(Reuters)Despite his professed opposition to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, President-elect Donald Trump is considering several of the major advocates of that war for top national security posts in his administration, according to Republican officials.
Among those who could find places on Trump’s team are former top State Department official John Bolton and ex-CIA Director James Woolsey. Both men championed the Iraq invasion, which many analysts have called one of the major U.S. foreign policy debacles of modern times.
Also involved in transition planning for Trump’s presidency is Frederick Fleitz, a top aide to Bolton who earlier worked at the CIA unit that validated much of the flawed intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs.
Although it is impossible to predict how a Trump foreign policy might evolve, one U.S. official who has served in Iraq said advocates of the 2003 invasion might be more inclined to commit additional U.S. forces to the fight against ISIL there, despite the absence of a status of forces agreement that protects Americans from Iraqi legal action.
Paul Pillar, the top U.S. intelligence official for the Near East from 2000 to 2005, said that because Trump had little foreign policy experience and had given conflicting accounts of what policies he would pursue, the Republican president-elect’s senior personnel appointments would be crucial.
“What we’re seeing going on – and we should be worried about it – is a new president who on so many foreign policy issues has been all over the map,” said Pillar, now at Georgetown University. “Thus, the senior appointments game that we go through every four years has more consequences than it usually does.”
Bolton, who is under consideration as Trump’s secretary of state, the officials said, and Woolsey, reported to be in the running for U.S. director of national intelligence, did not respond to requests for comment. The Trump transition team also did not immediately respond when asked for comment.Even if Bolton is nominated, Senate confirmation is not a foregone conclusion. In 2005, Senate Democrats – with the support of a single Republican – blocked a vote to confirm him as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He served in that post under Republican President George W. Bush while the Senate was in recess.