John Bolton wore out his welcome at Trump’s White House


John Bolton was seen as an odd choice when Donald Trump chose the foreign policy hawk to succeed HR Mcmaster as the White House national security adviser in March 2018.

Aside from his trademark moustache, which Mr Trump hated, he was a proponent of employing American power overseas in the kind of muscular way that Mr Trump had rejected during his 2016 campaign.

Eighteen months later, Mr Bolton met the same fate as Mr Mcmaster — fired by a president who had grown frustrated at his efforts to thwart his foreign policy on everything from Iran and North Korea to Russia and, just last weekend, Afghanistan.

When Mr Bolton entered the West Wing — after being passed over for Mr Mcmaster the previous year — there was no mystery about his views. In newspaper articles and appearances on Fox News, the unrepentant supporter of the Iraq war had argued that the US should push for regime change in Iran and strike North Korea.

In his new role, Mr Bolton argued that his job was to advocate for the policies of Mr Trump. But unlike Mike Pompeo, the equally hawkish secretary of state, the former Bush administration official failed to leave his own views at the White House doorstep and continued to push Mr Trump in directions that matched his world view.

“Bolton made a cardinal mistake. He would get ahead of the president and almost try to box him in — including on North Korea,” said one former senior official.

One White House official said Mr Trump had grown increasingly angry with Mr Bolton in recent months, chafing at his hard line views and his reluctance to defend the president. Mr Bolton was conspicuously absent from TV talk shows, particularly when Mr Trump had pushed policies that he opposed, such as his suggestion at the G7 in France that Russia should be invited back into the club.

The official said Mr Trump decided to fire Mr Bolton over the past 48 hours after deciding that “enough was enough”. The move came just days after Mr Bolton strenuously opposed a plan by Mr Trump to bring members of the Taliban to Camp David, the presidential retreat, to sign a peace accord to end the conflict in Afghanistan.

While the Afghanistan dispute was the final straw, there were already clear signs that Mr Bolton was under pressure. He did not attend some of Mr Trump’s meetings with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, including an important session in Hanoi in February and when the two leaders met in June in the demilitarised zone.

There were other signs of conflict. Shortly after Mr Bolton said in May that North Korean missile tests had violated UN sanctions, Mr Trump contradicted him at a press conference by saying: “I view it differently.”

Smoke still billowed above the Amazonian canopy as Jaime Sales clambered atop a 3-metre-high stack of razed trees. “Victory,” he exclaimed, letting his shotgun drop loose and surveying the battered forest around him.

At the vanguard of a small team of armed environmental enforcers, the corporal with Pará’s environmental military police unit had ventured deep into the jungle near Altamira in the northern Brazilian state, which has been the site of persistent conflict over deforestation.

His reward was the seizure of the massive illegal timber bounty — a haul he estimated to be worth “millions” of dollars on the black market, most likely in China, the US or Europe, say experts.

“Today was a good day, but these environmental crimes never stop. There is a lot of deforestation,” he says, adding that “the pressure is now on” from loggers, crooked ranchers and wildcat gold miners.

Such successes for Brazil’s environmental authorities have been few and far between. Since the election last year of the far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who is a keen advocate of opening up the Amazon to commercial interests, these groups have been chopping down and setting fire to trees with gusto.

Although far from a record, the trends this year have been alarming: figures released this week showed that the rate of deforestation last month was 222 per cent higher than the same month last year. By some estimates, a football field worth of forest is razed every minute.

“There has been no enforcement since the election of Bolsonaro, and now the forest is paying the price,” says one ranger with Brazil’s national park service in the western state of Acre.“some people are burning the forest because they know no one is going to fight them.”

History of forest fires in the Amazon region, 2003 to 2019

Mr Bolsonaro and many of his allies see the rain forest as a natural resource that should be exploited