The Washington Post reports that John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, has been excluded from discussions about an Afghanistan “peace deal” between the U.S. and the Taliban. Bolton apparently doesn’t favor such a deal.
This is a president who rages against Fox News because people who appear on that network occasionally say things he doesn’t like hearing. So we shouldn’t be surprised that Trump doesn’t want to hear from Bolton on the subject of Afghanistan.
Still, it’s extraordinary that Bolton has been shut out to the point that, according to the Post, he wasn’t even allowed initially to have his own copy of the draft agreement the U.S. is trying to reach with its “peace partner,” the Taliban. If the national security adviser is distrusted to that degree, it’s time to get a new national security adviser.
If/when Trump gets a new one, it will be his fourth in four (or maybe just three) years. Nor is this position an isolated case. Rooughly half of Trump’s high-level appointees have either been unsatisfactory to him or (in cases like Alex Acosta) unsatisfactory, period.
Unfortunately, the overlap between these two categories isn’t great.
Trump doesn’t just want to strike a deal with the Taliban. He wants to negotiate with Iran, as well. He fancies himself a great deal maker, but has been unable to strike one yet with North Korea or China.
Each of these cases is different, of course. Of the four, reaching a deal with the Taliban might be the easiest task, since Trump seems to contemplate something like surrender, and the Taliban must figure it can violate the terms of any agreement with the U.S.
This, I assume, is why Bolton isn’t on board with the administration’s efforts to bring “peace” to Afghanistan. But Trump doesn’t want to hear it.