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The room where it happened : a White House…

The room where it happened : a White House memoir (vuoden 2020 painos)

– tekijä: John R. Bolton

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
4572640,853 (3.05)9
Teoksen nimi:The room where it happened : a White House memoir
Kirjailijat:John R. Bolton
Info:New York, NY : Simon & Schuster, 2020.
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):

Teoksen tarkat tiedot

The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir (tekijä: John Bolton)

  1. 01
    The Untold History of the United States (tekijä: Oliver Stone) (PlaidStallion)
    PlaidStallion: Hey, Bolton is known as a guy Republicans turn to to get things done. From Stone’s book:

      Further efforts to reach agreement during the Bush and Obama years failed, although North Korea repeatedly stated its willingness to halt its nuclear program if a deal could be struck guaranteeing its security. When the younger, Swiss-educated Kim replaced his father in 2011, many hoped for liberalization of the dictatorial regime. But, having learned from the fate of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, Kim accelerated the pace of North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs. Obama, largely eschewing diplomacy, responded with an aggressive cyber warfare strategy to slow the North’s progress.

      North Korea’s accelerated efforts yielded fruit. On July 4, 2017, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) tested a Hwasong-14 ICBM that it claimed could “reach anywhere in the world,” including the mainland United States. On August 5, the UN unanimously slapped new sanctions on North Korea, banning export of North Korean coal, lead, iron, and seafood-exports that counted for approximately $1 billion of North Korea's $3 billion earnings. North Korea accused the U.S. of trying to “strangle” it and threatened a sharp response.

      The U.S. intelligence community reported that North Korea possessed as many as sixty nuclear weapons and had developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could fit atop a missile. When the North Koreans threatened to fire missiles at Guam, Trump erupted, warning of “fire and the fury like the world has never seen.” “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely,” he tweeted.

      Among those demanding military action was soon-to-be national security advisor John Bolton. On Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, he called for preemptive strikes “before North Korea has dozens and dozens of nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles that can hit the United States.” He declared on Secure Freedom Radio on August 10 that “you eliminate the nuclear threat by eliminating North Korea.”
    … (lisätietoja)
  2. 01
    Cainen kapina romaani (tekijä: Herman Wouk) (M_Clark)
    M_Clark: The Caine Mutiny also describes the challenge of working for a boss that is completely inept and who puts his crew in danger as a result.

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» Katso myös 9 mainintaa

englanti (25)  saksa (1)  Kaikki kielet (26)
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 26) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
The Room is an epic horror show, oddly and well-written by a former trump Republican supporter.

Even more strange is that it does not appear to have deterred any of trump's other delusional members.

The book reads smoothly with impending disaster - like a novel with many long and boring interludes.

It is too bad that the author does not also renounce his own disastrous choices:
to bomb North Korea,
to end Obamacare,
to test even more murderous nuclear weapons.... ( )
  m.belljackson | Jun 9, 2021 |
Did not like. ( )
  graps | Feb 5, 2021 |
Other than the amazement that the respected John Bolton would ever consider working for Trump, is the amazement Bolton lasted as long in his position of security advisor. Bolton did his best to advise Trump but it was a fool’s errand to try to attempt such with Trump who never read security briefings, didn’t have the patience to pay attention to any counsel other than his own opinion, and who had surrounded himself with cringe worthy yes men/women. Bolton knew he could never last long with such a volatile president so took voluminous contemporaneous notes of all events he attended in his security advisor role. This book is a data dump of all his notes, showing how incompetent the Trump presidency really was. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jan 20, 2021 |
This is the most tedious book I've ever felt compelled to read. I probably would have skipped it if there hadn't been last-minute squabbles over prepublication security review, but in reality there was nothing particularly objectionable about the review (it was slightly slower than desired due to covid19, but made only the most minor of changes, all routine), and that basically summarizes the entire book: a tediously documented, probably entirely factual, and ultimately meaningless accounting of lots of decisions and discussions in the White House during Bolton's term as National Security Advisor.

My personal politics probably are fairly compatible with Bolton's -- while he's much more of a hawk/interventionist than I am, his analyses are generally reasonable -- you just need to apply a large correcting factor for the very high cost of most actions in blood and treasure, but he's at least reasonable at weighting different courses of action consistently.

