A change for the good.
Key point: Bolton promoted a hardline on nearly everything. But with him out of the picture, there is a chance for more peaceful, nuanced policies to be pursued.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Sept. 10 that he had informed national security adviser John Bolton that his services were no longer needed. Trump added, “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation.” Bolton’s removal raises questions about several foreign policy issues marked by either policy inconsistencies or disagreements among Trump administration officials. The decision to dismiss Bolton comes as Trump is struggling to remove political distractions, avoid military confrontation and demonstrate some foreign policy wins as he heads into the 2020 U.S. presidential race.
Bolton’s departure may have several geopolitical ramifications. These include:
The departure of Bolton removes a strong advocate of Iranian regime change and the architect of the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the maximum-pressure sanctions campaign against Tehran, which had raised the specter of another costly conflict in the Middle East that Trump very much wants to avoid. It will be important to watch if Trump eases his position on Iran by, for example, showing a willingness to offer some oil waivers to allow a French proposal on an Iranian credit line to move forward in return for a de-escalation of nuclear and military tensions. If Trump relaxes his position, this could ease the way for a face-to-face meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hasan Rouhani at the U.N. General Assembly later this month. But if Trump does not budge on sanctions, Bolton’s departure might make Iran calculate it can act more aggressively against the United States to break another stalemate if Tehran can be more confident following Bolton’s removal that Trump has no appetite for conflict.
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