J Street Statement on Reported Picks to Lead State Department

December 12, 2016

J Street released the following statement today on President-Elect Donald Trump’s reported nominations of Rex Tillerson and John Bolton to serve as Secretary of State and Deputy Secretary of State, respectively:

“The Secretary of State is one of the most important leadership positions in our federal government, serving both as the nation’s chief diplomat and a top advisor to the President in setting US foreign policy. Accordingly, J Street urges Senators of both parties to thoroughly vet Rex Tillerson’s background and qualifications to serve in this critical office.

We expect Senators to question him vigorously to determine whether his views are consistent with decades of bipartisan US support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and with upholding our country’s international commitments, such as the successful nuclear agreement with Iran, and whether he appreciates the importance of strong diplomacy as the first option for resolving conflicts abroad.

J Street believes John Bolton is a completely inappropriate choice for Deputy Secretary of State, or any role related to America’s relations with the rest of the world. We oppose his nomination and believe his confirmation 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.

Bolton’s long track-record shows to him to be hostile to the notion of diplomacy itself. He is an unabashed advocate for premature, unnecessary and dangerous use of military force in the Middle East and around the globe.

Bolton was one of the earliest champions of “regime change” in Iraq, and helped promote false information that led to the disastrous US invasion of that country, a decision he continues to defend. He has applied the same attitude and approach to Iran, publicly advocating in 2015 to “Bomb Iran” and insisting that diplomacy could never succeed in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, even as negotiations to defang Iran’s nuclear program without firing a shot were just weeks away from reaching fruition.

Even as the nuclear agreement with Iran has been implemented and deemed a success by US security officials and many members of the Israeli security establishment, Bolton has opposed it and called on the President-Elect to abrogate the agreement in his first days in office. That step would undo a major diplomatic accomplishment, isolate the US from our allies and potentially put Iran back on the path to a nuclear weapon and the United States again on the path to another costly war.

Bolton has shown little understanding for the challenges that Israel faces if it is to remain a secure and democratic homeland for the Jewish people. He has opposed US leadership toward a two-state solution and savaged the efforts the Obama administration has made to help bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to that bipartisan goal.

In addition to his extreme and out-of-touch policy views, Bolton demonstrated during his time as American ambassador to the United Nations that he is incapable of behaving diplomatically or upholding the reputation and foreign policy interests of the United States. His tenure in that position 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. Putting Bolton in the State Department’s second-highest office, where he would supervise and direct thousands of American diplomats and diplomatic staff around the globe, should be out of the question.

We note that the Senate in 2005 refused to confirm the nomination of Bolton as UN ambassador, and that he served only as a recess appointee. We strongly urge the Senate to act now in the same fashion, and refuse to confirm such a reckless choice for one of our nation’s most important offices.”

See other J Street statements