On 24 June a US court rejected a bid by the US government to block publication of the memoirs of John Bolton, a former national security adviser to US President Donald Trump.
It’s worth recalling that John Bolton, the arch-hawk and conservative who was jokingly called the godfather of the DPRK’s nuclear program for his activities in the 2000s, worked in the White House for 17 months before being fired by Trump in September 2019 after the pair clashed over various political issues, including North Korea.
Following the book’s publication, Trump branded Bolton “a wacko” and accused him of divulging classified information, while Secretary of State Pompeo added: “It is both sad and dangerous that John Bolton’s final public role is that of a traitor who damaged America by violating his sacred trust with its people.” Seoul’s official reaction was similar: Moon’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, said that Bolton’s unilateral disclosure of the contents of negotiations violated the core principles of diplomacy and undermined trust between the governments. Chung added that illegitimate acts like this could greatly harm the two countries in terms of ensuring security as well as in their efforts to preserve and develop a common strategy for the US-South Korean alliance. Bolton’s story was labelled as distorted and inaccurate. Responding in the course of an interview on Fox News, Bolton said it would be a “disservice” to the South Korean people if he didn’t write the truth.
Overall Bolton’s memoirs are acutely reminiscent of the recollections of Nazi generals who claimed they would have defeated everyone if it hadn’t been for the stupid Fuhrer. The whole thrust of the book is that Trump was more concerned about being re-elected as president than he was about US national security interests. However, his memoirs do contain a lot of interesting information which merits comment.
Firstly, we have confirmation of the role played by Bolton in Hanoi, when he proposed the “Libyan model” to Kim at the eleventh hour of negotiations. After that, according to Trump, “all hell broke out”, although Bolton apparently did not directly mean that Kim Jong-un would suffer Gaddafi’s fate, but rather what went before that: firstly force North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile programs,