US President Trump’s former National Security Advisor has criticized the administration’s approach to North Korea’s nuclear program. In a late December interview, Bolton stated that Trump’s stance on a denuclearized North Korea was hollow rhetoric for the press and did not represent a coherent policy or commitment to standing up for US interests.
Trump’s Failure—So Far—On North Korea
Trump’s efforts to persuade North Korea into nuclear disarmament have indeed been unsuccessful thus far, despite three highly-hyped meetings with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Bolton also contradicted Trump’s statements that unprecedented progress had been made and that the United States is exerting intense pressure on North Korea. On the contrary, Bolton stated that no visible progress had been made to persuade the isolated country to stop advancing the development of nuclear weapons in almost three years. The United States has to admit that the diplomatic course it has taken is fundamentally wrong, according to Bolton. He doubled down on Twitter, writing that a more effective—and muscular or military—strategy is needed before North Korea obtains technologies that can directly threaten America and kill many Americans.
Bolton’s Hawkish Foreign Policy Views
Bolton is a foreign policy hawk who was let go this past September because of strong disagreements with Trump over the course of US policy. According to the US media, the differences between the two were particularly acute when it came to effectively deal with North Korea, but also the question of how to deal with Iran and negotiations with the Afghan Taliban.
Bolton never made a secret out of the fact that he would favor a much more aggressive foreign policy towards North Korea, such as regime change imposed by US military force. Before joining the Trump administration, Bolton stated that the US should launch a first strike against North Korea. Even if a first strike is highly unrealistic, especially in an election year and due to the reluctance Trump has displayed to date when it comes to regime change, Bolton could put the North Korean cause back into the spotlight with his recent statements.
North Korea: Powderkeg Ready To Blow
Mainly if Kim had kept his “promise” of delivering a “Christmas gift,” this would have pressured Trump to act in some capacity, with Bolton’s words pushing him on. Despite worldwide concern that a new missile test in North Korea was imminent based on Kim’s promise, Pyongyang has yet to launch new rockets. However, Kim is cognizant that, if he pushes too far the peace talks—which have been stalled since the summit in Vietnam in February—could end for good.
Moreover, while North Korea has given the United States until the end of the year to make proposals to resume talks, Trump continues to reject Pyongyang’s demands, such as lifting international sanctions prior to North Korean denuclearization.
The caveat about Bolton’s words is that he has not testified in Congress about his time serving the administration, something the Democrats have been hoping for. The Democrats hope that Bolton’s testimony could provide the public with information that would prove Trump is unstable and a threat to national security, which would aid in impeaching Trump.
Rumors about a book deal Bolton has signed continue to circulate, however. If he decided to write down potential problems he had with Trump for monetary benefit in lieu of communicating them under oath in Congress for the good of the nation, the image of Bolton as a true American patriot by some liberal interventionists and neoconservatives might have to be revisited.