With Bolton’s ouster, world lead­ers won­der what’s next

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY GUY TAY­LOR

U.S. al­lies and en­e­mies served up a range of re­ac­tions Wed­nes­day to the ouster of hawk­ish Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser John R. Bolton, while in­tense spec­u­la­tion mounted over Pres­i­dent Trump’s pick to re­place him.

Iran and Is­rael shared a rare mo­ment of agree­ment, with Tehran fear­ing and Jerusalem hop­ing that the U.S. “max­i­mum pres­sure” cam­paign on Iran is un­likely to soften with Mr. Bolton’s de­par­ture.

“I have no doubts at all that, in any sit­u­a­tion … Pres­i­dent Trump and his ad­min­is­tra­tion will be very, very tough with Iran,” Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said in a tele­vi­sion interview, cit­ing U.S. sanc­tions an­nounced against Tehran on Tues­day, just af­ter Mr. Trump de­clared he had fired Mr. Bolton.

With Mr. Trump telling re­porters he

al­ready has a list of five pos­si­ble can­di­dates and will de­cide next week, world lead­ers watched closely for signs of whether the pick will be some­one with less of a hard-liner bent to­ward ad­ver­saries such as North Korea and Iran.

Mr. Trump and Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo are the ones who “crafted the Amer­i­can pol­icy” to­ward Iran, Mr. Ne­tanyahu said.

But there was re­newed spec­u­la­tion that the de­par­ture of Mr. Bolton, long an ad­vo­cate for regime change in Tehran, could pave the way for a meet­ing be­tween Mr. Trump and Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani on the side­lines of the U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly ses­sion this month.

In Iran, Mr. Rouhani said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion “should un­der­stand that war­mon­ger­ing and war­mon­gers have no ben­e­fit and the war­mon­gers should be set aside,” ac­cord­ing to Ira­nian state me­dia re­ports.

Ab­bas Ali Kad­kho­daei, a spokesman for Ira­nian Supreme Leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei’s Guardian Coun­cil, said Mr. Bolton’s ouster would not ease ten­sions. “The U.S. hos­tile and ar­ro­gant poli­cies do not change by one per­son’s dis­missal,” he said.

“John Bolton’s ouster shows [the] fail­ure of Trump’s pol­icy of pres­sure and ad­mis­sion of the fact that war­mon­ger Bolton had closed his eyes on re­al­i­ties,” he tweeted.

Mr. Trump, who has Mr. Bolton’s deputy, Charles Kup­per­man, fill­ing in as in­terim na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, has not re­vealed who may be on the short list as a per­ma­nent re­place­ment.

North Korean pol­icy

North Korea may be the one as­pect of Mr. Trump’s for­eign pol­icy most af­fected by Mr. Bolton’s de­par­ture.

The pres­i­dent told re­porters that Mr. Bolton “wasn’t in line” with his prece­dent-shat­ter­ing per­sonal diplo­macy with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and said Py­ongyang was rightly an­gered when Mr. Bolton in April 2018 floated the “Libya model” for end­ing the North’s nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grams in the run-up to Mr. Trump’s first sum­mit with Mr. Kim in Sin­ga­pore.

Libyan dic­ta­tor Moam­mar Gad­hafi lost first his power and then his life in a coup af­ter agree­ing to give up his nu­clear pro­grams in ex­change for eco­nomic re­lief in a 2004 deal with the U.S. and Bri­tain.

“He talked about the Libyan model for Kim Jong-un,” Mr. Trump said. “That was not a good state­ment to make. You just take a look at what hap­pened with Gad­hafi. That was not a good state­ment to make. And it set us back.”

Although there was no of­fi­cial re­ac­tion on the tightly con­trolled North Korean state press, the Kim regime “must be thrilled at the fir­ing of John Bolton,” said Srini­vasan Si­tara­man, a North Korea an­a­lyst at Clark Uni­ver­sity in Mas­sachusetts. “Kim re­sented Bolton’s max­i­mal­ist po­si­tions on nu­clear ne­go­ti­a­tions and his use of the ‘Libyan model’ as an anal­ogy.

“Kim [also] heaped ire on Bolton and partly held him re­spon­si­ble for tor­pe­do­ing the Hanoi sum­mit,” Mr. Si­tara­man said. “Now that Bolton is out of the way and as the U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly gets underway next week in New York, there is no one to stop Mr. Trump from mak­ing a deal with North Korea.”

