Bolton’s Ouster Unleashes the Inner Trump
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.
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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.
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