President Donald Trump is taking a sharply hawkish foreign-policy turn with the appointment of John Bolton as national security adviser, ditching moderates and installing an inner circle that championed some of the policies he derided on the campaign trail.
Bolton said in an interview with Fox News on March 22 that as Trump's security adviser, he will be an "honest broker" who presents multiple views for the president to consider.
Administration officials, speaking anonymously, have been saying for weeks that the president had exhausted of McMaster's methodical approach to the job and wanted a more aggressive leader who would compel Cabinet secretaries to more quickly implement the president's policies. Trump tweeted that McMaster had done "an outstanding job & will always remain my friend".
A White House official said Thursday that Trump and McMaster mutually agreed on the resignation, which the two men have been discussing for some time. Walking in to the White House?
McMaster and Trump at first appeared simpatico in broad aspects of their worldview. He is being replaced by former UN Ambassador and Fox News contributor, #John Bolton. Coupled with his nomination of the hard-line Central Intelligence Agency director, Mike Pompeo, as secretary of state, Mr Trump is indulging his worst nationalist instincts. He once derided the United Nations by citing its 38-story headquarters in NY. Writing in the Wall Street Journal last August, days after North Korea had tested its second Hwasong-14 intercontinental-range ballistic missiles, Bolton argued that "no foreign government, even a close ally, can veto an action to protect Americans from Kim Jong Un's nuclear weapons".
When former president George W. Bush appointed Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations it was pointed out that his nominee was not a fan of the organization.
In recent years, including a stint as a foreign policy senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Bolton has been a high profile conservative commentator.
"The risks of a war with Iran or North Korea are now significantly greater than they were this morning", he says. His hostility toward Islam points toward a set of extreme policies that could easily have the effect of abridging American Muslims' rights at home and alienating America's Muslim allies overseas. One would expect Bolton - who also has a reputation for a take-no-prisoners approach to internal debate - to use those aspects of his new position to empower rather than constrain some of Trump's more strident instincts.
On this point, Mr Bolton, Ms Haley and Mr Trump agree the most.
But when the Washington Post reported this week that Trump had congratulated Putin in a phone call on his fraudulent election win - after receiving written briefing materials from the NSC instructing him not to congratulate Putin - the president reacted furiously and blamed McMaster.
HR McMaster, a lieutenant general in the US Army who gained fame for a landmark book blaming politicians for the American debacle in Vietnam, leaves his post on April 9. There was even more to the intimidation than has yet been made public, but I leave it to those directly targeted to tell the fuller story when they are free to do so.
Those who say Mr Trump is too soft on China and Russian Federation will also have an ally. That means Bolton will likely be stuck with his current staff for the May summit meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. And whether the irascible and tough-minded John Bolton will keep his new seat - or is a bright, shiny but temporary fix in the mind and mood swings of a mercurial President - remains to be seen.
Bolton will now have a central role in crafting United States foreign policy, by framing Trump's decisions on defense and security.
McMaster and President Donald Trump had always been at odds, with Trump at times publicly rebuking McMaster. And while Mattis and McMaster reportedly clashed - including over McMaster's effort to generate military options for North Korea - the former national security adviser was generally considered a fairly sober voice on most national security issues. "This work and those achievements will ensure that America builds on its economic and military advantages", Mr. Trump said in a statement.
Every President has the legitimate right to change his advisers and pick ones he's comfortable with.