John Bolton Photo: IC
US National Security Adviser John Bolton has left the Trump administration as both US President Donald Trump and Bolton himself tweeted on the topic on Tuesday, prompting gleeful Chinese internet users to poke fun at the hawk’s exit while experts declared the departure proof positive for the failure of US “maximum pressure.”
A tongue-in-cheek image circulating widely on Chinese mainland social media platforms depicted Bolton awakening from his slumber with the caption overhead reading “John Bolton awakes from terrifying nightmare of world peace.”
Many internet users urged Trump to fire some more US politicians deemed hostile to China.
“Stay in line buddies, Lighthizer you would be the next lol,” posted one user on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo.
“A hawkish warlike politician who purposely avoided military service during the Vietnam War. How could this guy convince himself?” posted web user ufokings on Chinese mainland political news portal guancha.cn.
Diao Daming, a US studies expert and an associate professor at Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday that “Bolton had limited influence in the Trump administration’s decision-making on policy toward China. But at least his exit marks the failure of the administration’s frequent ‘maximum pressure.'”
When Trump picked Bolton as national security advisor about 500 days ago, the administration needed a hard-liner to show its hawkish stance, Diao noted, and at that time the US was extremely tough on both North Korea and Iran.
But now the situation has changed, he said.
For more than a year US “maximum pressure” offended much of the international community and provoked unnecessary tensions in regions as different as the Korean Peninsula, the Gulf and Latin America, Diao said.
As a result, today such a politician was becoming a “negative asset” for the Trump administration, he asserted.
“The US can’t use maximum pressure against North Korea anymore as Trump wants to promote talks rather than military drills,” Diao said.
“On the Iranian nuclear deal, the US approach has been widely criticized by the international community, not only China and Russia, but also its EU allies.”
Bolton was simply not useful anymore, Diao concluded. “Trump is entering the election period and so his diplomacy needs more flexibility than hard-liners.”
Lü Xiang, an expert on the US at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, said that “from Michael Flynn, H.R. McMaster to John Bolton, Trump now is looking for his fourth national security advisor in the third year of his term, and this shows that his diplomatic policy is a total mess and US diplomacy is in a state of unprecedented confusion.”
Bolton’s successor could be Stephen Biegun, US Special Representative for North Korea, Chinese observers predicted.
“If Trump picks a person with a military background then this could be a signal that he wants to bring the voice of the military back to his team and balance the influence of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; but if he picks Biegun, who is very close to Pompeo, then there would be no balance in his team,” Diao said.
Lü noted Trump is unlikely to find a professional of rich talent or experience to fill the post as he was likely seeking an “assistant rather than a real advisor.”