John Bolton is out: Where does that leave US foreign policy?

US President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he had fired his national security adviser, saying they “strongly disagreed” on major issues.

Bolton disputed Trump’s version of events, however, saying he resigned.

Regardless of how it happened, Bolton, a leading foreign policy hawk, is now out of the administration.

Bolton took over the role of national security adviser in April 2018. He was a surprise pick at the time, with a world view seemingly ill-fit to the president’s isolationist “America First” pronouncements.

Trump had sometimes joked about Bolton’s image as a warmonger, reportedly saying in one Oval Office meeting that “John has never seen a war he doesn’t like”.

Prior to becoming Trump’s national security adviser, Bolton was a Fox News commentator. He served as the US ambassador to the UN from August 2005 to December 2006 and undersecretary of state from 2001 to 2005.

Bolton also served under the administrations of former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush.

As Bolton departs the Trump White House, here’s a look at where he stood on key issues and what his departure may mean for the future of US foreign policy.


Bolton had opposed a recent State Department plan to sign an Afghan peace deal with the Taliban, believing the group’s leaders could not be trusted. That opposition pinned Bolton against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Individuals familiar with his view said Bolton believed the US could draw down to about 8,600 troops in Afghanistan and maintain a counterterrorism effort without signing a peace deal with the Taliban. There are roughly about 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan now.

Bolton, who was reportedly excluded from some White House meetings about Afghanistan, strongly opposed Trump’s now-scrapped notion to bring Taliban negotiators to Camp David last weekend. Trump has since declared the US-Taliban talks “dead”, citing a Kabul attack by the Taliban that killed 12, including one US soldier.

Senator Lindsey Graham, who was travelling with Trump on Monday, said reports of Bolton’s dissent on the Taliban meeting was a “bridge too far” for Trump.

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