“North Korea will ap­par­ently wel­come Trump’s ouster of Bolton, as the hawk­ish fig­ure has long been seen as a thorn in its side from the North’s view­point,” Park Won-gon, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at Han­dong Global Uni­ver­sity, told the Seoul-based Korean Times. “This is a pos­i­tive sign in terms of re­sum­ing the nu­clear talks be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Py­ongyang.”

But Mr. Park warned that Mr. Bolton at times pro­vided use­ful re­al­ity checks on his boss’ de­sire to cut a deal with the North.

While not re­mark­ing on the change in Wash­ing­ton, North Korea did re­veal Wed­nes­day that it had tested a “su­per­large” mul­ti­ple rocket launcher a day ear­lier. South Korea’s mil­i­tary said the North had fired two short-range pro­jec­tiles east­ward from its west­ern re­gion.

Diplo­matic open­ing

In Europe, some saw an open­ing for an im­proved tone in diplo­macy with Wash­ing­ton now that Mr. Bolton is gone.

“It is an op­por­tu­nity, not least for the trans-At­lantic re­la­tion­ship,” Nor­bert Roettgen, chair­man of the for­eign pol­icy com­mis­sion of the Ger­man par­lia­ment and a se­nior law­maker from Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s Chris­tian Demo­cratic Union party, told France24.

Mr. Bolton was also a noted skep­tic of Rus­sia, but Deputy Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Ryabkov told the Novosti news agency that he had “no ex­pec­ta­tion” that re­la­tions with the U.S. would al­ter any­time soon.

But Mr. Bolton was a strong backer of Mr. Trump’s de­ci­sion to re­nounce the Cold War-era In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nu­clear Forces Treaty with Rus­sia and a skep­tic of Mr. Trump’s de­sire to wel­come Rus­sia back into the Group of Seven lead­ing in­dus­trial nations, and some in Rus­sia saw his de­par­ture as a pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment.

Mr. Bolton “al­ways op­posed agree­ments on strate­gic sta­bil­ity and arms con­trol, believing that they un­nec­es­sar­ily limit the U.S. and pre­vent them from demon­strat­ing their su­pe­ri­or­ity,” Sen. Kon­stantin Kosachev, chair­man of the Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil’s Com­mit­tee on For­eign Af­fairs, told The Moscow Times. “I don’t know if Trump fired Bolton for this rea­son, but it’s for this rea­son that I’m def­i­nitely not go­ing to grieve about his dis­missal.”

Mr. Bolton was also a vis­i­ble ad­vo­cate for regime change in Venezuela. He strongly sup­ported op­po­si­tion leader Juan Guaido’s chal­lenge to so­cial­ist Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro.

Mr. Trump was re­port­edly frus­trated that Mr. Bolton’s ar­gu­ment that the Maduro gov­ern­ment — still cling­ing to power in Cara­cas — would top­ple quickly in the face of U.S. sanc­tions and an oil em­bargo.

“I dis­agreed with John Bolton on his at­ti­tudes on Venezuela,” Mr. Trump said Wed­nes­day. “I thought he was way out of line, and I think I’ve proven to be right.”

Mr. Maduro has been quiet so far, but a se­nior of­fi­cial in the Maduro gov­ern­ment ex­pressed de­light over Mr. Bolton’s ouster.

“On days like this, the Co­man­dante would treat him­self to some sweet pa­paya,” the uniden­ti­fied of­fi­cial told The As­so­ci­ated Press — a ref­er­ence to the late anti-U.S. pop­ulist Pres­i­dent Hugo Chavez’s fond­ness for a tra­di­tional Venezue­lan dessert.

But as with many other is­sues, Mr. Bolton’s de­par­ture leaves ma­jor ques­tions on where U.S. pol­icy on Venezuela goes from here.

“Maduro is likely think­ing ‘good rid­dance’ and that this is sweet revenge for all the ma­cho pos­tur­ing,” said Chris Sa­ba­tini, se­nior fel­low for Latin Amer­ica at Chatham House in Lon­don. “But that would be a mis­take. Bolton’s strat­egy was flawed from the be­gin­ning, and his de­par­ture may pave the way to bring in a more pro­fes­sional, ef­fec­tive diplo­mat that could be a greater threat to Maduro’s au­toc­racy.”


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