Liberal Jewish group J Street spoke out aggressively Monday night against former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton, amid reports that he is President-elect Donald Trump’s preferred choice for deputy secretary of state.
Political sources told NBC News that Bolton, the firebrand diplomat who served as George W. Bush’s envoy to the world body between 2005-2006, would be tasked with the day-to-day management of the State Department under the chosen secretary — currently expected to be Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.
But while J Street appeared wary of Tillerson, saying it expected the Senate to question him vigorously in hearings — it was outright livid over Bolton, asserting that he was “a completely inappropriate choice for deputy secretary of state, or any role related to America’s relations with the rest of the world.
“Bolton’s long track-record shows to him to be hostile to the notion of diplomacy itself,” the organization said. “He is an unabashed advocate for premature, unnecessary and dangerous use of military force in the Middle East and around the globe.”
It claimed Bolton’s tenure at the UN “is widely viewed as an embarrassing and damaging period for our country, and has been widely denounced by American diplomats who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.”
Allowing Bolton to reenter the global stage “would greatly set back American diplomacy, our country’s national standing and the foreign policy and security interests of the United States and our allies, including Israel.”
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky also said he would oppose Bolton’s nomination, telling ABC News he was an “automatic no on Bolton,” adding that “He should get nowhere close to the State Department.”
The former Republican presidential candidate said ““John Bolton doesn’t get it. He still believes in regime change. He’s still a big cheerleader for the Iraq War…John Bolton is so far out of it and has such a naive understanding of the world.”
As a foreign policy official in multiple Republican administrations, Bolton has long been revered in the pro-Israel community for his lead role in the United Nations’ 1991 rescission of the 1975 “Zionism is racism” resolution. Among foreign policy think-tankers, he has been the most forceful in recent years in advocating military action to get Iran to end its nuclear program.
He also helped shape UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War on terms Israel could accept.
And he is a vocal critic of the Iran nuclear deal, which he has called “a strategic debacle.” A March 2015 opinion piece he penned for the New York Times was titled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”
Bolton’s 18-month term as envoy to the UN was stalked by his reputation for tough talk. He once said the United Nations could function as well if the top 10 stories of its towering East River headquarters in New York City were sliced off.
In a November piece for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Bolton said the three main foreign policy priorities for Trump should be stopping “radical Islamic terrorism and the Middle East’s spreading chaos,” thwarting the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea, and curbing Russian influence in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
JTA contributed to this report.