Nothing in the book was particularly new -- that Trump makes decisions without a lot of deep discussion or debate, that his style is...jarring, and that he has been willing to do things which have been considered impossible or undesirable. Often, a lot of these actions have led to less-bad outcomes than the default or consensus action (particularly with respect to avoiding additional foreign wars), other times they're irrelevant, and sometimes bad (and then walked back or ignored by him, which seems to be a superpower most other politicians are unwilling to exercise themselves).

I really don't know of anyone who would enjoy the book. If you hate Trump, there's no real "dirt" on him in this book, and you presumably already hate Bolton. if you like Trump, Bolton isn't saying anything which will change your mind. It's probably a bit too narrowly scoped (and still unfinished) for someone interested in arms-length historical analysis of the geopolitics of the period. Maybe it's interesting to people who deeply care about the career of John Bolton, but given how he left, that career is pretty much over, so that is also a limited audience. Yet, large numbers of people will feel pressured to buy (and possibly read) this book, ultimately to disappointment. ( )
  octal | Jan 1, 2021 |
John Bolton likes to bomb Iran and Cuba. That is my main Bolton conclusion from reading his book, The Room Where it Happened.

John Bolton was the US’ National Security Advisor (NSA) from mid 2018 to late 2019. The National Security Advisor is responsible for keeping the US president informed on national security issues and for executing the president’s orders. It means working closely with the president every day. In this case Donald Trump.

The book starts with the election of Donald Trump and how John Bolton did not become secretary of state, nor national security advisor. It then quickly moves on a year and a half and Trump decides, after watching Fox News, that John Bolton should be his third attempt at a manager for the National Security Council.

John Bolton was from the start critical of many other in the cabinet and around Trump, and in the book he calls them “democrats”, apparently his favourite insult. He does not explain how these “democrats” ended up in a republican government though. To me it seems like something he calls anyone that doesn’t want to bomb Iran.

Bolton is also a fan of removing bureaucracy. Whether that bureaucracy is doing anything useful or not does not matter as much as Bolten having a chance to remove people. This is where the experts on pandemics got fired or moved to the department for weapons of mass destruction. In the book, Bolton explains that it was an improvement, realizing that he has gotten some of the blame for the non-perfect response to the new coronavirus.

Once he had shrunk the national security council he started working on extracting the US from the deal the US had made with Iran to lift sanctions in exchange for Iran not developing nuclear weapons. In John Bolton’s view any deal with Iran is meaningless because they cannot be trusted so better to just sanction (and bomb) them.

As we now know, he managed to convince Trump that the deal was bad, which was very easy since Trump likes undoing anything his predecessor, Barack Obama, did. He only had to convince or override those in the government that thought the deal was better than the alternatives since those had, so far, prevented Trump from leaving.

Initially Bolton describes himself as the president’s right hand, strongly criticizing people that he thought undermined Trump’s authority by not presenting all options or by not executing the president’s suggestions. It did not take long for him to understand that he had been wrong and this might be only topic he admits being wrong on. When he joined the administration he thought that Trump was a rational person reacting rationally to input, but quickly gives up that notion. Instead he describes the president as a person who could change his mind on key national policy three times before lunch, depending on who he last talked to or who he last saw on Fox News.

In that environment, working on the execution of any order becomes futile since Trumps opinion will probably change before the day is over, or once someone has talked to Trump.

At the same time Trump could also have fix ideas which did not align well with reality. Not questions of policy but more questions about whether 2 2 is 4 or 5. One such idea is that the US pays for NATO, when NATO is just an umbrella where countries insert their own national forces. You can insert more or fewer forces, but nobody “pays for NATO” (except for the headquarter in Brussels for which the US pays about 20%, lowered to please Trump).

So when Trump threatens to stop paying for NATO, what does he mean? John Bolton did not understand. I don’t know if this is where he decided to make life simple for Trump by just giving him easy choices and by not executing clearly illegal or stupid orders.

Luckily for Trump, according to Bolton’s book, other authoritarian leaders understood Trump much better. Donald Trump is described as believing that if he, Trump, is friendly with an authoritarian leader, they would do what he asked of them. This is something Bolton doesn’t believe and Bolton is probably joined by about 98% of the world’s population in that belief.

This mix-up of person and country seems to be a common theme in anything Trump does. According to Bolton. Trump's first question whenever something is suggested is “how will it reflect on me?”. Bolton also describes a Trump that has big problems separating national security and trade deals, throwing in favors to China’s spy organisation as a card in trade deal negotiations.

