Bolton takes over

Bolton takes over
John Bolton has officially taken over the duties as America’s new National Security Advisor. He is the third one to serve in the position during President Donald Trump’s tenure..

John Bolton has officially taken over the duties as America’s new National Security Advisor. He is the third one to serve in the position during President Donald Trump’s tenure.

A known war-hawk, experts are concerned that he will push for conflict in various regions across the world including China.

Background

US President Donald Trump is a polarizing figure in world politics. His administration has also been criticized for being chaotic and controversial. Key members of the administration have left the administration since it came together in 2017. According to a study done by Kathryn Dunn Tenpas of the Brookings Institute the Trump White House has set the record for one of the highest attrition rates. The research notes that one in three staffers who were part of the White House left their positions within the first year. This is higher than the attrition rates in the five previous administrations. Some of the people who left or were dismissed include Steve Bannon, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Anthony Scaramucci, former Press Secretary Sean Spicer and more.

In the month of February, a number of high profile resignations and firings took place in the White House. Chief among them was the dismissal of Rob Porter, a White House aide who had been accused of domestic violence. The White House initially published a statement of support to Rob Porter. However, the tide quickly turned and the current Chief of Staff John Kelly is reported to have fired him. In March, President Trump dismissed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson through a Tweet.

In March 2018, the Trump administration confirmed that then National Security Advisor, HR McMaster has resigned. The president also announced that he would be replaced by John Bolton. In a tweet he noted, “I pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor. I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/19.”

Analysis

A number of experts immediately raised red flags when John Bolton was announced as the next National Security Advisor. A nationalist and a conservative, Bolton served as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations from August 2005 until December 2006 as a recess appointee by President George W. Bush. With Bolton, Trump has found an aide who enthusiastically advocates a hawkish approach. He has signaled his support for initiating a war against North Korea and Iran.

Analysts have warned that this could result in more violence. “A close look shows he’s genuinely one of the most extreme, irresponsible, and dangerous voices in the country,” said Adam Mount, a senior fellow and nuclear weapons policy expert at the Federation of American Scientists.

Bolton, a war hawk is known for often repeating the phrase, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” He officially took over the office on Monday. On the same day, the White House announced that homeland security advisor, Tom Bossert, was stepping down. A statement read, “The President is grateful for Tom's commitment to the safety and security of our great country. Tom led the White House's efforts to protect the homeland from terrorist threats, strengthen our cyber defenses, and respond to an unprecedented series of natural disasters. President Trump thanks him for his patriotic service and wishes him well.”

Amid the news, South China Morning Post cited two former senior US officials as expressing concern that Bolton could advocate for war against China. The newspaper noted, “Speculation grew over the weekend that Bolton could visit Taiwan in June when the new American Institute on the self-governed island is slated to open, The Economist reported. The institute represents US interests in the absence of formal ties.”

“We urge the US to strictly abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters. The US should “avoid having official contacts with Taiwan or trying to improve their relations in substantive ways, and stop military contacts and arms sales with Taiwan so that China-US relations and peace and stability across the Straits will not be severely damaged”, Geng said.

There is another extremely vulnerable space in the world presently – Syria. President Trump has revealed that he would be responding to the alleged chemical attack in Syria. Bolton accompanied the president to a meeting of US generals to discuss a US response to the Syrian poison gas attack. “He picked today as his first day. So, generals, I think he picked the right day,” Trump said, before turning to Bolton, adding: “But certainly, you’re going to find it very exciting.”  “Bolton certainly doesn’t shy away from the use of military force,” said Julianne Smith, a senior member of the Obama national security council.

Assessment

Our assessment is that Bolton’s immediate litmus test as a National Security Advisor will be regarding the Washington’s response to the alleged chemical attack in Syria. Will America respond with a one-off strike on specific targets or begin a prolonged military presence? The other countries that will also be eyeing Washington’s response will be Iran, North Korea and Russia. Iranian government and President Trump have clashed regarding the nuclear deal and there has been a dissolution of ties between US and Russia.

If US initiates another war, then it would also simultaneously be fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq (war against terror).

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