Mr. Trump is a baldly anti-interventionist political figure who ran the most openly “Come Home, America”-style campaign of any major presidential candidate since 1972. He catapulted over more than a dozen Republicans in 2016 partially by championing his opposition to the Iraq misadventure. He wanted out of Afghanistan and eschews nation building.
In office, hallmarks of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy have been outreach to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and the attempts to negotiate a peace settlement with the Taliban to facilitate a speedy withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. I’ve been in meetings with several South Asia scholars over the past few days here in Washington, and all have agreed on one thing: Donald Trump wants out of Afghanistan, and pronto. The vast majority of American voters agree with him on this, of course.
John Bolton, for his many positive qualities – which, truly are many — could not have been a more baffling choice for a president who wants to reduce America’s presence on the world stage. Mr. Bolton was (and remains) an outspoken advocate for the Iraq invasion. He opposed Mr. Trump’s outreach to North Korea and the Taliban. One is left with the rather disturbing conclusion that the only reason Mr. Trump selected him for the job of national security adviser was that he used to appear on Fox News Channel regularly.
With Mr. Bolton’s ouster, the president now has an opportunity to select somebody more in line with his calls for a humbler foreign policy. At the national level, the Republican party has been largely dominated by national security hawks since at least 9/11 so the ranks in the GOP are rather thin. Mr. Trump may have to look elsewhere.
Luckily, there’s a certain member of Congress – a military veteran herself – who is calling for the U.S. to withdraw from Afghanistan within the year. She’s pro-military but anti-interventionist and nation-building. Of course, that congresswoman, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, is currently running for president. But with the way her campaign is going, she’ll likely be available soon – and probably willing to accept a promotion.
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