Connect with us

Politics

John Bolton firing sets stage for Trump redo Iran policy, push to meet

Published

on

Firing John Bolton as his national security adviser has freed President Donald Trump to pursue his unconventional brand of deal-making around the world — a shift which could bring swift and drastic repercussions.

One consequence — according to comments Tuesday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo— could be an unprecedented meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at next week’s UN General Assembly.

Bolton’s departure came after months of clear signs that his worldview — that the US should robustly and unilaterally exercise its military, diplomatic and economic power around the world — differed wildly from Trump’s self-professed love of deal-making, apparently driven mostly by instinct.

Read more: Iranian official mocks John Bolton after he’s ousted from Trump’s White House

The men repeatedly clashed— with a level of publicity rare for national security deliberations — over Bolton’s pursuit of hardline stances on a slew of issues. A few:

It appears these repeated conflicts over policy, along with Bolton’s famed willingness to engage in ruthless bureaucratic maneuvering, ended the tenure of Trump’s third national security adviser in three years.

It also set the stage for what could be the strangest and most risky political gambit of his administration so far: Direct talks between the US and Iranian presidents.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and US President Donald Trump.
Sergei Chirikov/Pool via REUTERS; GOL/Capital Pictures/MediaPunch/AP

Although specifics have not been formally set, well-informed White House reporters were floating the prospect of the meeting, a possibility confirmed by Pompeo.

Read more: Pompeo just defeated Bolton in the war to be Trump’s top adviser on foreign policy

With a slowing economy, and few major policy successes to his name beyond a tax cuts and Supreme Court appointments, Trump could certainly use a political breakthrough with Iran for his 2020 campaign. All the better if it can be contrasted with the 2015 nuclear deal struck by the Obama administration.

But Iran hardliners make up a substantial portion of Trump’s political bedrock whom he would risk upsetting. This group includes those who are the staunch allies of Israel, Iran’s biggest foe in the region.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-US National Security Advisor John Bolton deliver joint statements in Jerusalem in June 2019.
safrir Abayov/Pool via REUTERS

Any meeting that occurs without Bolton’s hardline and deep experience with trying to have Iran bombed will likely worry these supporters deeply.

In Israel itself, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu f aces the most perilous election of his career next week. He has long flaunted his close relationship with Trump, and is one of the few US allies to unambiguously embrace the president.

Direct talks with Iran by an American president desperate for a public win would deeply unsettle this key political and diplomatic base of Trump.

The White House still contains advisers, like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who have long held hardline views on Iran. However, Pompeo has made it a signature of his tenure to avoid at all costs clashing with Trump, a contrast with his predecessor Rex Tillerson.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, on Tuesday.
Reuters

Netanyahu’s announcement that he would annex the Jordan River Valley, which is about a third of the occupied West Bank, came just as the Bolton’s departure was announced.

That move, immediately lauded by many on the Israeli right, gives wavering supporters a potential consolation prize if Trump abandons a hard line on Iran.

Read more: Meet John Bolton, an architect of the Iraq War who just got fired from his job as Trump’s National Security Adviser

It’s unclear, however, if this would be enough for Israel’s most hardcore supporters in the US, who also provide Trump with his most stable political allies.

(It is also far from certain that an Israeli annexation would work — the UN responded by saying that any annexation would have no standing in international law.)

How this base would respond to Trump attempting to renegotiate the nuclear treaty with the Iranians without Bolton and other like-minded hawks is far from certain.

What is clear, however, is that Trump has now cleared the way to try and deal with Iran, and other opponents like North Korea, completely on his own terms.

Continue Reading
Advertisement Find your dream job

Trending