I first met John Bolton, Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, almost 25 years ago. We were on opposite sides of a public debate in 1994, with an audience of close to one thousand, about the role of the United Nations in the still-new post-Cold War era. I spoke immediately after him.
It was during that debate that Bolton made his now infamous remarks on the U.N. “There is no such thing as the United Nations,” he said. “When the United States leads, the United Nations will follow. When it suits our interests to do so, we will lead. When it does not suit our interests to do so, we will not.”
He followed up with a “joke” that’s been quoted in virtually every profile of him since. Talking about the 38-story U.N. headquarters, Bolton sneered: “If it lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”
When he finished, the audience was silent, and even from the stage I could see the horror on rows of faces.