Reading the Bolton book is a tough slog. although it is amusing to read how he wanted to settle scores including obliquely allowing Rex Tillerson to call Nikki Haley a c***.
If there’s a takeaway so far, it is how badly edited it is, and how absent any consideration of national policy other than pushing his own policy agendas anchors the book.
A national security advisor could better appreciate the historical context of 17 months of national security as a memoir, especially the points of view of his international counterparts or even the military implications of his policies. But as a historical record he is best when assessing Trump’s failings.
All this confused press coverage reveals both the inconsistencies within Trump’s own thinking, and reporting based on second- and third-hand sources, exacerbated under a President who spent a disproportionate share of his time watching his Administration being covered in the press. It is difficult beyond description to pursue a complex policy in a contentious part of the world when the policy is subject to instant modification based on the boss’s perception of how inaccurate and often-already-outdated information is reported by writers who don’t have the Administration’s best interests at heart in the first place. It was like making and executing policy inside a pinball machine, not the West Wing of the White House.
Bolton’s book is useful for some key moments, especially the willingness of Trump to support the legitimacy of China’s re-education program of Uighar concentration camps in order to win re-election.
Trump’s urgency underscores how Bolton’s disclosures in a new book about his White House tenure could complicate a key pillar of the president’s reelection strategy as his campaign has attacked former vice president Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, as soft on China.As his public approval ratings have tumbled amid the coronavirus pandemic, Trump has sought to deflect blame by railing against Beijing for allowing the “Chinese plague” to proliferate beyond its borders. The president has taken steps to demonstrate his disapproval, including cutting off U.S. funding to the World Health Organization for purportedly caving to China’s propaganda.[…]Bolton’s most consequential account of Trump’s interactions with Xi centers on a one-on-one meeting in Japan in June 2019 when the Chinese leader complained about the growing chorus of China critics in the United States.Trump assumed Xi meant the Democrats, Bolton recounts in the book, and agreed that his political rivals had demonstrated “great hostility” toward Beijing.Trump then made clear to Xi that increased agricultural purchases by Beijing from American farmers would help him in the 2020 election, Bolton writes. In the same meeting, Trump appeared to offer tacit approval of the Communist Party’s jailing of an estimated 1 million Uighur Muslims in Western China in detention camps, according to Bolton, who cites an account from the U.S. government interpreter.
“Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do,” Bolton writes.Biden’s campaign swiftly seized on the revelations Wednesday. In a statement, the former vice president accused Trump of being “willing to trade away our most cherished Democratic values for the empty promise of a flimsy trade deal that bailed him out of his disastrous tariff war that did so much damage to our farmers, manufacturers, and consumers.“If these accounts are true,” Biden continued, “it’s not only morally repugnant, it’s a violation of Donald Trump’s sacred duty . . . to protect America’s interests and defend our values.”