UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — An unthinkable alliance between US President Donald Trump and his national security adviser John Bolton has brought together foreign policy.
Bolton was skeptical of Trump’s ability to reach a result of engagement with North Korea and his efforts to win over Russian President Vladimir Putin and supported the Iraq war that his president hated.
However, the two have worked together relatively relatively well for 17 months. Bolton insisted on his hard-line views behind the scenes, winning some internal debates, losing others, and always making it clear that he was not the decision maker.
Trump’s pursuit of a dialogue with Taliban leaders on the future of Afghanistan was the rock on which Monday’s coalition broke, and the president is now looking for his fourth national security adviser.
Two sources familiar with the matter said that one of the things that harassed Trump is that Bolton may reveal the participation of Vice President Mike Pence in his opposition to Trump’s bid to receive Taliban leaders in the presidential resort of Camp David, Maryland to try to reach a peace agreement.
The sources said that the implication was that Bolton was trying to stand in line with Pence and send Trump a message that the vice president himself disagreed with him, which has infuriated the president.
Trump canceled the Camp David talks planned for the weekend after a US soldier was killed in a suicide bombing in the Afghan capital last week.
Bolton believed the United States could withdraw 5,000 of the roughly 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan while maintaining the effectiveness of the counterterrorism force there without the need for a deal with the enemy, the sources said.
“The difference between them is fundamental and only one of them is elected president,” one source said.
However, a bit of turmoil happened before the weekend.
White House officials noted that Bolton declined to appear on major television talk shows on Sunday while Trump was at the Group of Seven summit in France in late August promoting the idea of Russia returning to the group and the possibility of talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Staff at the West Wing say they have noticed a change in Bolton in recent months. He became silent and no longer inclined to confrontations and traveled abroad a lot.
While senior advisers often flew with the president on the president’s plane on overseas trips, Bolton often boarded his plane and made side trips to countries not on the president’s tour.
“It seemed a bit strange,” one source said.
In his media interviews, Bolton has often said that his views on major foreign policy challenges have not changed for a few years. As a national security adviser, he worked to separate the United States from a number of global treaties, believing it would eventually shackle the country.
He has been a strong advocate of sanctions on Iran and the overthrow of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and told Russian officials that Moscow should not interfere in the US election, which Trump’s positions largely matched, while keeping the door open for Putin.
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