Former national security advisor John Bolton had harsh words for President Donald Trump at a private lunch on September 18, 2019.
After getting fired from his post on September 10, Bolton has made it clear that there was a growing divide between him and Trump on foreign policy. He criticized Trump’s invitation of the Taliban to Camp David as a “terrible signal” and that it was “disrespectful” to 9/11 victims because the Taliban provided shelter to al-Qaeda.
Two attendees claimed that negotiations with North Korea and Iran were “doomed to failure.”
Bolton described the attack on Saudi Arabia, which U.S. and Saudi officials believe Iran was responsible for, as “an act of war.”
These comments came the same day Trump named Bolton’s replacement, hostage negotiator Robert C. O’Brien.
That same afternoon, Trump pushed back against Bolton.
“Well, I was critical of John Bolton for getting us involved with a lot of other people in the Middle East,” he told reporters while visiting the U.S.-Mexico border south of San Diego. “We’ve spent $7.5 trillion in the Middle East and you ought to ask a lot of people about that.“
“John was not able to work with anybody, and a lot of people disagreed with his ideas,” Trump continued. “A lot of people were very critical that I brought him on in the first place because of the fact that he was so in favor of going into the Middle East, and he got stuck in quicksand and we became policemen for the Middle East. It’s ridiculous.“
Trump was correct in firing Bolton based on these statements.
Bolton represented the failed hawkish policies of the previous Bush administration, so his presence will definitely not be missed.
However, foreign policy commentator Philip Giraldi points out that Trump’s new national security adviser may not be all that:
He has written a book entitled While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis, calling on the United States to end any “appeasement and retreat,” and has described the nuclear agreement with Iran, in predictable neocon fashion, as a repeat of 1938, Hitler and Munich.
It appears that O’Brien might not be so much of an upgrade after all. At the very least, O’Brien is more low-key than his predecessor and may not overwhelm Trump with as much hawkish advice as Bolton did.
Nevertheless, anti-war activists and America First believers must continue to hold the president accountable no matter who he surrounds himself with. It is ultimately the grassroots who are the final check against the D.C. Swamp’s machinations.