Until today, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster was considered Trump's most militant adviser on North Korea.
We asked our brain trust to weigh in on the news—and what it means for Iran, North Korea, and national security in general:
- John McLaughlin, former Acting Director of CIA: “Trump will now be surrounded by people with very similar views on key issues such as Bolton and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who he’s nominated to replace Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. This can be a problem and can close off options unless Bolton rises to the occasion as a national security advisor — whose principal job is always to tease out a range of views and present them fairly to the president and lay out the pros and cons of each option.”
- Mary Beth Long, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and former CIA officer: “John Bolton is certainly neither an outsider to Washington or to foreign policy, and is well known for his conservative views, having honed his skills at State Department. John has experience in international organizations and arms control, and his last post, as U.S Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, provided him first-hand experience negotiating with the Russians and Chinese. He generally is considered a hawk. On North Korea, he seems particularly realistic about the limitations on our ability to dissuade Kim Jung Un from advancing his nuclear and missile programs.”
- Ambassador Joseph DeTrani, former U.S. Special Envoy for Negotiations with North Korea: “I think Trump’s appointment of Mike Pompeo to State and now John Bolton as national security advisor sends a clear message to Iran and certainly to North Korea that senior advisors to the president are not happy with the way things have been going for the past few years. In these two senior positions, you’re going to find two very proactive advisors who believe we can’t be patient with these sorts of developments—we have to be more proactive in addressing and resolving them to the interests of the United States and our allies.”
- Norman Roule, former senior CIA Mideast official and National Intelligence Manager for Iran: “John Bolton arrives with the reputation as a hawk who reportedly (and repeatedly) clashed with subordinates and intelligence officials whose views differed from this own…. We need to remember that whatever lays in store for Iran, Tehran brought this on itself. The Iran nuclear deal gave Tehran the opportunity to become a responsible country. It responded with an expansion of its domestic missile program, detentions of westerners, an unprecedented proliferation of advanced missile technology and Revolutionary Guard operations.”