Home/Daniel Larison/The Push to Get Rid of Bolton

The Push to Get Rid of Bolton

National Security Advisor John Bolton attends meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Oct. 23, 2018. (Office of the Russian President/public domain)

Henry Olsen is very worried that other people in the administration might be out to get Bolton:

Whatever the motive, conservatives who favor more robust U.S. involvement abroad should sit up and take notice. One of their strongest allies within the administration is under attack. Whether Bolton’s influence wanes or even whether he remains is crucially important for anyone who worries that the president’s impulses that deviate from past American foreign policy will weaken American security.

There have been a number of unflattering reports about Bolton in the last few weeks, but for the most part those stories are just proof that Bolton has no diplomatic skills and does a terrible job of managing the administration’s policy process. If Bolton had done a better job of coordinating Syria policy, the administration’s Syria policy wouldn’t be the confused mess that it is. If he hadn’t made such a hash of things with the Turkish government, there would have been no snub by Erdogan for anyone to report. There may be quite a bit of hostile leaking against Bolton, but that is itself a testament to how many other people in the administration loathe him.

The National Security Advisor has had a reputation of being an abrasive and obnoxious colleague for a long time, and his attempts to push his aggressive foreign policy agenda have made him even more enemies. If Bolton is “under attack” from within the administration, it is because he has behaved with the same recklessness and incompetence that characterize his preferred policies overseas. He should be attacked, and with any luck he will be defeated and driven from office. Unfortunately, we have been seeing the opposite happen over the last few weeks: more Bolton allies are joining the administration in important positions and at least one major rival has exited.

Bolton’s influence in the administration is an important indication of what U.S. foreign policy will look like in the months and years to come, and the longer he remains National Security Advisor the worse it will be for U.S. interests.

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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