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Rep. Rohrabacher and John Bolton: A Powerful Secretary of State Duo

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

I am writing to recommend Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and John Bolton to serve respectively as Secretary of State and Deputy Secretary of State in the new Administration. I have known both gentlemen since the 1980s when I served with them in the Reagan State Department and White House. The two would make an ideal team, each bringing special talents, viewpoints, knowledge, leadership, and strength of character to the Department.

Congressman Rohrabacher has had serious experience in foreign affairs for over three decades. In his capacity as speechwriter for President Reagan, he not only developed knowledge of various foreign policy issues, but became acutely sensitive to the nuances of diplomatic rhetoric and its global impact. He has developed expertise in various areas of foreign policy of which I will cite but a sampling.

One field in which he originally cultivated expertise was in Soviet and international communist affairs during the 1980s. This knowledge not only served him then, but has informed his understanding of the statecraft, strategic cultures, and behavior of totalitarian and authoritarian states in subsequent years. Because so many elements of Chinese statecraft are closely related to that of the Soviet Union, he is well prepared to address what I consider to be the major long-term threat to U.S. national interests – that of China.

With the defeat of Soviet forces in Afghanistan, Congressman Rohrabacher developed a particular expertise in that country, having traveled there frequently and presented our government with constructive proposals for our role in assisting that country’s future. Of those involved in U.S.-Afghan policy, his judgement about the political conditions there has been arguably more realistic than that of each of the presidential administrations since then. Specifically, he has understood that Afghanistan is a confederation of tribes that has never had a successful central government, except when that government was led by the former king, who respected tribal autonomy. The lesson he gained from this understanding is that the U.S. attempt to create an instant democracy with a strong central government may well be a utopian project.

The events in that part of the world impelled him to develop knowledge of the radical Islamist movement and its modus operandi. In this connection, he understands that we may not kill terrorists at a rate faster than they are recruiting new ones, and that the recruitment process is not a military problem but a political problem with its propaganda, ideological, and religious doctrinal elements. He understands that we are in a war of ideas that requires capabilities in international strategic communications, public diplomacy, overt and covert political action, and ideological warfare – all capabilities which the U.S. has consistently neglected.

Rep. Rohrabacher has long been skeptical of military interventions where the vital national interests of the United States have not been at stake. At the same time, in contrast to those who would unilaterally disarm or withdraw from the world, he is in favor of a robust defense posture and a credible deterrent.

As Chairman of several subcommittees in Congress – most recently the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats – his experience in addressing various foreign policy and defense issues has made him among the most knowledgeable members of Congress. As an elected representative, he has demonstrated his sensitivity to the attitudes that large numbers of American citizens have had about U.S. foreign policies over the past two decades. His views on most – if not all – foreign policy issues are congruent with those of President-elect Trump.

Ambassador John Bolton’s credentials in foreign policy are equally impressive. He has served in the State Department in two major capacities: Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs, and Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security. In the latter capacity, he recognized that arms control is a diplomatic vehicle that addresses only the symptoms of international tension and not its causes. He was also courageous enough to see and speak the truth about our adversaries’ constant violations of arms control agreements.

Amb. Bolton also served as a senior official at USAID, developing expertise in the often misunderstood and misguided policies of foreign assistance. Then, he served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, where he stoutly stood for the interests of the United States and our allies.

Amb. Bolton’s record of service makes one thing very clear: as Deputy Secretary, he will not be controlled by a Department that is manifestly skilled at controlling the agendas, information, and priorities of new political appointees there. Rather, as chief operating officer of the Department, he will ensure that the president and secretary of state’s agenda will be faithfully implemented and not delayed or derailed by the career bureaucracy (a risk that is likely to be faced by a nominee who does not have adequate knowledge of foreign policy issues or the ways of the State Department).

I strongly endorse the idea of a Rohrabacher-Bolton team at the State Department. Both gentlemen are possessed of strong convictions, the highest integrity, patriotism, loyalty, toughness, and prudence. They both subscribe to the time-honored policy of peace through strength. They both appreciate the necessity of pursuing our nation’s interests by using all the instruments of national power and integrating them in national strategy. A Rohrabacher-Bolton team will represent the best tradition of strong defense and advancement of vital U.S. national interests.

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