BREAKING NEWS Finally Feeling Like Fall Full Story

World wary as Trump turns to hardliners Bolton and Pompeo

President Donald Trump's decision to bring on ...

Posted: Mar 25, 2018 7:47 AM
Updated: Mar 25, 2018 7:47 AM

President Donald Trump's decision to bring on John Bolton as national security adviser jolted the usually careful diplomatic world enough that a few unusually frank adjectives slipped out.

"Worrisome," said one South Korean official. Japan's foreign minister admitted he was "a bit surprised."

The famously hawkish Bolton will become part of a new trio advising and guiding Trump as he navigates unprecedented talks with North Korea, his possible departure from the Iran nuclear deal, and increased tension with Moscow and Beijing.

Bolton, a former State Department official and ambassador to the UN, could be joined, pending confirmation, by Gina Haspel, a career CIA officer who has been nominated to lead the agency, and the current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who has been tapped to lead the State Department

Haspel remains something of a cipher to the public, but Pompeo's tenure as a lawmaker established him as a hardliner who advocated for bombing Iran even as negotiations on the international nuclear deal were ongoing.

That history, along with Bolton's advocacy for military interventions in North Korea and Iran, his dismissal of diplomacy and disdain for international law, has led some to warn that Trump will now be surrounded by the most hardline team to shape US foreign policy in years.

The world reacted with caution and some dismay.

In one quarter, there was warm praise.

But at the UN, the place where Bolton is perhaps best known because of his tenure as ambassador from 2005 to 2006, officials chose their words with extremely diplomatic care, with some issuing veiled warnings about the need to defend the institution and its cooperative, collaborative ideals.

Richard Gowan, a UN analyst at Columbia University, had an explanation. "The UN is in considerable trouble," Gowan said. "Bolton does not merely dislike the UN. He knows the organization rather too well for comfort."

"A club for people to get together"

With Trump already pre-disposed to dislike the UN -- he referred to it as "just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time" -- Gowan said Bolton could deepen cuts the Trump administration has already made to its regular budget and peacekeeping operations and perhaps go even further.

"He will likely press [US Ambassador to the UN Nikki] Haley and Pompeo to find ways to weaken the UN quite drastically and decisively," Gowan said, "rather than merely trimming its budgets."

A UN Security Council diplomat hedged on Pompeo's impact at the State Department, but added, "an appointment of John Bolton ... that would change the question."

UN diplomats were more careful on the record. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who defended the institution against some of Bolton's broadsides in 2006, said Friday that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres "had developed a very constructive and positive relationship" with outgoing national security adviser H.R. McMaster. "and he looks forward to continuing that relationship with Ambassador Bolton."

Reporters asked Dujarric to respond to some of Bolton's more pointed criticisms of the UN. The lawyer and Fox News commentator has said there's "no such thing" as the United Nations, that if the headquarters lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a difference, and that it would be a mistake to grant validity to international law.

"Look, we will leave analysis of past statements to journalists and historians," Dujarric said. "We're not going to speculate about the future, we're dealing with the present. And as I said, the secretary general looks forward to continuing the kind of relationship he had with the national security adviser with the new one."

When asked about Bolton's appointment, Sigrid Kaag, the Netherlands' minister of foreign trade, told reporters that, "we remained firmly anchored in multilateralism as a way to solve most burning and pertinent issues today, in the past, and in the future."

UK Deputy Ambassador to the UN Jonathan Allen was asked if Bolton's appointment was going to test multilateralism, given his hostile views.

"The US and the UK have long been close allies and friends," Allen said without mentioning Bolton's name. "That will continue and endure."

Among Asian allies, dealing with an increasingly assertive China, the prospect of a trade war as Trump levies tariffs against Beijing, and an unpredictable North Korea, there was some concern.

"This is worrisome news," Kim Hack-yong, a conservative South Korean lawmaker who heads his parliament's national defense committee, told Reuters.

Bolton's views on Pyongyang were most recently on display in a February 28 commentary that laid out what he called a "perfectly legitimate" case for a pre-emptive strike against North Korea. It used an example from 1837 as the basis for his justification and made no mention of the thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Koreans who would die in the event of a US military attack and North Korean reprisal.

"A bit surprised"

Kim was among many observers who worried about the repercussions if planned May talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un don't go well.

"If Bolton takes office and talks with North Korea go haywire and yield bad results, I don't know what we'll do then," Kim told Reuters. "Any turns in a negative direction could mean all our work over the years to engage North Korea could turn to dust."

