President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he fired National Security Adviser John Bolton over strong disagreements on a range of issues. He was appointed in March 2018 to replace General H.R. McMaster.
“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” the president tweeted. “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore…”
“I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service,” he added in a second tweet to the thread. “I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week.”
Mr. Bolton, a more foreign policy hawk and former Ambassador to the United Nations, is insisting he resigned. He also indicated his offer was not immediately accepted by the president.
“I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow.'”
A White House official said the differences on issues, particularly Afghanistan and Iran, were too great. Mr. Bolton was allegedly unhappy over talk of the president inviting the Taliban to Camp David to resume peace talks, and the apparent willingness to meet with Iran.
To be sure, Mr. Bolton was not on board with the president’s goal of withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Since the start of his administration, the president has found it challenging to end the nation’s longest war without opposition from his own party and advisors.
The removal of H.R. McMaster was an expected move meant to shift the Trump Administration back toward structural realism and economic nationalism. A similar situation played out with General James Mattis, who served as secretary of defense.
In early 2018, President Trump told his national security team in the Situation Room that U.S. troops must come home from Syria. The primary objective, at least publicly, had been the defeat of ISIS, or the Islamic State.
He then ordered the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to shutdown Operation Timber Sycamore, a covert operation authorized by Barack Obama that ultimately aided in the creation and rise of ISIS.
These decisions were made without the consent or the support of his more hawkish advisors, to include then-Secretary Mattis, who along with many in the Trump Administration disagreed with the decision and feared a similar announcement regarding Afghanistan was imminent.
The civil war in Syria was being used as a predicate for regime change to remove President Bashar al-Assad.
There are roughly 14,000 U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan, most of whom are part of the seemingly never-ending NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces.
The U.S. has spent more than $1 trillion on military operations, more than $100 billion on “nation-building,” or funding and training an army of 350,000 Afghan soldiers. Roughly 2,400 U.S. soldiers have lost their lives.
The longest war in U.S. history began almost immediately after the attacks on September 11, 2001. President Trump has long-criticized continued U.S. involvement, and as a candidate campaigned on prioritizing the rise in illicit drug trades over foreign intervention.
The annual opium survey from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for 2017 found a record high 9,000 metric tons for the year, rising 87% compared with 2016.