Jack is doing the Monday Book – so of course it’s late –
The Room where it Happened – John Bolton
Well – Bolton comes over in this as quite the piece of work. A hard line hawk who clearly believes in using force and any kind of underhand shenanigans to promote US policies around the world.
The book covers his time as part of Trump’s White House team and he portrays himself as the cleverest one in the place. He describes Trump as a kind of ‘useful idiot’ and the others as lightweights to be manipulated. Further, he describes a President “addicted to chaos, who embraced our enemies and spurned our friends, and who was deeply suspicious of his own government”.
In his dealings with world leaders there’s little attempt at normal diplomacy or compromise. There’s a particularly chilling passage where he describes quite matter of factly undermining the elected government of Venezuela and the country’s economy. At the same time he is supporting the attempted coup by another, more US friendly politician.
When Trump moved to reduce or remove US troops from Iraq, Afghanistan and S. Korea, Bolton wasn’t in favor. This didn’t play to his hard man image or his vision of US domination around the world.
There are some references to his time as US ambassador to the UN in George W Bush’s Presidency which show how his attitudes hadn’t changed much over time.
The book is quite well written and doesn’t appear to have been ‘ghosted’. I got the impression that it was probably based on a diary or written notes made over his time with Trump. Of course that means that insights he displays are what he observed and experienced personally, so not so much three dimensional chess but more chequers!
Can I recommend this book?
If you want one man’s perspective on a very dangerous time in which he played a prominent part then you might find it intriguing. I found it scary!