WASHINGTON, DC: Donald Trump took the axe to his foreign policy team again on Thursday, firing national security adviser HR McMaster. He named John Bolton, a hawk who has lobbied for military actions against North Korea and Iran, his next pick for the critical job. The move comes just over a week after he fired his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Keeping with his style of firings, Trump announced the top-level personnel change in a tweet. "I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor. I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/9," read the tweet.
I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor. I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/9.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2018
The move was hardly a surprise, expected as it was for well over a week. This is part of Trump's attempts to take control of his foreign policy away from the team of former military generals who were seen as moderating his mercurial style. McMaster was also among the members of the Trump cabinet who maintained a connect with the policy priorities of the Republican Party.
With McMaster's ouster, two of the four retired generals in Trump's team remain. McMaster and his predecessor Michael Flynn are now on the outside of the roller-coaster White House, as General John Kelly (retd) trudges on as White House Chief of Staff and General James Mattis (retd) manages to push forward at the Department of Defence.
Trump does not need the confirmation of the US Senate to appoint a national security adviser, so he will get to put 69-year-old Bolton on the job with no interference from either the Republicans or Democrats.
Bolton is a known hawk who is known to back the typical 1940s 'Big Stick' ideology of using the threat - unspoken or otherwise - of military muscle to force the American way around the world. He has been a long-time advocate of pre-emptive military action against North Korea and Iran, options that the US foreign policy establishment in general balks at.
Bolton was also a leading advocate for the Bush administration's war in Iraq, which ended up destabilising the country and created an opening for outfits like the Islamic State.
(With inputs from agencies)