Washington (AP) - US President Donald Trump regularly denies that there is chaos in his administration. Tuesday's operations did nothing to shore up Trump's protestations.
At 11:00 am, the White House press office announced that Trump's National Security Advisor, John Bolton, would join the media with Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Not an hour later - at 11:58 - Trump said on Twitter that he had fired Bolton over disagreements: "His services are no longer needed in the White House." One was missing at the White House press conference: John Bolton.
The man with the walrus schnauzer and the signet ring is a hardliner who is said to have a penchant for military intervention. During the reign of President George W. Bush, he was one of the most ardent advocates of the Iraq war - a decision Trump regularly calls a major mistake. Bolton has always been controversial. When Bush nominated Bolton for the post of US Ambassador in 2005, more than 100 US diplomats opposed the election in an open letter. Even in the government of Trump Bolton remained true to his hardliner course.
US media reported over and over again differences between Bolton and Trump, but also between Bolton and Pompeo. Although Trump is a man of hard words, he still wants to end the "endless wars" in which the US is entangled today rather than tomorrow. Even Pompeo is not exactly known for his gentle course, but nevertheless he got stuck with Bolton again and again. The US station CNN reported last Friday that the relationship between Bolton and Pompeo has reached a new low. The two had not talked for weeks.
Recently, US media reported that Bolton and Pompeo had fallen out on Afghanistan. Under Pompeo's leadership, US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad has been negotiating for months with the radical Islamic Taliban, the goal: an agreement that paves the way for the withdrawal of US troops and for peace. CNN reported that Khalilzad, in Bolton's view, was too focused on the Taliban. Trump canceled a meeting scheduled for last Sunday with Taliban representatives at Camp David and declared the talks dead. Bolton's job could not save that.
Bolton has never made a secret of his tough attitude. In March 2015, he wrote a guest article in the "New York Times," headlined: "Bomb Iran to stop Iran's bomb." Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Sarif counted Bolton as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the "B-Team" - a force that accused Sarif of trying to involve Trump in a military confrontation with Iran. Trump said in June, according to their own statements from an imminent military strike against Iran. And the president emphasizes again and again that he is in principle ready for talks with the leadership in Tehran.
There were also differences with Trump on the subject of North Korea, the President calls ruler Kim Jong Un his "friend". While Bolton criticized North Korean missile tests, Trump dismissed them as irrelevant. The New York Times reported that when Trump met Kim in a spectacular action at the Demilitarized Zone in late June and was the first US president to enter North Korean territory, Bolton decided not to join his boss.
Trump was aware that he had taken an agitator to the side. At the beginning of May, the president made a remarkable statement about Bolton: "I am the one to temper him." This is particularly telling from the mind of the affect politician Trump.
Given Bolton's tough agenda, Trump was regularly confronted with the question of how satisfied he was with his work. In the past, the president kept protecting his security adviser again and again. "I have John Bolton and I have a few other people who are a bit more moderate than him. And in the end I make the decision, "Trump said about that day in May.
But the battles between Bolton and those who are a bit more moderate are steadily growing behind the scenes. And the internal differences created additional confusion about Trump's government's foreign policy, which was already erratic.
Trump has already worn out three National Security Advisers with Bolton. The first was Michael Flynn, who after only a few days in office in the wake of the Russia affair had to go. It was followed by Herbert Raymond McMaster. The three-star general was considered relatively moderate, Trump and he should personally have never understood well. However, with Bolton Trump was now not happy.
What happens now? Does the departure of the gunmaker Bolton mean that Trump wants to take a gentler course in foreign policy in the future? Pompeo said - at his press appearance on Tuesday without Bolton - no one should assume that by a single change of personnel Trump's foreign policy will change significantly. Anyway, Trump is not necessarily known for making strategic decisions long-term and thinking ahead in all its facets. Bolton's sudden sacking is the best example.
Bolton Post in the NYT
CNN to the relationship Bolton and Pompeo