Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

The shameful insubordination of John Bolton

Posted by M. C. on January 10, 2019

I wonder what arms manufacturer rewards Bolton with a job when he “retires”.

W. James Antle III

“Don’t upstage the boss” is a powerful maxim in Washington, and usually it applies to President Trump’s White House. But National Security Adviser John Bolton doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo.

“Bolton puts conditions on plan for withdrawal from Syria,” reads one recent headline. “Contradicting Trump, Bolton says no withdrawal from Syria until ISIS destroyed, Kurds’ safety guaranteed,” blares another. “John Bolton says certain conditions must be met before U.S. withdraws from Syria,” states a third.

Trump has been talking about U.S. troops leaving Syria for months. “We’re coming out of Syria very soon,” he said in March. “Let the other people take care of it now — very soon, very soon, we’re coming out.” By December, he’d lost his patience with those inside the government resistant to the move and abruptly announced a change in policy.

While there are certainly good reasons to proceed more methodically — and with less deference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — than Trump’s Twitter speed, the exhaustive conditions laid out by Bolton, and perennial hawks like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), would likely mean no Syria withdrawal at all for the duration of Trump’s presidency. On top of that, by slow-walking the withdrawal from Syria, which the president publicly ordered, Bolton appears to be overruling his boss.

If that’s the case, Trump may well come to regret his failure to heed another Washington maxim: personnel is policy. Much of his national security team is made up of the same kind of people who made many of the foreign policy decisions he campaigned against in 2016. Putting someone like Bolton in charge of winding down a war is like appointing an open-borders advocate to oversee building the wall…

If this means the eventual withdrawal is more expertly performed, then that is good. But it is difficult to avoid the impression that some who favor an indefinite military presence in Afghanistan and/or Syria may be operating in pursuit of that objective.

Whether it is Webb or someone else, Trump needs advisers and Cabinet secretaries who share his assessment of the limits of America’s role in the world — and believe there is only one president at a time.

Be seeing you

endless war

One Response to “The shameful insubordination of John Bolton”

  1. Doug Rowley said

    Most presidents have at least a small cadre of loyal supporters. Trump is surrounded by people like Bolton. He is a tool, but not the president’s tool.

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