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Good Riddance, Bolton

John Bolton spoke at the National Conservatism Conference this week.(By Christopher Halloran /Shutterstock)

Curt Mills’ reporting told us it was coming yesterday, and today Trump has finally fired Bolton:

Mr. Trump announced the decision on Twitter. “I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week.”

It took far too long to happen, but Bolton’s firing is undeniably good news. Bolton is the embodiment of everything wrong with hawkish Republican foreign policy, and his role in the administration has been without question a purely destructive one. I have to admit I didn’t think it would happen. Bolton had prevailed again and again on policy, and despite pushing his own agenda and doing an abysmal job as National Security Advisor he remained in place. Whatever Trump’s reason was for getting rid of him, it was the right decision. Bolton ends his career as one of the worst National Security Advisors in U.S. history. He should never have been hired, but at least he is out of government. Now he can go shill for the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) full-time.

Whoever takes over as Bolton’s replacement will have a difficult job of repairing the damage that he did. Bolton presided over the most dysfunctional national security process in recent memory by design, and that compounded the administration’s existing foreign policy dysfunction. He pushed an extremely hawkish agenda that has led the U.S. closer to unnecessary war with Iran, disastrously committed the U.S. to regime change in Venezuela, and effectively torpedoed diplomatic engagement with North Korea. Most recently, he prevailed on Trump to kill the negotiations with the Taliban. He was a leading supporter of the cruel economic warfare that the U.S. has waged against Iran and Venezuela over the last year. The Trump administration’s foreign policy will still be a failed mess without him, but it will have one less fanatic involved in setting policy.

Trump’s three National Security Advisors don’t appear to have had a lot in common, but all of them were dangerous hard-liners in different ways. Flynn was a conspiratorial Iran hawk, and Bolton was even worse. McMaster seemed the most reasonable of the three, but let’s remember that he was the one promoting the idea of preventive war against North Korea. The president has gone through several National Security Advisors in less than three years, and that reminds us that the president is bad at hiring competent personnel. If Trump chooses someone else with the same mentality and ideological hang-ups, we shouldn’t expect much of a change in policy.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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