Sep 30, 2019

John Bolton suggests Trump's North Korea strategy will never work

John Bolton in Singapore in 2018 for the Trump-Kim summit. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

John Bolton made clear Monday just how deeply he disagrees with President Trump's North Korea policy — just 20 days after he was ousted as the president's national security adviser.

Why it matters: Bolton said he was glad to be able to give his views "in unvarnished terms." If he continues to do so on a broader range of topics, Bolton could be one of Trump's most damaging foreign policy critics.

  • He did say, though, that he has a "self-imposed restriction" on discussing specifics from his time in the White House.

Bolton told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that North Korea was and would continue to be committed to keeping and expanding its nuclear weapons program, rendering Trump’s summit-based strategy pointless.

  • He contended North Korea wouldn’t "ever voluntarily give up enough" in negotiations, and said the U.S. should consider a military option. He cited regime change as one potential outcome.
  • He also raised the "Libya model" of denuclearization — a comparison that outraged North Korea and, as a result, Trump when he referenced it while serving in the White House. Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was toppled a decade after giving up his nuclear program.

On his personal impressions of Kim Jong-un, Bolton said: "I think it's clear he’s in charge. I think it's clear he makes the decisions. And I think he feels very comfortable in that role."

  • Bolton said he was sure "the leadership of North Korea is delighted I'm here today in a private capacity," rather than in the White House.

The big picture: Bolton argued that the U.S. should be more deeply engaged around the world and must strengthen ties with allies — views that runs contrary to Trump's.

Go deeper: Bolton's chaotic White House departure

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Scoop: John Bolton to write Trump book, pairs with top agents

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton has decided to write a book about his time in the Trump administration, according to 2 people familiar with the matter. Bolton has agreed to be represented by Javelin's Matt Latimer and Keith Urbahn.

Why it matters: Given the fact that he wrote a book about his tenure in the George W. Bush administration, from the moment he left the White House, senior officials privately expressed concerns about what Bolton might say and reveal about his time serving Trump.

Go deeperArrowOct 10, 2019

Schiff: John Bolton is a "very important witness" in impeachment inquiry

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said on ABC's "This Week" that he wants former White House national security adviser John Bolton to testify in the Ukraine investigation, but that he assumes the Trump administration will fight House investigators in court to prevent him from appearing.

Go deeperArrowOct 27, 2019

U.S. presented tourism plans to North Korea during denuclearization talks

Cars carrying members of the North Korean delegation in Sweden. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. officials developed and presented a long-term plan to help North Korea establish a sought-after tourism hub in exchange for denuclearization during recent talks in Stolkholm, Bloomberg reports, citing Hankook Ilbo newspaper.

Why it matters: North Korea has tested weapons repeatedly in recent months, after talks with the U.S. came to a standstill in February. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has tried to build a resort in the Wonsan-Kalma coastal area, per Bloomberg.

Go deeperArrowOct 19, 2019