For John Bolton, President Trump’s third National Security Advisor, now appears that the Afghanistan issue and policy debate may have been his Waterloo, and for that, the last straw for his service to this President. But like myself, many saw this in the making for some time, certainly by the way Mr. Bolton tends to conduct business.
Bolton was not hired because 0f ideology or his political stance or beliefs. He was hired because he knew the national security system and process extremely well, along with knowing his way around the interagency and Washington, as well as the key players on the national and world stage. He is a respected power broker, bureaucrat and insider. Unfortunately, he also failed to live up to his role of managing a sound, in what we refer to as “interagency process.” To his shortcomings, he often worked outside of it on his own and that is not a good thing.
Before I address some of Bolton’s other shortfalls, let me point out this fact, in order to make my points more clear. Most Americans do not understand the role and responsibilities of the National Security Advisor. First, it is to manage and run the day-to-day mission of the NSC and staff and to coordinate, corroborate, arbitrate, negotiate positions of the key principles of the NSC. He or she is not a decision-maker of U.S. policy, only a conveyer of policy and its components from the Departments of State, Defense, Treasury, Energy and the Intelligence Community. Finally, the National Security Advisor does not set or establish policy, and certainly does not order, direct or launch military operations. That responsibility lies solely with the President.
With that, unfortunately Mr. Bolton’s biggest detractors were;
– He isolated himself from the President on key policy issues … he did not relate to or promote a number of the national security policy priorities established by the NSC Principles Committee, and of course those of critical importance to the President.
– He failed to recognize the pivotal subordinate personal policy issue of “Loyalty” to this President … essentially, at times, he seemed to forget who was President.
– He failed to be an advisor and counsel to the President…instead he tried to and did at times played the role of “know it all”… sometimes from the position of combative arrogance. The last thing you want to do with this President.
– As a hawk and neocon, both ideologically and life-long, he got in the way of, or debated the diplomatic-negotiation-style of this President. It was the get us out of wars not into them — the interventionist position of national security versus the “America First” view of the President.
– He failed to grasp and realize when to negotiate … and when to “slit throats.’ Understanding that there is a synergy and finesse to this art that this President is a master — Bolton failed that lesson, despite being on the job for over 17-months.
– He disagreed with the President’s approach and decision to sit down with any world leader to discuss the critical concerns to national security, be it NK, Iran, or as in this case, the Taliban.
– Internally to the White House and the NSC, he took too many self-imposed overseas trips, along with taking along large entourages of NSC staffers with him. This angered the President and worse these self-imposed decisions in turn, short changing the White House internally.
Finally, John Bolton’s value and worth began to be tested in the spring when he was not invited to a number of critical national security meetings normally attended by the national security advisor. Particularly, during critical meetings between South and North Korea, where instead he was dispatched to remote Mongolia to attend meetings of an unrelated nature and lesser strategic importance to the administration and the nation.
In the end, the writing had been on the wall for some time … rather than offering himself as a valuable and pivotal asset and assistant to the President for national security (his official title by the way). His job was to advocate for the policies of this president and his agenda, not oppose them and advocate for his own.
John Bolton became a liability and a hindrance to the Commander-in-Chief, President Donald Trump. John Bolton unfortunately made his own bed and the President had enough! Photo: AP