With one fell swoop, President Trump just swapped out the “warrior scholar” for the warmonger.
Today Trump tweeted that General H.R. McMaster will step down as John Bolton, a deeply controversial former U.S. ambassador, steps into the role of national security advisor. Bolton will move into the high-ranking foreign policy advisor position just as the U.S. is approaching talks with North Korea, an extremely delicate diplomatic maneuver between two volatile leaders.
Last month, Bolton argued the legal case for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea — an extreme position in which even the best case scenario could result in broad carnage for the U.S. and its allies.
Bolton established his extreme and hawkish reputation during his tenure as the undersecretary of state for arms control during the Bush administration. In that advisory position, Bolton argued strongly in favor of the Iraq war, tying his justification to the supposed presence of weapons of mass destruction.
If most people could agree that McMaster was a respectable choice for national security advisor, just as many seem to oppose Bolton becoming a prominent figure in shaping Trump’s foreign policy. When Bolton’s name was floated just after the election, Republican Senator Rand Paul penned an op-ed denouncing Bolton as “hell-bent on repeating virtually every foreign policy mistake the US has made in the last 15 years.”
While McMaster was sometimes characterized as a cautious futurist, Bolton’s record on tech is less clear. We’re sure to learn more about the new advisor’s various postures quickly, as Bolton stirs up bipartisan anxiety around U.S. foreign policy, particularly in Iran and North Korea.
After the swift fall of Michael Flynn in early 2017 and the quick appointment of McMaster, Bolton will become Trump’s third national security advisor in less than two years.