Clash of Egos

11 September 2019


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Bolton Out as National Security Adviser


John Bolton should never have been anyone's national security adviser. The man's world view is a paranoid, frightened one in which first-strike violence is the only way to survive. Donald Trump has no real understanding of global politics, but he does like to be a hero. The threat always was that Mr. Bolton would talk the president into a war that America could not win because the terms of victory were amorphous. Instead, Mr. Bolton's ego clashed with Mr. Trump's, and Mr. Bolton is now out of work. Oddly, this may not make America any less like to go to war.

Mr. Trump announced the departure of the National Security Adviser (his third since taking office) by Twitter, his favorite medium. He claimed he asked for and got a resignation letter. Mr. Bolton answered on the same platform that he offered his resignation on Sunday; Mr. Trump neither accepted nor rejected it. On Monday morning, he says he quit of his own accord. Between the two, one trusts neither.

Mr. Bolton's record is a disturbing one. At its heart is his belief in regime change at bayonet point if need be. He honestly thinks that the trouble in the world stems from the wrong people being in charge of places like Venezuela, North Korea, Iraq, Cuba and Syria. This journal agrees that those regimes are in need of change. Where Mr. Bolton goes off the rails is in his belief that it is the job of the American government (and the Pentagon if need be) to remove them and institute bourgeious, liberal democracy like Kansas has. When it turns out that places like Iraq don't want to be places like Kansas, he has nowhere to go in terms of policy.

Mr. Trump is a foreign policy fool. He knows almost nothing about any of it. He has no idea of history, demographics, culture or any of the other factors that create the global polity. He believes himself to be a deal maker par excellence and that his personality is such that he can charm anyone into doing anything. His great ambition is for people to see him as a winner. If there were a quick, easy war for him to start, he would do it. However, what really motivates him in foreign policy is undoing the Obama administration's achievements (the JPCOA with Iran for instance). The cherry on top would be winning the Nobel Peace Prize for some international agreement.

So, Mr. Trump has been struggling to find a diplomatic win, a bid deal for which he would receive his accolades. He has looked in places Mr. Bolton sees no room for diplomacy. Moreover, Mr. Bolton has demonstrated over many years that he is not the kind of man to readily change his mind nor to lower the volume of his argument. It was only a matter of time.

The question of a replacement makes one leery. Mr. Trump began his administration with some solid people who would be "the adults in the room." Over time, solid people left, and others have learned that they don't want to get involved with this administration. Those now filling the jobs tend to be grifters, self-promoters and the inept.

So naturally, one is concerned that the next National Security Adviser will be of that calibre. Or worse, Mr. Trump will leave an acting adviser in place and simply do as he wishes.

© Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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