Washington: US President Donald Trump today fired his National Security Adviser Lt Gen H R McMaster and replaced him with a conservative hawk and former UN Ambassador John Bolton, the latest high-level shakeup in the chaotic White House.
Reports of McMaster’s ouster had surfaced last week but the White House had dispelled them saying there were no changes at the National Security Council (NSC).
Trump, however, took to Twitter today to make the announcement of 69-year-old Bolton’s appointment.
“I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, John Bolton will be my new National Security Adviser,” Trump said on Twitter.
“I am very thankful for the service of General H R McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend,” Trump said.
Bolton’s appointment does not require US Senate confirmation. He will take the job on April 9.
The move, which was sudden but not unexpected, signals a more confrontational approach in American foreign policy at a time when the US president faces mounting challenges, including from Iran and North Korea, the New York Times commented.
The appointment of Bolton could lead to dramatic changes in the Trump administration’s approach to crises around the world, The Washington Post said.
His appointment is certain to scramble the White House’s preparations for a proposed summit by the end of May between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Bolton, known for his walrus moustache, is a fierce North Korea hawk who, in his prolific writings and television commentary, has said that preemptive war would likely be the only way to stop North Korea from obtaining the capability to attack the US with a nuclear missile.
McMaster was Trump’s second national security adviser after Michael Flynn was dismissed last year for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the US.
The NSC is one of the most powerful wings of the White House that drives the administration’s national security agenda.
The announcement of McMaster’s ouster, who the White House said had a “good working relationship” with Trump, is the latest in a string of high-profile White House departures since President Trump took office in January 2017.
The announcement came just days after he replaced secretary of state Rex Tillerson with his close ally, CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
That move, Trump said, was in preparation for upcoming top-level nuclear talks with North Korean leader Kim.
According to a White House official, Trump and McMaster mutually agreed that the latter will resign as the NSA.
“The two have been discussing this for some time. The timeline was expedited as they both felt it was important to have the new team in place, instead of constant speculation,” the official said.
Trump and McMaster both released written statements thanking each other, with the president describing McMaster as an architect of his “America First” foreign policy.
“He helped develop our America First National Security Strategy, revitalise our alliances in the Middle East, smash ISIS, bring North Korea to the table, and strengthen our nation’s prosperity. This work and those achievements will ensure that America builds on its economic and military advantages. I thank General McMaster and his family for their service and wish them the very best,” Trump said.
McMaster said after 34 years of service, he is requesting retirement from the US Army effective this summer after which he will leave public service.
“Throughout my career, it has been my greatest privilege to serve alongside extraordinary service members and dedicated civilians.
The White House has described Bolton, who replaces McMaster, as one of the strongest voices and experts on the full range of national security issues and challenges facing the country.
Bolton has been a foreign policy hawk in Republican circles for decades, having served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and George W Bush.
Bolton served as US Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 2005-2006 and as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security from 2001-2005.
Bolton, during his tenure at the United Nations, was a leading voice on the need for the Security Council to take strong and meaningful action against international proliferation and terrorism.
As Under Secretary, he repeatedly advocated tough measures against the nuclear weapons programs of both Iran and North Korea, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction generally. He led negotiations for America to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty so that the Bush administration could proceed with a national missile-defence programme. PTI