The dismissal of Donald Trump’s national security advisor is not so strange. They thoroughly disagreed.
In retrospect, it’s amazing how long John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, endured: 520 days, an eternity in the Trump era. But on Wednesday, Bolton learned (via tweet) that his boss was giving him the sack.
From the start, it was surprising that Trump chose Bolton after dismissing Bolton’s predecessor, H.R. McMaster. The two wholeheartedly disagreed where military intervention was concerned. Bolton was almost always in favor of intervention, including the invasion of Iraq, a colossal blunder, according to Trump.
And yet, Bolton’s nomination perfectly reflected Trump’s ambivalence concerning resolution of foreign conflicts. Trump loves a show of arms and likes to threaten fire and brimstone (for example, against North Korea), but he deeply despises actual intervention.
That produced a schizophrenic foreign policy, with a string of failures as a result. His alternating hot and cold baths for Kim Jung Un – first threats, then two summits with his new “friend”—failed. Moreover, American attempts to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro failed because Bolton promised opposition leader Juan Guaido more than Trump wanted to deliver.
Bolton also fiercely opposed negotiations with the Taliban, whom Trump even wanted to invite to Camp David, even while they continued their attacks. Trump disagreed with Bolton so often, he ended up paying more attention to Fox News host Tucker Carlson than to Bolton.
The world has become slightly safer now that super-hawk Bolton has left, but whether American policy will now finally settle down remains to be seen. Trump’s security team is one big mess because of Trump’s whims that have curtailed the terms of many of his advisers and cabinet secretaries.
Now, there will be a new national security advisor, the fourth in three years. But the problem remains that Trump will not listen to this person, but will expect the national security advisor to listen to him. That is not a good recipe for a man who wants contradictory things.