Friday, March 23, 2018

Bolton’s Appointment ‘a Positive Signal for Ukraine,’ Portnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 23 – US President Donald Trump’s selection of former US permanent representative to the United Nations John Bolton as his national security advisor represents “a positive signal for Ukraine” because of his Reaganite views that the US should be the only superpower, Vitaly Portnikov says.

            Trump has been searching for people for his national security team who share his “system of political views and at the same time are capable of not contradicting” the president, the Ukrainian commentator says. “For this point of view, Bolton is an outstanding choice (

                The new national security advisor’s “views on the world were formed during the Reagan Administration, that is, when Donald Trump himself simply did not have any political views,” Portnikov says. Under George W. Bush, he was known “as a tough and consistent conservative, a real foreign policy ‘hawk’” who backed the war in Iraq and opposition to North Korea.

            Democrats opposed him, and Bolton responded in kind, being one of the sharpest critics of Barack Obama’s policy regarding Russia and Ukraine. 

            At the same time, Portnikov continues, Bolton has gained the reputation as “a conformist, an individual who seeks not to get into arguments with his bosses and is extremely tough with his subordinates … And this approach too,” the commentator says, “could be what recommended him to Donald Trump.”

            But there are likely to be some problems in the relationship between the two men. “John Bolt really has views and a reputation which arises out of them. Donald Trump isn’t interested in the one or the other. Generally, the president isn’t interested even in political power because Trump barely understands what it is.”

            He is interested “only in being well-known and he is trying to run America with the approach of an experienced builder.”

            Someone like Bolton could become “a real helper for Trump but only up to that moment when the decisions of the president do not begin to threaten his own reputation and ambitions.” It is unthinkable that Boltson could be “the architect of agreements either with Russia or North Korea, and any attempts by Trump [to reach those] will become a problem for Bolton.”

            Of course, it is possible that things won’t go as far as an open break. “Bolton, in contrast to Tillerson will not begin to make remarks relative to the mental capacities of the president. He will simply after a certain interval depart,” Portnikov argues. Thus he is unlikely to be Trump’s last national security advisor.

            However, for as long as he holds onto this post, Bolton will represent “a positive signal for Ukraine.”

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