trying to win. I just didn’t want to go over there in 1970, right after I graduated summa cum laude from Yale, and get killed before guys like Ted Kennedy lost the war.”
I nod and say, “I guess you know I opposed our invasion of Iraq in 2003.”
“That was a brave position, Mr. President, since you were very much in the minority.”
“I’ll always take on a majority.”
“May I be frank?” Bolton asks.
“You made a mistake. I served as undersecretary for arms control and every day ensured the right intelligence moved up the chain of command. Sometimes my subordinates said I was ignoring intelligence that indicated the Iraqis didn’t have weapons of mass destruction. I lectured those people. If they tried to argue, I’d say, ‘Shut the hell up.’ No one was going to prevent me from proving the Iraqis were arming to destroy us.
“I was just as tough a couple of years later as our ambassador to the United Nations, a building I’d like to slice ten floors off of and then eliminate many of the strange nonwhite people from ‘shithole countries’ that want to ruin us. I’m proud I was an undiplomatic diplomat. I shouted at and insulted our enemies, and that includes enemies on my staff. Anyone who crossed me got her door pounded and a severe lecture and if she didn’t open up the next time I’d shove blistering notes under the door.
“I appreciate President Bush getting me the UN job on a temporary basis. But I had to leave the following year because the Senate wouldn’t have confirmed me. I imagine you know all that.”
“No problem, John, we wouldn’t have to worry about a confirmation for this job. I’ve got a tough management style, too. People have to respect the man in charge.”
“You’re the strongest leader we’ve had in my lifetime,” Bolton says. “Thank God, since you’re dealing with North Korea and Iraq.”
“What do you think we should do about Kim Jong Un and his nuclear weapons?”
“We need to launch a preemptive strike. And soon.”
“What about Iran?”
“We need to hit them with a preemptive strike, too, but we have a little more time there. Do you want me to explain how to get out of the Iran nuclear deal and then establish a pretext for war before we clobber them?”
“Not right now, John.”
“You’re probably more focused on North Korea. I’ll explain how we could annihilate them.”
I stand and walk around my executive desk and shake the hand of John Bolton. He thinks like I do, but I’m trying to figure if I want to look at that damn mustache every day.
“Don’t worry, if I have to strike, it won’t be limited. And if I hire you as national security advisor, I’ll study your details in dealing with North Korea and Iran. Just give me a shorter version, please.”
“Of course, Mr. President.”