Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post‘s resident conservative, and consistant anti-Trumper, offered an interesting perspective on the John Bolton/Mike Pompeo conflict recently. In We should all pull for Pompeo over Bolton, she examines the conflict between the two men and concludes that Pompeo is our best hope for some kind of sanity in the White House, at least when it comes to Foreign Policy.
Bolton, she hints, is a trigger-happy nutcase who just can’t wait to use the toys. She doesn’t exactly come out and say he has wet dreams about nuking Tehran, but she does note that he’s a dangerous man, “National security adviser John Bolton, one of the most outspoken advocates for ripping up the Iran deal…is in the business of feeding Trump’s hunger to destroy the Obama legacy. Bolton delights in egging Trump on to withdraw from international agreements, shift to a hard-power-only strategy and offend international elites whether these actions are in the United States’ best interests or not. Bolton is happiest when our European allies are tearing their hair out and when we declare rogue states to be beyond diplomatic persuasion.”
She contrasts this to Pompeo, for whom she has some hope. “Pompeo’s success,” she says, “depends on his disproving Bolton’s conclusion that diplomacy is worthless. While Bolton is inclined to ‘see national security policy as a way of settling scores with enemies, foreign and domestic, and closing the file’… Pompeo in his North Korea dealings is out to demonstrate that military power is the predicate for successful diplomacy.”
Is she right? Well, certainly Pompeo can be no worse than Bolton, and surely he could be better. In which case, he would be the prototypical lesser evil.
Though, in Trumpworld, that may mean picking a fractured skull over a broken neck. As lesser evils go, in other words, the difference may be pretty damn small.