U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday he had no reservations or concerns about President Donald Trump‘s incoming national security adviser, John Bolton, a hawk who has advocated using military force against North Korea and Iran.
The moves within a small group of just a handful of advisers have raised questions about whether Mattis could find himself increasingly isolated in his views and outmaneuvered by Bolton, an inveterate bureaucratic infighter whose 2007 memoir is titled: “Surrender Is Not An Option.”Mattis had forged a close relationship with both McMaster and Tillerson as he successfully advocated to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan and strengthen ties with NATO, despite Trump‘s skepticism about both the 16-year-old war and the trans-Atlantic alliance supporting it.Warning about the horrors of a war on the Korean peninsula, Mattis has also promoted a diplomatically-led strategy to pressure North Korea over its efforts to build a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the United States.WATCH: Dana Carvey spoofs ‘lunatic’ John Bolton on Stephen Colbert
(Additional reporting by John Walcott, Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Chris Reese)
“Last time I checked, he’s an American and I can work with an American. Okay? I’m not the least bit concerned with that sort of thing.”Trump has shaken up his core national security team in the past two weeks, replacing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and firing Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state.WATCH: John Bolton to replace H.R. McMaster as Trump’s national security adviser
John Bolton to replace H.R. McMaster as Trump’s national security adviser
Dana Carvey spoofs ‘lunatic’ John Bolton on Stephen Colbert
CAUTIOUS COMMUNICATORMattis has also been a cautious communicator.After Trump announced plans to talk with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Mattis was so concerned he might say something to upset the process that the defense secretary opted earlier this month to stop making any substantive public remarks about North Korea at all.“Right now every word is going to be nuanced and parsed apart across different cultures, at different times of the day, in different contexts,” Mattis said at the time.On the other hand, Bolton, a 69-year-old Fox News analyst and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in the past has called for regime change in North Korea and has previously been rejected as a negotiating partner by Pyongyang.
Trump made Rex Tillerson, North Korea decisions ‘by myself’
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