{{featured_button_text}}

It wasn’t news that President Trump and his national security adviser John R. Bolton often disagreed.

The difference of opinion now extends to whether Trump accepted Bolton’s offer to resign (Bolton’s story) or Trump “asked John for his resignation” (as Trump tweeted).

In any case, Bolton’s departure shows how ridiculous it was for Trump to suggest that he was comfortable with a “team of rivals” approach in which advisers would present him with a variety of opinions and Trump, without taking umbrage, would choose the best option.

Michael McGough mug

Michael McGough

It takes a decisive and firmly grounded leader like President Lincoln to make that work, but Trump is no Lincoln.

“There is no infighting whatsoever,” Trump said in a May 15 tweet about reports of dissension in the administration about Iran policy. “Different opinions are expressed and I make a decisive and final decision — it is a very simple process.”

But apparently Bolton was too eager to offer “different opinions,” including on Iran, where his bellicosity ran up against both the president’s on-again, off-again reluctance to use military force and his penchant for spontaneous personal diplomacy.

Trump, to put it charitably, has sent mixed signals about Iran.

Following through on campaign rhetoric about “the worst deal ever negotiated,” he repudiated the 2015 international agreement that placed limits on Iran’s nuclear program and has pursued a policy of “maximum pressure” on the Islamic Republic through economic sanctions.

You have free articles remaining.

Become a Member

Register for more free articles.
Stay logged in to skip the surveys.

The result of that policy has been a fissure with the United States’ European allies and statements by Iran that it feels free not to comply with parts of the agreement.

But Trump also has expressed interest in a “no hard feelings” approach to Iran reminiscent of his courtship of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

In May, amid tensions over fears in Washington that Iran might attack U.S. forces in Iraq and the Persian Gulf, the president said: “What I’d like to see with Iran, I’d like to see them call me,” adding: “We can make a deal, a fair deal ... . We’re not looking to hurt Iran.”

So, should critics who worry about escalating tensions with Iran welcome Bolton’s departure? Does his firing presage a shift away from a hard line toward Tehran to a more nuanced policy?

Not necessarily.

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, who apparently remains in Trump’s good graces, is also a hawk on Iran. Trump arguably broke with Pompeo as well as with Bolton when he asked Iranian leaders to “call me.”

Moreover, like other presidents, Trump feels free to overrule even advisers he is happy to keep on board. The difference is that when he makes what he calls “a decisive and final decision,” he often isn’t operating on the basis of serious reflection or expert information. (Think not only of Iran policy but of Trump’s seeming skepticism about the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.)

That combination of carelessness and capriciousness will continue to haunt U.S. foreign policy regardless of who replaces Bolton.

Be the first to know - Sign up for Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Michael McGough is the Los Angeles Times’ senior editorial writer, based in Washington, D.C.

0
0
0
0
0

(13) comments

Rick Czeczok

Great to see you guys defecated in your own socialist sounding board nest... No one reads this anymore as you made it such a poisonous place. I love it killed your own messenger. Physics you are such a liar and a fake. Good thing wifey takes care of you HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

oldhomey

Well, once again you prove to be mistaken about what you see, Ricky, about the terrible excrement and b.s. that has littered these boards. Those were the deposits posted here by right wingers on these boards, Ricky. Several of us have worked tirelessly to clean up and sanitize these boards with the truth, and perhaps we are succeeding. You have not been all that guilty in leaving behind the stench and filth of right-wing untruths, as apparently you are not smart enough to formulate falsified information -- or even, like new2, simply cut and paste this foul and fetid filth from Fox News. You are capable of only objectionably and ignorantly running off at the mouth with offensively stupid gibes against people with whom you disagree. But it appears that perhaps some of the right-wing stalwarts here have become wary of posting because they discover their lying no longer carries the day, making it difficult for them to argue. Ah well, we will always have Ricky, new2, bozo, Climate, A Veteran (of no known military unit) and other fourth-rate folks on here listening to themselves talk without reason.

Rick Czeczok

You have to love how these socialist have to stick together. Sticking up for the drug induced rants that Jonny makes, shows just how messed up these socialist activist are. It is a sign of things to come if you vote for the socialist party that once was the democratic party.


oldhomey

You have to love how Ricky lives so vividly within his own imagination. Too bad it is such a wretched, corrupt imagination. But that is just Ricky, I guess.

Cassandra2

And now Trump wants to offer a $15 billion olive branch to the Iranians. And the wingnuts are silent.

oldhomey

I think Bolton and Pompeo are excellent candidates for faculty appointments, fully tenured, to the now disgraced and disbanded Trump University. The Trump core voters would gladly spend big bucks, I am sure, to listen to these two lecture online about the virtues of political loyalty to a disgraceful leader who has proven over and over again he would throw either under a bus without a second thought. And both are SUCH meritorious individuals in their own right!

johnnybragatti

Excellent written article-report and a severe reminder just how dangerous The Orange Carcass really is. Which liar do ya'll want to believe? gotta go with Bolten,who bolted ,on this one. Not many folks out there, in any busines level, can out-do the Orange Carcass in the lying department. He leads the American league,,,,, in unadulterated bullkrap.

Comment deleted.
johnnybragatti

Yeah dudesickle, the Orange Scumbag Carcass has only had 60 and working on 600 firings,resignations and walkout. Ya'll need to take a comprehension reading class, perhaps at the Senior Center. There ain't that many geezer dummies like you, on this post. Ya'll gotta feel really lonely. You poor ,very old and double demented sap.

Rick Czeczok

Phsyco-physics I don't believe there is a school board on this earth that would have let you teach children. You are a fake, probably a nut sitting behind bars pretending to be something or somebody, that would be my guess. And I forgot you say you are married to a Dr. yeah right. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA




PhysicsIsFun

Nice job RickyBoy. Try to get your ridiculous insults in the right place. I know it is tough for someone with diminished capacity to keep it together, but try. What's it like to be such a joke? I love your non grammatical, misspelled, illogical, lowbrow, incorrect insults. If you think they are effective you are deluded. You're the joke, and a big one.

oldhomey

By the way, Ricky, since you are now claiming Physics is lying about being a teacher, perhaps you will finally come clean with your claims of having taught for 13 years? What did you teach, and where did you teach. That should not be too hard for a self-declared truth seeker such as yourself. C'mon, Ricky. 'fess up on this. The truth always makes you feel better about yourself.

Comment deleted.
PhysicsIsFun

RickyBoy yeah all presidents have change in their cabinets and advisors, but Trump has set a record in that department. No one who disagrees with him lasts. Plus he appoints incompetent sociopaths to many positions, and they get found out and forced to resign. He also appoints people with no actual expertise to positions that they fail at. He "knows the best people" appears to be just as ridiculous as his other assertions. If you didn't take drugs then you apparently are just naturally stupid.

Comment deleted.
Cassandra2

Tribune moderators, why do you not ban the Comrade for his constant slander and accusations of drug use against others?

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.