Factbox: Reactions to Trump firing of John Bolton, foreign policy hawk


(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has fired national security adviser John Bolton amid disagreements with the hard-line aide over how to handle foreign policy challenges such as North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan and Russia.

FILE PHOTO: National Security Advisor John Bolton adjusts his glasses as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks while meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 2, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

A leading foreign policy hawk and chief architect of Trump’s strident stance against Iran, Bolton was widely known to have pressed the Republican president for a harder line. He was Trump’s third national security adviser.

U.S. lawmakers and officials, policy analysts and foreign allies reacted immediately to the unexpected news:

Senator Marco Rubio, a top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters:

“I’m a big fan of John Bolton. I’ve worked very well with him, and in my view he did a good job. But ultimately that’s the president’s decision to make. He has the right to have people around him that he wants.”

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters:

“It’s emblematic of President Trump’s style. He wants people who basically are yes-men. I may not have agreed with Ambassador Bolton on a whole host of issues and his bellicose views, but the one thing about him is he obviously presented counterviews at times for his (Trump’s) consideration. That’s not something the president wants.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at the White House:

“…. I don’t think that any leader around the world should make any assumption that because some one of us departs that President Trump’s foreign policy will change in a material way. … There were many times Ambassador Bolton and I disagreed, that’s to be sure, but that’s true for lots of people with whom I interact.”

Norbert Roettgen, chairman of the foreign policy commission of the German parliament and senior lawmaker from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, told Reuters: 

“It is an opportunity, not leastly for the trans-Atlantic relationship.”

Richard Gowan, International Crisis Group U.N. director, said in a statement:

“Bolton brought his trademark dislike of the U.N. and other international institutions like the ICC (International Criminal Court) to the White House. On his watch, the U.S. has ensured that the U.N. has been marginalized on crises from Libya to Venezuela. The Trump administration was highly skeptical of multilateralism before Bolton’s arrival, and is unlikely to embrace it warmly now he has gone. But the U.S. may devote a little less time and energy to weakening U.N. institutions.”

North Korea expert Harry Kazianis, a senior director at the Center for the National Interest think tank, said in an email:

“For anyone like myself who wants the United States to return to a more restrained and realist foreign policy, the firing of John Bolton was long overdue and a smart move for Team Trump. … Trump is now free to find a national security adviser who is against wars of regime change, a smaller footprint in the Middle East, some sort of diplomatic track with North Korea and a much bigger focus on the rise of China.”

Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, told Reuters:

“You know, I would normally say ‘shocked’ but nothing in this administration shocks you today. Mr. Bolton and I didn’t agree on a lot of issues. But he was a straight shooter. He knows the circumstances. I’m sure he told the president what was going on. The president may not have liked to hear it. And it’s unfortunate if the president won’t accept professional advice.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, who is vying for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, wrote on Twitter:

“A symptom of the problem is gone. The root cause of authoritarianism remains.”

Senator Chris Murphy, a Democratic member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement:

“This revolving door of American leadership is devastating to our nation’s security as our allies now turn to more stable nations – like China and Russia – as our foreign policy infrastructure falls apart. John Bolton was the wrong choice and the silver lining to this instability is that there will be fewer people whispering war chants in the president’s ear. But no one of any quality is going to take a job in the nation’s national security cabinet so long as everyone’s head is permanently hovering slightly above the chopping block.”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said in a statement:

“President Trump, like every other president, has the right to a National Security Advisor of his own choosing. I hope the president will choose someone with a strong background in national security and a world view that there is no substitute for American power when it comes to world order and that strength is better than weakness.”

Asked earlier in the day who would now speak to U.S. allies from the White House, Graham said:

“Probably Trump.”

Created by Sonya Hepinstall

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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