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: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 537813

Reported Deaths: 11024
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson791691529
Mobile41177808
Madison35002507
Tuscaloosa25871454
Shelby25076249
Montgomery24549591
Baldwin21290309
Lee15946171
Calhoun14556319
Morgan14364280
Etowah13890353
Marshall12262223
Houston10602282
Elmore10115206
Limestone10031151
St. Clair9890245
Cullman9730194
Lauderdale9449243
DeKalb8853188
Talladega8325176
Walker7259277
Autauga6971108
Jackson6830112
Blount6750139
Colbert6317134
Coffee5546119
Dale4869113
Russell444338
Chilton4343113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4040152
Escambia394577
Chambers3581123
Dallas3564153
Clarke351361
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302298
Winston275673
Bibb263064
Geneva252577
Marengo249664
Pickens234862
Barbour231956
Hale223677
Butler217869
Fayette212462
Henry189644
Cherokee184345
Randolph182042
Monroe178140
Washington167639
Macon160750
Clay156957
Crenshaw153357
Cleburne149241
Lamar143035
Lowndes139653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123041
Conecuh110629
Coosa108928
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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