John Bolton’s departure from the post of National Security Advisor was welcomed with a sigh of relief by some, if not many, especially Iran.
Bolton was known as a hawk in US political circles and beyond and was even more hawkish when it came to Iran.
US President Donald Trump, for all his inflammatory comments, is reluctant to use the US military muscle unless in dire circumstances.
Trump is basically a businessman, that’s his background and that’s how he is managing US policy in most cases.
On the other hand, Bolton, is not and on many occasions expressed the desire to use America’s military muscle.
Like Bolton, Trump is also sceptical of international institutions like the United Nations and prefers to take a unilateral approach, but this is where similarities end.
Bolton comes from a very different background.
He started his political career during the Reagan years where he quickly became known for his hawkish views especially regarding international institutions and ironically in 2005 ended up serving as US ambassador to the United Nations where he was known for his constant criticism of the international institution.
It was Bolton who had pushed the belief that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction and which served as the main justification for US invasion of that country.
Over the years Bolton has had some controversial stances.
In 2015, he penned an editorial in the New York Times entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”
He has previously advocated for regime change in Venezuela, Iraq, North Korea, Libya and Syria, to name a few. He was also the most vocal critics of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
In Bolton’s appointment Trump had given him free hand on dealing with Iran. A decision he was quick to regret when the situation started to get out of hand and the drums of war started beating.
A situation developed within the White House where on one hand you have President Trump trying to reach out to Iran and calm the situation and on the other hand Bolton issuing harsh statements directed towards Iran.
His attitude also put him in direct confrontation with the State Department, something not totally new in Bolton’s past career.
He was also totally against any sort of agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan’s conflict and it seems this was the final straw for Trump resulting in Bolton’s dismissal. This followed criticism and harsh words targeting another country constantly in Bolton’s firing line: North Korea.
With Bolton gone, the mantle of ‘Iran hawk’ now passes to Pompeo. But, unlike Bolton, Pompeo seems to have prioritized his relationship with President Trump and hence greater coordination on the matter is to be expected. The Secretary of State has no personal agenda regarding Iran and the ball is now in Trump’s court.
Tonio Galea, heads the GeoPolitical research unit of CiConsulta and Editor of Corporate Dispatch.