President-elect Donald Trump would be best served by selecting a secretary of State who understands the national security challenges our country faces, can literally “hit the ground running,” has a proven track record of successful negotiations, and most importantly, not only protects but projects the greatest attributes about America’s ideals of freedom and democracy. Remember that President Obama spent the first part of his administration on an apology tour. His disdain for American leadership in the world was communicated aboard and broadly. We have seen the results. As a human rights activist who has advocated for the world’s most persecuted people, I have worked closely with both Democrats and Republicans. We accept two strong bipartisan truisms: First, America may not want to be the world’s leader, but if America does not lead, the countries who step into that role absolutely do not have the best interests of the citizens of this world, and second, we can best avoid war and achieve peace in the world when America is strong. While rebuilding America’s defense will be the job of the secretary of Defense, the secretary of State must rekindle that role of American leadership. I strongly believe that John Bolton would be the best choice to do that. We have seen the growing influence of China and Russia, the loss of freedom in Europe for the first time since World War II, major turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, which has led to more refugees than any time since World War II, a growing nuclear threat from North Korea, which is destabilizing Asia, and the threat from ISIS here at home and abroad. While Mr. Obama may not have believed that there was anything exceptional about America, Mr. Trump actually believes there is. His campaign theme suggests just that: Make America great again. This is especially important for the oppressed people of the world. No one understands this better than the person closest to Mr. Trump: Melania Trump, who was inspired by Ronald Reagan to seek freedom and opportunity in the United States. Mr. Trump needs a secretary of State who shares that view of American exceptionalism and is willing to protect and project it abroad. Mr. Bolton is the perfect choice for the job as someone who understands the threats we face and knows how to effectively advocate America’s interests, but also those who struggle for freedom around the world. Whether North Korea defectors who have escaped the most brutal regime in modern history or Sahrawis from North Africa who have struggled for half a century for self-determination, they have often commented that they love the man with the bushy mustache. Mr. Bolton was the first ambassador at the U.N. to focus on North Korean human rights, hosting the first session that gave defectors the opportunity to speak out about the conditions there. He worked pro bono with former Secretary of State James Baker to try to achieve a breakthrough in the long-simmering conflict over Western Sahara, the longest U.N. peacekeeping mission. And it was Mr. Bolton who succeeded in getting the U.N. Security Council to address for the first time the human rights situation in Burma. He also inspired action on the atrocities committed by the Khartoum regime in Darfur, Sudan and succeeded in getting the Security Council to approve 22,500 U.N. peacekeepers for Darfur. While serving as the assistant secretary of State for international organizations, Mr. Bolton orchestrated the repeal of the U.N. resolution that equated Zionism with racism. He had been told this would be impossible. While he has been criticized for his combative style and strong words, it is just that that endears him to those who have lived under tyranny. For example, he was criticized for describing Kim Jong-il as a “tyrannical dictator” but for the defectors who had lived under that tyranny, that was music to their ears. Finally, someone was speaking the truth. That is why North Korean defectors have told me, “We love that man with the bushy mustache.” The Sahrawis, one of the most oppressed people groups in North Africa, watched the American election in fear, terrified that someone who had sold them out to Morocco may become president and crush their hopes for self-determination. To the dismay of human rights activists from both sides of the aisles, the Moroccans have spent billions to curry favor for their brutal occupation of Western Sahara. Hillary Clinton is just one sad example of a politician bought by Morocco as highlighted during the campaign with a $1 million donation to the Clinton Foundation. The Sahrawis are another people group who love the man with the bushy mustache. Mr. Bolton boldly stated that if the U.N. did not fulfill their 1991 promise for a free, fair and transparent referendum on self-determination in Western Sahara, the U.N. should leave the region. While he was criticized for such a bold statement, his words gratified Sahrawis tired of the U.N.’s failure, which has subjected them to horrific human rights violations in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara and forced the bulk of their population to continue to live in refugee camps. We need that man with the bushy mustache to restore America’s leadership in the world and give hope to the oppressed that one day they, too, will have freedom and human rights. • Suzanne Scholte is president of the Defense Forum Foundation and winner of the 2008 Seoul Peace Prize.
And we agree wholeheartedly with Suzanne’s assessment of Ambassador John Bolton. He’d make an outstanding Secretary of State.