Ex-Trump adviser says former president ‘hasn’t got the brains’ for dictatorship

<span>John Bolton in Washington DC on 8 July 2019.</span><span>Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP</span>
John Bolton in Washington DC on 8 July 2019.Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP
A former national security adviser in the Donald Trump White House has said that the ex-president “hasn’t got the brains” to helm a dictatorship, despite his admiration for such rulers.

In an interview with the conservative French outlet Le Figaro, John Bolton, 75, was asked whether the former president had tendencies that mirror dictators like the ones he has previously praised. Bolton not only disparaged Trump’s intellectual capacity, he also disparaged his professional background, exclaiming: “He’s a property developer, for God’s sake!”

Now a vocal critic of Trump, Bolton served as Trump’s national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019. Bolton had previously served as US ambassador to the UN during George W Bush’s presidency, developing a reputation as a foreign policy hawk.

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Bolton’s remarks to Le Figaro suggesting Trump is not smart enough to be a dictator will almost certainly do little to allay fears on the political left at home or abroad about a second Trump presidency.

After all, Trump has suggested he plans to be a dictator, if only for the first day of his presidency, if he were re-elected.

Meanwhile, as he seeks a second term in the White House, the incumbent Joe Biden has warned that Trump – the lone remaining contender for the Republican nomination – and his allies are “determined to destroy American democracy”. Trump recently provided fuel for that argument by hosting Hungary’s autocratic prime minister Viktor Orbán at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Trump, furthermore, is known to have lavished praise on leaders considered opposed to US democratic ideals and foreign policy interests, including North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and China’s Xi Jinping.

Bolton nonetheless claimed Trump – who is grappling with more than 80 pending criminal charges as well as multimillion-dollar civil penalties – lacks the kind of coherent political philosophy effective dictators require. He also said Trump does not like to “get involved in policy analysis or decision-making in the way we normally use those terms”.

For Trump, Bolton added: “Everything is episodic, anecdotal, transactional. And everything is contingent on the question of how this will benefit Donald Trump.”

Such disparagements from Bolton – who advocated for the Trump White House to withdraw from a deal with Iran aimed at dissuading it from developing nuclear weapons – are not new. In a new foreword to his account of his work for Trump’s presidency, The Room Where It Happened, Bolton warns that Trump was limited to worrying about punishing his personal enemies and appeasing US adversaries Russia and China.

“Trump is unfit to be president,” Bolton writes. And though he may not think Trump can foster a dictatorship, Bolton has warned: “If his first four years were bad, a second four will be worse.”

Trump has seemingly leaned into such predictions. He stoked alarm at a campaign rally earlier in March when – while musing about how foreign car production affects the US auto industry – he said: “If I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the whole – that’s going to be the least of it. It’s going to be a bloodbath for the country.”

His use of the word “bloodbath” recalled provocative language Trump has used previously, including describing immigrants as “poisoning the blood of our country”.

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He told a rally in New Hampshire last year that he wanted to “root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections”.

After that remark, Biden attacked Trump for his use of the world “vermin”, saying Trump’s language “echoes language you heard in Nazi Germany” as Adolf Hitler rose to power and orchestrated the murders of 6 million Jewish people during the Holocaust.

In his interview with Le Figaro, Bolton said it was “very likely” that Trump would act on his threat to pull the US out of the Nato military alliance if he were re-elected. In recent months, Trump has repeated his threat not to protect countries who he believes do not pay enough to maintain the security alliance, and he claimed that European members of the alliance “laugh at the stupidity” of the US.

“Trump, when he has an idea, comes back to it again and again, then gets distracted, forgets, but eventually comes back to it and acts on it,” Bolton warned. “That’s why leaving Nato is a real possibility. A lot of people think it’s just a negotiating tool, but I don’t think so.”


Source: The Guardian