Tuesday morning in D.C. was humming along like any other day, complete with lies, chicanery and disdain for the American people, when suddenly President Donald Trump announced his firing of National Security Adviser John Bolton.
Many traditional conservatives will blanch at the move, having viewed Bolton as a foreign policy hawk and realist who would help check Trump’s perceived tendency to negotiate when the threat or use of force was actually needed.
Even pro-Trump conservatives may stumble a little as they try to process the firing of an unquestionably competent and insightful patriot.
But, as is always the case, the president is playing 3-D chess while the establishment is barely playing 2-D checkers.
Trump confirmed in the tweet announcing the move that he and Bolton strongly disagreed on many of Trump’s suggestions (read “ideas”).
….I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2019
No news there. Bolton is a realist on foreign policy. Trump is amorphous on foreign policy, preferring negotiation to coercion. He’s not an idealist but might as well be to a hard-lined realist like Bolton.
Trump’s foreign policy should strongly appeal to a left that is feigning fatigue when it comes to international conflict.
The president has repeatedly rejected the idea of foreign military intervention that doesn’t achieve measurable strategic gains for the United States.
He campaigned on ending conflict. It’s easy to imagine any Democrat candidate for any office over the last, say, 12 years saying the same things.
But since the media and left have taken the position that anything with Trump’s fingerprints is poison, they can’t very well praise his foreign policy convictions.
So what did Trump do? He hired as national security adviser H.R. McMaster (Michael Flynn’s tenure was too short to even consider here), who articulated “principled realism,” the idea that we should revert from former President Barack Obama’s silly “lead from behind” foreign policy (if it could even be called that) and return to the traditionally muscular U.S. position of deterrence — making sure that other states and organizations know that flouting the United States’ warnings in international affairs will have disastrous consequences.
That having been articulated, Trump let McMaster go, replacing him with Bolton. Bolton, a realist’s realist, believes in the idea of deterrence and is also a hawk’s hawk.
If McMaster restored the idea of deterrence, Bolton was to restore the backbone for deterrence. And he did. His appointment sent a shudder through the international community and the American establishment media.
Now, having demonstrated that he wants deterrence back and is willing to use someone like Bolton to put teeth to it, Trump can take a strategic step back and clear his plate to deal with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un his way, which is certainly not Bolton’s way.
Military intervention in North Korea is certainly possible, but Trump knows the country has no stomach for a prolonged conflict in the region.
He also knows that a misbehaving, nuclear North Korea is a far bigger issue to China and Southeast Asia than to the United States.
China doesn’t want more nuclear powers in the region, and an unchecked Kim almost certainly would cause the neighborhood to go nuclear.
Instead of a conflict Americans don’t want, the president thinks he can negotiate his way through the conflict, sparing American blood and treasure. And he may be right.
Trump isn’t just a negotiator. He’s a deal maker. In his past life as a developer, Trump had to get builders, bureaucrats, real estate agents and even mafia types on the same page if he was to get anything done. He learned deal-making in the most intense school in the world — Manhattan development.
The president sees a lot of common interests among the U.S., China, North Korea and Southeast Asia in general.
None wants a badly behaved North Korea. None wants a starving North Korea. And none wants an isolated North Korea. Trump is convinced that guiding Kim out of his infantile petulance and into reasoned cooperation is the way to solve the Korean dilemma. He also knows how important face-saving is in the Asian world.
Trump has fired a national security adviser the media and left always hated. If they attack him on that, he has them.
Trump has adopted a strategy of negotiation over the use of force, which the media and left always prefer. If they attack him on that, Trump has them.
Trump continues to restore America’s traditional strategy of deterrence, which the media hates, but he’s more interested in winning the day via diplomacy, which the media love. If they attack him on that, Trump has them.
Trump has corralled the media and the left, leaving absolutely no legitimate angle of attack, and the more illegitimate angles they use, the more Americans they push toward Trump.
At the same time, the president is setting up to fix the Korean situation his way, which, frankly, we should allow him to at least try.
Have fun attacking all of this, media. Your attacks will only make Trump and his cadre that much stronger.
I hate seeing Bolton go. I’ve met him and he’s simultaneously once of the most hard-nosed realists in the world and one of the seemingly most humble people I’ve ever met. He’s a good man and a great patriot.
His time in the Trump administration has been good for the country. What Trump will do moving forward without Bolton will also be good for the country. And that’s more important than who serves where.
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