In the wake of multiple troubling foreign policy developments, John Bolton has left the position of National Security Adviser on September 10th. Known for his war-mongering and ‘tough guy’ tendencies, Bolton promoted many controversial views including keeping troops in Syria and discouraging talks between the President and foreign adversaries. Reports started circulating that predicted his departure days before the announcement. However, this was not an amicable split between the President and his adviser, much like other departures from this administration.
President Trump put his former National Security Adviser on blast in a short series of tweets, stating that he “disagreed strongly” with Bolton’s suggestions as did other members of his staff. In adding to the drama of the situation, Bolton tweeted his side of the story which claims that the President did not fire him but instead suggested that they discuss the situation the next day. While it is unclear as to what the final straw was for the President, a source from PBS who is familiar with the situation says that the recent tension concerning Iran was a major factor. Bolton was opposed to a meeting between President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani which was intended to help ease the relationship between the two countries after President Trump pulled out of the Iran Nuclear deal.
In further comments, Trump also mentioned North Korea and Venezuela. Bolton made headlines on both of these issues, specifically North Korea in which he voiced his support of denuclearization on the “Libya model.” The Washington Post explains that these comments angered North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un because of its suggestion that he is comparable to Moammar Gaddafi, a dictator who was overthrown shortly after the denuclearization of Libya. This tension that Bolton caused only proved to hurt the President’s efforts to reach a deal with the repressed nation. A similar result occurred in Venezuela when Bolton made inflammatory comments concerning the stability of the country and its leader Nicolàs Maduro which are facing a growing human rights crisis.
As told by the Washington Post, the former National Security Advisor not only caused issues internationally but within the White House as well. Notably, he has clashed with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence.
With Bolton now officially gone, it raises the question, ‘what now?’ Perhaps the biggest impact his departure will have is on Iranian-American foreign policy. With the infamous Warhawk out of the White House, the Trump Administration has a few other advisors who are willing to contradict the President when it comes to his set ideas on foreign policy. While no meeting is officially set, politicians on both sides of the aisle remain wary as to what this meeting could bring. The Hill reported statements from politicians like Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) who believe this can lead to a reopening of talks for a nuclear deal. However, they are still skeptical of the President’s intentions. Others such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) wish for there to not even be a meeting, fearing a new nuclear deal. However, it has been proven throughout this entire presidency that it is impossible to ever know what Trump intends.
Because of the importance of this position, many were left wondering who the President will choose to replace John Bolton. As promised by President Trump on Twitter, his announcement came a week later on September 18th in which he named Robert O’Brien as the new National Security Advisor. Fortunately, O’Brien does seem to have some qualifications. As stated in the President’s tweet, he served as the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department. We can only hope that he will carry out what is best for the country, but only time will tell.
Since his departure from the Trump Administration, John Bolton has already returned to political activities. According to USA Today, within days of his unceremonious departure, Bolton has already returned to his old position heading his two political action committees: the John Bolton PAC and the John Bolton Super PAC. Along with this return, he has also begun donating to political campaigns for 2020, all of which are for Republicans. The PACs’ agendas, much like Bolton’s, are in favor of strong national security and they support candidates accordingly. With these actions, it’s clear that Bolton is not ready to let go of his influence just yet.