Parting shots as hawkish Bolton gets the boot

Top News | AP, AFP 12 Sep 2019

US President Donald Trump has abruptly forced out John Bolton, the hawkish national security adviser with whom he had strong disagreements on Iran, Afghanistan and many other global challenges.

The sudden shake-up marked the latest departure of a prominent voice of dissent from Trump's inner circle as he has grown less accepting of advice contrary to his instincts. It also comes at a trying moment for Trump on the world stage as he faces pressing decisions on difficult foreign policy issues.

Iran President Hassan Rouhani said Washington's "warmongering" was a failure as Teheran welcomed the sacking of Bolton. Rouhani also dismissed the prospect of a meeting with Trump at a time his administration is continuing to slap more crippling sanctions on the Islamic republic.

Russia said it did not expect any improvement in relations with Washington. "We don't think that the presence or dismissal of any single official, even such a senior one, can seriously influence adjustments to American foreign policy," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Tensions between Bolton, Trump's third national security adviser, and other officials have flared in recent months over influence in the president's orbit and how to manage his desire to negotiate with some of the world's most unsavory actors.

Since joining the administration in the spring of last year, Bolton has espoused skepticism about Trump's whirlwind rapprochement with North Korea and recently has become a vocal internal critic of potential talks between Trump and leaders of Iran and Afghanistan's Taleban.

Bolton also broke with Trump with his vocal condemnation of Russia's global aggressions and last year he masterminded a quiet campaign with allies abroad to persuade Trump to keep US forces in Syria to counter the remnants of the Islamic State and Iranian influence in the region.

Bolton's maneuvering contrasted with former defense chief Jim Mattis' decision to instead resign over Trump's withdrawal announcement, which has been effectively reversed.

On Twitter, Trump and Bolton offered opposing accounts on the adviser's less-than-friendly departure, final shots for what had been a fractious relationship almost from the start.

Trump tweeted that he told Bolton on Monday night - US time - his services were no longer needed at the White House and Bolton submitted his resignation on Tuesday morning. Bolton responded in a tweet of his own that he offered to resign on Monday and Trump said, "Let's talk about it tomorrow."

Trump explained that he had disagreed strongly "with many of Bolton's suggestions as national security adviser, as did others in the administration.''

South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, who had been traveling with Trump, said reports of Bolton's opposition to a now-scrapped weekend meeting with the Taleban at Camp David were "a bridge too far'' for Trump.

And one Republican familiar with the disagreements between Trump and Bolton said the adviser's opposition to a possible meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was a precipitating factor.

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