White House national security advisor H.R. McMaster has resigned and will be replaced by former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Thursday. Bolton is viewed as super-hawk, one of the most hardliners, who has argued a first strike against North Korea. Last week, Trump named former CIA head Mike Pompeo as his new Secretary of State and appointed the foreign policy hawk Bolton as a new national security advisor this week. There is a major reorganization in the White House staff is going on before the critical event of a planned summit between Pyongyang and Washington. The changes have raised claims that Trump attempt to reshuffle his team for a wartime.
“What I have said in private now, is behind me,” said Bolton in a press interview shortly after the appointment. “As an honest broker, I will provide a full range of options to the president.” However, the to-be-national security advisor is known to be key supporter of neoconservative ideologue, which promotes the use of U.S. unrivaled power if necessary. Bolton served as undersecretary of state for arms control and United Nations ambassador during the George W. Bush administration and was an advocate for the Iraq War along with figures such as the then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the then Vice President Dick Cheney. Bolton is said to have met with the president and advised on foreign policy frequently since Trump took office.
Bolton recently published a commentary arguing the legality of a first strike against North Korea, saying the country’s development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles posed an imminent threat to the United States. He also said Trump would leave the meeting if North Korea, in his opinion, attempts to play for time. Bolton’s views on foreign policy is in line with the to-be-Secretary of State Pompeo who has provided military options by a March deadline to deal with North Korea nuclear issues. Meanwhile, the U.S. Forces in Korea will conduct a large-scale ROK-U.S. joint exercise next month, including an evacuation drill to take civilians – U.S. military families – from the Korean Peninsula. It is a regular drill but the U.S. Forces in Korea is reportedly considering a drill to evacuate civilians to the U.S. mainland other than Japan.
Trump will only add more pressure on North Korea before the upcoming North Korea-U.S. summit. A radical shakeup in the White House foreign and security staff sends to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Trump’s message that he would either scrap or leave the meeting, unless the regime completely abandons its nuclear development. At the same time, it gives an indirect pressure on the South Korean government. The Moon Jae-in administration’s policy toward North Korean nuclear issue could be contrary to that of Bolton, who is highly skeptical of the idea that North Korea receives economic aid or peace treaty in return for its denuclearization. It is time to make utmost efforts for the two allies to come up with a denuclearization strategy in a more closely coordinated manner than ever before.