Dick Morris: Bolton Firing May Mark the End of Tough Diplomacy


Worried about job approval ratings that lag consistently below 50 percent, President Donald Trump may be becoming too eager for international triumphs to boost them up.

Facing hard stalemates in our face-offs with Iran, China, Afghanistan and North Korea, Trump — with John Bolton at the NSC — could be counted on to stand his ground and refuse to accept a cosmetic deal that would bolster his ratings, appease his opponents, but accomplish little.

Indeed, the evidence is that, even in the past few weeks, Bolton was instrumental in blocking potential feel-good talks with Iran and the Taliban.

Our adversaries, likely, follow Trump’s job approval numbers as obsessively as he reportedly does.

They know he is hurting because he can’t vault over the 50 percent threshold.  They realize that the change in presidential mood is turning the traffic light for talks from red to yellow and then to green.

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Realizing how badly Trump needs victorious photo ops — particularly to assuage white, college-educated, suburban women who fear new military involvements — they are likely to drive a hard bargain.

Does Bolton’s harsh firing presage a White House willing to accommodate them even at the price of weakening our position?

The presidential invitation to the Taliban to come to Camp David on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks they enabled, may reflect this weakening of Trump’s resolve.

In our negotiations with the Taliban, the U.S. position is simply that our adversaries must promise — most earnestly and sincerely — not to harbor terrorists or to let their territory be used as base for attacks on American or NATO targets. In other words, not to what they did 18 years ago.

In return, we are going to withdraw all of our troops, ending any leverage we might have had to protect women and children from the savage ravages of Taliban governance. And why should we trust the Taliban to keep its word?

Americans have died at their hands. Half of Afghanistan remains in Taliban control.

The peace they want Trump to sign is a peace of defeat, letting down the memory of the thousands of coalition troops who died to change this beleaguered country and stop it from becoming a base for terrorism.

Bolton would never support a deal like that and doubtless played a role in forcing Trump to cancel his Camp David invitation.

Similarly, Bolton probably helped to stop the possible pow-wow between Iran’s president and our chief executive. Trump has been laudably tough and unyielding with Iran and the policy is paying big dividends as Teheran collapses.

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But without Bolton, will the pressures of the campaign lead the president to make show compromises and phony settlements to get good photo ops?

Will Trump still be Trump without Bolton?

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Dick Morris is a former adviser to President Bill Clinton as well as a political author, pollster and consultant. His most recent book, "50 Shades of Politics," was written with his wife, Eileen McGann.