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John Bolton’s departure as the president’s national security adviser removes one source of American tension with the world. But it means that Donald Trump may increasingly shape U.S. foreign policy himself.
Longtime hawk Bolton — fired yesterday by Trump citing disagreements on policy — was a key enabler for the president to take a hard line on Iran and North Korea.
Yet while Bolton is a believer in foreign policy as a tool to combat regimes he perceives as a threat to U.S. strategic power, Trump tends to see overseas dealings through the prism of advancing U.S. economic interests.
That increasingly put them at odds as Trump met with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, planned a meeting — later nixed — with the Taliban and now flirts with the idea of seeing Iran’s Hassan Rouhani. Trump also has a more relaxed view of Vladimir Putin of Russia.
Much now depends on who becomes the fourth national security adviser to serve Trump, and how quickly.
In the short term, Bolton’s demise may strengthen Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, a Trump loyalist, and leave rulers Bolton detests breathing easier. But it also removes a brake on Trump recalibrating foreign policy in even more disruptive ways.
Just In: A Scottish court ruled that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament is unlawful, meaning the U.K. Supreme Court will take up the issue next week, further clouding the constitutional picture over Brexit.Trump’s headaches | As Trump accelerates his 2020 re-election campaign, he faces months of investigations by House Democrats on everything from his finances to his alleged role in payments to silence two women claiming to have had affairs with him. Added to those, the Judiciary Committee says it’s reached a key phase in building an impeachment case against the president.
Unlikely comeback | Taiwan’s China-skeptic leader, Tsai Ing-wen, looked to be on the way out just a few months ago, with poor polling heading into presidential elections in January. The Hong Kong protests changed all that. Tsai’s firm stance on China has become her biggest selling point to a Taiwanese electorate acutely aware that what happens in Hong Kong matters for them.
Good fortune | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s assault on economic orthodoxy — high interest rates cause inflation, he maintains — may just benefit from favorable timing and data. Analysts are predicting the world’s biggest interest-rate cuts will precede a drop in inflation from around 20% to single digits. The question is how long the lira can bear it: cutting too far will crash the currency and send inflation soaring again.
Google’s heart | U.S. state attorneys general investigating Google over antitrust concerns are targeting its core business model by ordering it to turn over a wide range of information about its sprawling system of online advertising products. Questions posed by their investigative demand, which is similar to a subpoena, dig deep into Google’s money-making machine and ask for a thorough explanation of how it all works.
Netanyahu’s gambit | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to annex swaths of the West Bank was denounced as “madness” by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who appealed to the international community to stop it. The move would deal a body blow to Palestinian dreams of an independent state. Next week’s Israeli elections will show if Netanyahu’s bid pays off regardless.
What to Watch
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is due to meet top officials in Brussels today and forge what he promises will be warmer ties with the EU after he won the second of two confidence votes in parliament. Russia and Ukraine will face off at Europe’s top human rights court over claims that Moscow-led forces tortured and killed Ukrainian police and civilians during their annexation of Crimea five years ago. A Nigerian court is due to rule today on an opposition challenge to President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election in February in Africa’s biggest oil producer.
And finally…Libya is gripped by its worst fighting since the 2011 NATO-backed ouster of Moammar Qaddafi, as rival powers vie for control of the oil-rich North African nation. Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army, the largest force in the country, is trying to pry the UN-backed government of Fayez al-Sarraj from the capital, Tripoli. The upshot, as Samer Al-Atrush reports, is a population that’s grown inured to violence, power cuts and gas shortages, and a country more divided than ever.
–With assistance from Benjamin Harvey.
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