All this combines to a situation where Bolton considers resigning through most of his 17 month tenure, but until the end, according to himself, stays onboard because he has so much to give to the country.

There are a number of bombshells in the book, of the kind that would become huge scandals for any other president, but for this one ends up being very predictable.

Bolton describes how Trump pleads with the Chinese leader Xi to help Trump in the 2020 election.

Bolton describes how Trump is willing to block the prosecution of the Turkish bank Halkbank in exchange for favors from Erdogan.

Bolton describes how Trump, purely based on fanciful rumors spread by Rudy Gulliani that Ukraine somehow manufactured Russia’s attacks on the 2016 election, refuses to pass on assistance Congress has ordered to be sent to Ukraine. And how the same rumors makes him fire an ambassador to Ukraine since that ambassador tries to reign Rudy in before he does too much damage.

Bolton describes how Trump tries to sell American military services at a premium, “cost 50%”, to allies (which includes some really unpleasant dictators). He seems to think of the US miltary as just another business asset.

Bolton describes how Trump wants to attack Venezuela militarily to get rid of president Maduro, which is kind of strange considering how little he is interested in using violence elsewhere.

Bolton describes how Trump uses his daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, as go-betweens with other governments, bypassing both the state department and the national security council, and quite often contradicting the US official position.

Mostly though, he strongly hints that Trump is just plain stupid, without using those words. Unable to grasp complex interactions, unable or unwilling to prepare for meetings and just in general ignorant (is Finland a country?). Bolton leaves it a bit open wether Trumps ignorance comes from stupidity or indifference but I think that is just to have a way to deny he’s calling Trump stupid.

One question many will ask is why Bolton did not help congress during the impeachment process and Bolton claims it’s because he wanted to have a court order to do so. Bolton also thinks we should blame the democrats for not producing that court order. (At the time, the democrats said that waiting for courts and appeals and courts and appeals and the supreme court would take too long and proceeded without it so we will never know how long it would have taken.)

He also attacks the House for making a too narrow impeachment. I guess he wanted Trump impeached for everything illegal he’s done or is doing, but the House decided to instead focus on just two main items.

Strangely, he has nothing negative at all to say about the 200 republicans in the House and 50 in the senate that elected to overlook the illegal things that Trump does and did. In general he keeps attacking democrats in general and Obama in particular for being democrats and Obama. Included in the word “democrat” is anyone that doesn’t align with his view of foreign policy. That becomes a bit tiresome.

Another thing in the book that become tiresome is John Bolton’s high regard of John Bolton, and John Bolton’s opinions. Rarely is John Bolton wrong or modify his stance because John Bolton is always right.

From an editorial perspective, the book is split up into themes. Iran, Venezuela, Syria, North Korea, and so on, and they all cover the same time frame, the 18 months John Bolton was NSA. I think it would have been much better to have the book ordered roughly chronological. I have a very hard time figuring out the ordering of events which makes it hard to see patterns in Trump’s attitude and behaviour.

There are many things that I miss in this book. One thing in particular is that the NSA (National Security Advisor) seems to have near zero contact with NSA (National Security Agency) or CIA or any other intelligence agency. I think this is because Bolton want the book to stay away from everything classified, but it leaves a glaring hole since interacting with the intelligence agencies should be one of his most important tasks. The closest he comes to closing that hole is in the afterword where he says he had to change some statement to “in my opinion X happened” to protect sources.

I am giving this book 4 stars, not because it’s a great book but because it’s a unique point of view into a unique situation in the US history. Unless you are interested in knowing more about what goes on in the White House under Trump, this book is not worth reading. ( )
  bratell | Dec 25, 2020 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 26) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
The book is bloated with self-importance, even though what it mostly recounts is Bolton not being able to accomplish very much. It toggles between two discordant registers: exceedingly tedious and slightly unhinged....
In another book by another writer, such anecdotes might land with a stunning force, but Bolton fails to present them that way, leaving them to swim in a stew of superfluous detail...
It’s a strange experience reading a book that begins with repeated salvos about “the intellectually lazy” by an author who refuses to think through anything very hard himself.
lisäsi 2wonderY | muokkaaNew York Times, Jennifer Szalai (maksullinen sivusto) (Jun 18, 2020)
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