Entry 61: Return of the ‘Stache?

March 8, 2018

Editor’s Note: This is the 61st installment in Van Jackson’s daily writing journal, “Nuke Your Darlings,” which tracks his six-month battle to write a new book on North Korea. Will he meet his deadline?

I managed 700-plus words today, but a solid third of that was pulling direct quotes, so not sure how much that should count toward productivity. I’m finding it harder and harder to protect my time for daily writing, but I’ve gotta deliver.

Trump apparently met with John Bolton today and talked mostly about North Korea. I wrote about John Bolton in a previous entry—he’s the guy who never saw a war he didn’t like. We should all be worried that this guy is advising Trump. As I heard a breaking story from CNN that the White House was going to draw on an “outside expert” to meet with North Korea for talks, I immediately feared they had Bolton in mind.

Trump had considered Bolton to be his national security adviser at the beginning of his presidency, but the rumor was he didn’t like Bolton’s mustache. He wanted his people to look the part, and the mustache didn’t do it for him. Now, Trump is reportedly considering Bolton as a replacement for H.R. McMaster, though he might also be the “outside expert” called on to meet with the North Koreans, or even to serve as ambassador to South Korea. Either way, Bolton’s in Trump’s ear.

As one of my colleagues quipped, “We’re one mustache away from nuclear war.”


Van Jackson is a senior editor at War on the Rocks and an associate editor of the Texas National Security Review. He is also a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington, and the Defence & Strategy Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies.