On April 9th of last year, Beltway brows furrowed over the hiring of John Bolton to replace H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser. The addition of a career neoconservative was seen by many as a hawkish augur for U.S. relations with Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, and Russia, and potentially a deeply regrettable decision.
Bolton is gone now, after a flurry of claims that he had tendered his resignation.
As President Trump said via Twitter, "his services are no longer needed at the White House" after Trump found himself "disagreeing strongly with many of his suggestions."
The assumption going forward in Washington and on Wall Street is a new, gentler diplomacy. Global markets reacted, with Brent crude fell more than a dollar per barrel on the news, as investors priced in a lower likelihood of war with Iran.
Nevertheless, Bolton's main foil, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, told reporters: “I don’t think that any leader around the world should make any assumption that because...one of us departs that President Trump’s foreign policy will change in a material way.” Oil pared some of its losses in afternoon trading.
But the primary reason for Bolton's hasty departure appears to be tied to his strident objection to diplomacy with known enemies such as North Korea, and specifically concerning the idea of inviting Taliban leaders to Camp David over the anniversary of September 11. After all, it was just Monday when Trump announced that Taliban talks were "dead."
Bolton appealed to Trump's desire to project power globally, and that threats of retaliation were quite real. "He’ll bomb you," Trump would joke when meeting foreign leaders. "He’ll take out your whole country.” Indeed, it was Bolton who proposed a missile strike in Iran that would have killed many noncombatants as payback for the downing of a drone in June. Trump decided at the last to scuttle the mission, demonstrating remarkable restraint.
Trump has managed to maintain international peace while making headway on domestic goals despite three years of treachery from the left. Bolton's appetite for intervention was a potential stumbling block for the Trump agenda, one that is now removed.
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