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said he was "a bit surprised" that former national security adviser H.R. McMaster was out, given that he'd just met him the week before in Washington. That said, Kono told the Japan Times that he didn't expect big changes given the "complete agreement" between Washington and Tokyo.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, offered the Japan Times a very careful and caveated assessment. "We have been closely exchanging views with the US government, both between leaders and at the working level, so we don't think there will be any particular negative influence."

There was no reaction from North Korea, which in 2003 felt free to blast Bolton as "human scum" and a "bloodsucker."

In 2006, Bolton was working with the Security Council on North Korea resolutions after illegal missile and nuclear tests. At one meeting the North Korea representative walked out on the Council, which Bolton compared to former Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev pounding his shoe on a desk in the General Assembly when upset.

Middle Eastern reaction was clearly divided. Across the region, countries are waiting to see whether Trump will walk away from the nuclear deal with Iran on May 12, the day he has to continue to waive sanctions on Tehran or pull the IS out of the agreement. Trump has set that day as a deadline for US and European negotiators to find a way to change the deal.

In Iran, the spokesman of the powerful Guardian Council pointed to Bolton's ties with a group that opposes the government in Tehran, and said it showed Washington's continued support for terrorist groups operating against Iran. "Now the question is why Bolton has been assumed to a sensitive position," he wrote in a piece for the semi-official Fars News service.

The Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar, aligned with the Shi'ite militant group and political movement Hezbollah, used the headline "Zionist Hawk in the White House," to alert readers to Bolton's new job, Reuters reported.

But in Israel, Bolton's ascension was greeted as happy news. Naftali Bennett, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet, hailed Bolton as "an extraordinary security expert, experienced diplomat and a stalwart friend of Israel."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 497790

Reported Deaths: 9917
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34102530
DeSoto31839398
Hinds31837622
Jackson24314377
Rankin21881388
Lee15427234
Madison14525279
Jones13772241
Forrest13412250
Lauderdale11937314
Lowndes10934185
Lamar10470135
Pearl River9431237
Lafayette8454138
Hancock7697126
Washington7365156
Oktibbeha7111129
Monroe6727174
Warren6642176
Pontotoc6609101
Neshoba6606205
Panola6460131
Marshall6386132
Bolivar6266145
Union596094
Pike5784152
Alcorn5633101
Lincoln5417134
George491879
Scott470998
Tippah465381
Prentiss464181
Leflore4627143
Itawamba4596104
Adams4570119
Tate4546109
Copiah445191
Simpson4421116
Wayne438572
Yazoo438586
Covington427394
Marion4216107
Sunflower4215104
Coahoma4115104
Leake407787
Newton380879
Grenada3692108
Stone358464
Tishomingo356391
Attala330289
Jasper328265
Winston313191
Clay306375
Chickasaw296767
Clarke290694
Calhoun277945
Holmes266987
Smith262550
Yalobusha232647
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217763
Greene215548
Lawrence211140
Perry204755
Amite203954
Webster201645
Noxubee185340
Montgomery179056
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167438
Tunica158639
Benton147438
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131237
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 813481

Reported Deaths: 15179
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1139971910
Mobile722271323
Madison51970686
Shelby37279341
Baldwin37069540
Tuscaloosa34934599
Montgomery33953725
Lee23142240
Calhoun22142470
Morgan20639372
Etowah19758496
Marshall18245300
Houston17302405
St. Clair15912337
Cullman15306290
Limestone15202198
Elmore15075284
Lauderdale14143294
Talladega13715272
DeKalb12569259
Walker11085366
Blount10094174
Autauga9893146
Jackson9789180
Coffee9182189
Dale8859181
Colbert8789200
Tallapoosa7044195
Escambia6732127
Covington6682179
Chilton6587160
Russell625958
Franklin5930105
Chambers5559142
Marion4955126
Dallas4882199
Clarke472782
Pike4719105
Geneva4564126
Winston4473101
Lawrence4264117
Bibb421686
Barbour355475
Marengo334089
Monroe330262
Randolph327063
Butler324794
Pickens313882
Henry310965
Hale309187
Cherokee299957
Fayette290679
Washington250951
Cleburne246958
Crenshaw243575
Clay240367
Macon230562
Lamar215846
Conecuh185652
Coosa178538
Lowndes173761
Wilcox167438
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131038
Greene125544
Choctaw86927
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 70°
Columbus
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 70°
Oxford
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 68°
Starkville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 68°
A cold front passing through our area overnight will bring into our area some of the coolest temperatures of the season so far. We will see most of the highs this weekend only in the upper 60s to lower 70s. While overnight lows will drop off down into the 40s Saturday night.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather