Apparently excerpts from former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s dossier have been released to the media. The Bolton dossier makes some of the most outlandish claims imaginable; and only the most incredibly silly media would ever believe them. So yeah, that’s exactly what’s happening.
One example within the Bolton Dossier comes from John Bolton himself as he wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal. Before citing the Bolton article it’s worth remembering CTH was following every detail of the Osaka G20 meeting closely. We took notes on every background and foreground contact and meeting, because the U.S-China Osaka meeting was at a very critical juncture. [My favorite picture from Osaka, Japan]
Bolton puts this goofball framework to the Osaka, Japan, G20:
(Wall Street Journal) […] In their meeting in Osaka on June 29, Xi told Trump that the U.S.-China relationship was the most important in the world. He said that some (unnamed) American political figures were making erroneous judgments by calling for a new cold war with China.
Whether Xi meant to finger the Democrats or some of us sitting on the U.S. side of the table, I don’t know, but Trump immediately assumed that Xi meant the Democrats.
Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility to China among the Democrats. Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise. (more)
What clearly pours out of this article, in its totality, is how John Bolton felt unimportant in the world of geopolitics because President Trump relied on the economic team of Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Ross, USTR Lighthizer and Trade Advisor Peter Navarro to achieve national security objectives. Bolton’s biggest problem is actually with the Trump doctrine.
Bolton’s frustration is crystal clear in his own words:
[…] The administration has “panda huggers” like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; confirmed free-traders like National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow; and China hawks like Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, lead trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro.
After I became Trump’s national security adviser in April 2018, I had the most futile role of all: I wanted to fit China trade policy into a broader strategic framework. We had a good slogan, calling for a “free and open Indo-Pacific” region. But a bumper sticker is not a strategy, and we struggled to avoid being sucked into the black hole of U.S.-China trade issues.
This approach was so fundamentally foreign to Bolton that he couldn’t wrap his mind around how trade and economics could be used instead of dropping bombs.
Note Bolton’s own quote “the most futile role of all“. He was futile because his DC neocon view to achieve national security through military is so far away from the successful strategic deployment of economics that he cannot fathom it. Bolton had no way to open his mouth at the table because the economic team was speaking a foreign language.
The use of economics requires an entirely different set of skills. The strategic map is not looked at from the position of geographies, the map is viewed from the perspectives of wealth, currency exchanges, trade dynamics, tariffs, rules of commerce and other complex economic contracts that require a totally different frame of reference.
Planning successful outcomes on an economic front requires taking steps, gaming out the opponents financial goals, and taking action that seem completely disconnected at the time they are happening – but come together much later on.
An example is U.S. energy development, a strong U.S.-Saudi Arabia relationship to coordinate lower oil prices, liquefied natural gas to Poland and simultaneous sanctions against Venezuela. Collectively this type of strategic economic process hurts the affluence of Russia, Iran and China and inhibits their geopolitical influence.
Hurt their strategic affluence, diminish their strategic influence… That’s using economics. This type of economic process is foreign to the mind of John Bolton.
Serendipitously, USTR Lighthizer was testifying to congress today and was able to field a question about that Osaka G20 meeting & the ridiculous claims of John Bolton. WATCH: