GP Insights # 143, 14 September 2019
On 9 September, Trump sacked John Bolton his National Security Advisor. He tweeted: "I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House." Bolton is the third National Security Advisor to be removed by him. In his reply, Bolton pointed that he is resigning at his own will, well before Trump's notice.
What is the background?
The immediate cause for ousting Bolton looks like the failed Afghan-Taliban peace deal. Bolton has been aggressive to pursue a strong American action in Afghanistan, which is against what Trump wants to do in Afghanistan - Get Out. Bolton's approach in retaining American troops in Afghanistan is against Trump’s plans for the upcoming presidential elections. Trump has repeatedly vowed to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
Bolton’s approach for American action in North Korea and Venezuela have also been at odds with Trump. Since his appointment, differences between Trump and Bolton have been explicit. Trump in his tweet also mentioned about his disagreements with Bolton over several issues.
What does this mean?
There seems to be a tension within the American policymaking institutions on broader US foreign approaches. This signals chaos and creates more grounds for global tensions - Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, the Middle East and the rise of China.
Second, Bolton’s sacking highlights Trump’s efforts to personalise institutions that manage global affairs.
Third, Bolton’s exit could give Iran extra edge over formal and informal negotiations. The absence of Bolton in the Trump administration should also be a relief for North Korea.