It’s only John Bolton’s third day as National Security Advisor but already another one of the few sane people behind this unpredictable, impulsive president’s foreign policy has resigned, sending tremors of fear and concern through Washington.
The third key member of former NSA head H.R. McMaster’s team heading for the exit is Nadia Schadlow, the deputy national security adviser for strategy, known for emphasizing the use of soft power and diplomacy when doing interventions abroad.
That makes her the opposite of Bolton, a bombastic, blustering foreign policy-hawk who approaches international diplomacy the way the Hell Angel’s handled their jobs as security guards at the Altamont festival in 1969, where they became aggressively violent toward the crowd.
“Schadlow has been viewed as one of the rare, reliable steady hands guiding foreign policy in the Trump White House,” CNN reported today.
Her resignation comes a day after the White House’s homeland security adviser Tom Bossert was shown the door by Bolton, who also this week pushed out NSC spokesman Michael Anton, and they are not expected to be the last to go.
Bolton clearly intends to put his imprint on the NSA, which is charged with providing the president all viable alternatives in foreign affairs, and suggestions on how to respond to events as they happen around the globe.
Bolton, who still thinks the invasion of Iraq under George W. Bush was a good idea, has already said that he thinks the U.S. may have to go to war with North Korea and probably Iran as well.
Schadlow, an academic with think tank experience who has a Ph.D. from John Hopkins, is best known as the author of the “America First” national security strategy released in December 2017 which Trump introduced during a speech that month in Washington.
In a 55-page document, it positions the U.S. in a struggle for international influence with Russia and China to see who is the world’s top superpower.
Curiously, the document accused Russia and China of doing things that in retrospect sound a lot like what Trump has done: making their economies less free and fair, growing their military, controlling data and information, and repressing their societies.
The strategy said the solution was for the US. to push aside international agreements in favor of going it alone when facing off with rivals over trade and security issues.
Part of that was to disavow international cooperation on climate change, which had been a centerpiece of President Obama’s foreign policy.
It did say that Trump wanted to work with other nations to contain North Korea and on a few other thorny issues, but even that has turned out to be little more than lip service.
Schadlow has agreed to hang around until April 27 to help in the transition, but it is unlikely Bolton would accept her advice on what to do or who to hire since everything he represents is alien from what she has made the hallmarks of her career.
Schadlow and McMaster were pseudo-isolationists but at least they provided some checks against Trump’s tendency to impulsively forge ahead without perspective or necessary information. Now, Bolton can leverage that to swing the president toward his extremist views.
None of them belong anywhere near the White House but at least Schadlow and McMaster acted like adults who know starting wars is never a good idea and the ally you alienate today you may need tomorrow.
Now it is just America’s version of the Lone Ranger and Tonto ready to fight first and ask questions later.
No good will come of this.