President Trump is looking for his fourth National Security Adviser in less than three years following the departure of John Bolton on Tuesday, just 18 months after taking the job.
The debate continues as to whether Bolton resigned (as he claims) or whether he was fired, as Trump insists. More importantly, what impact did Bolton have on the Trump administration? Why was the proposed meeting with the Taliban at Camp David the final straw?
Former Pentagon official Jed Babbin believes Bolton was trying to influence Trump in the right direction.
“He was a hard liner and trying to restrain Mr. Trump’s straying off of America’s best interests,” said Babbin, who served as a deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration.
“I would think that a lot of the things you saw, in respect to Iran in particular, with Mr. Trump going ahead with a very hard line against Iran is certainly due to Bolton,” added Babbin.
As mentioned in Trump’s tweets announcing Bolton’s departure, the president and Bolton disagreed about many policies, most recently whether to hold a summit with the Taliban at Camp David. Trump scuttled the meeting after a terrorist attack killed an American service member, but seemed very much in favor of the idea while reports show Bolton adamantly opposed it.
Babbin says the meeting was a “horrid” idea.
“First off, we did not have an agreement. You don’t bring the president in to sign the outline of an agreement, which was apparently Mr. Trump’s idea that he would get together with the Taliban to do,” said Babbin, who also blasted the negotiations with the Taliban to this point.
“Number two, you have to have preconditions to any negotiation really. When (lead U.S. negotiator) Zalmay Khalilzad went in there without first demanding a cease-fire in Afghanistan that lasted more than ten minutes, that was a huge mistake,” said Babbin.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Babbin’s assessment of Trump’s approach to North Korea and what kind of successor to Bolton is likely to emerge. Babbin also explains why it “beats the snot out of me” what the Trump approach to foreign policy actually is.