Trump Loads the Bolton Bullet

Mar 27, 2018 | 17:40 GMT

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton leaves a meeting in Trump Tower in December 2016.

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton leaves a meeting in Trump Tower in December 2016. Bolton's appointment to replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser -- on the heels of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's replacement with Mike Pompeo -- raises the threat of U.S. military action against North Korea and Iran alike.

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


  • Although the U.S. administration is taking steps to avoid an all-out trade war, President Donald Trump's selection of like-minded hard-liners to craft foreign policy raises the threat of military action in multiple regions around the world.
  • The White House is using the threat of a military strike to try to negotiate the deal of the century with North Korea while also opting, alongside Israel, for a confrontation with Iran.
  • Newly designated national security adviser John Bolton will lend credence to the argument in the White House that nuclear rogues must be prevented at any cost, but the constraints to military action, much less regime change, in North Korea and Iran are immense.

Analyzing personality to predict policy is a limited endeavor. But the concentration of hawks and the winnowing of pragmatists in the White House have the effect of bending constraints and raising tolerance to risk on high-stakes issues. As a result, we must lay any baseline, constraint-laden forecast we make against the personalities charged with making fateful political decisions....

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