While debate ensues over whether President Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton resigned or was fired, the bottom line is: Bolton is out of the White House. This is President Trump’s fourth national security advisor to leave the position—voluntarily or otherwise. “It’s unclear for those of us on the outside precisely what led to this major development,” says Javed Ali, Towsley Policymaker in Residence at the Ford School and former senior director of the Trump Administration’s National Security Council, during an interview with radio station KNX In Depth on September 10.
Bolton and President Trump have had months of deep disagreement surrounding approaches to U.S. foreign policy. “This is an indication of the friction between him and the president on a range of national security and foreign policy issues, whether it be Afghanistan, Iran, China, North Korea, if those reports are true,” Ali said.
In comparison to former Trump Administration staff, Ambassador Bolton’s viewpoints are extremely polarized, and may be an indication of his imminent demise in the White House. General McMaster, who served as national security advisor during Ali’s service in the NSC under the Trump Administration, had starkly different views compared to Bolton. “If you compare General McMaster to Bolton in terms of their backgrounds, personalities, their outlook on a range of topics, I think they were two very different individuals, almost diametrically opposed” Ali said.
Bolton’s ousting could allow Trump to move forward with his own national security approach and agenda, without the restrictions of Bolton’s conflicting diplomacy viewpoints. Ali asserts, “If the press reports about the friction between them are true and that Ambassador Bolton was advocating for a position that was at odds with the President—who seems to be inclined to sit out our military presence in a place like Afghanistan, actually be open to some kind of dialogue with the regime in Tehran—that might lead to more developments on those fronts, as opposed to the more conservative or hawkish positions of Ambassador Bolton.”
Listen to the full interview here.
Javed Ali is a Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence at the Ford School for fall 2019, teaching "National Security Council and Counterterrorism" and co-teaching "Cybersecurity for Future Leaders." A former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council, Ali has over 20 years of professional experience in national security and intelligence issues in Washington, D.C., serving in the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While at the FBI, he also held senior positions on joint duty assignments at the National Intelligence Council, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the National Security Council under the Trump Administration.