Trump names new national security advisor to replace Bolton

Trump announced O’Brien’s nomination on Wednesday, saying that he has “worked long and hard with Robert.”

O’Brien replaces John Bolton, the hawkish interventionist sacked last week. Bolton was a proponent of military intervention in Iran, Venezuela, Syria, and North Korea, and Trump had reportedly complained that Bolton was actively trying to drag him into conflict. Announcing his dismissal, Trump said that he “strongly disagreed” with many of Bolton’s positions.

O’Brien is a lesser known name in foreign policy circles, and is currently serving as the special envoy for hostage affairs at the State Department. Though more used to overseeing the release of hostages from conflict zones, O’Brien was sent by Trump to Sweden in July, to try and secure the release of rapper A$AP Rocky, who was jailed for an alleged assault in Stockholm.

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The negotiations failed, and Rocky was held in jail before eventually being released pending a verdict.

O’Brien set forth his foreign policy beliefs in his 2016 book ‘While America Slept.’ In it, he called for a strengthening of America’s military alliances – the relevance of which Trump has questioned in the past – and an aggressive posture against China.

The diplomat also compared the Obama Administration’s signing of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran to appeasing Nazi Germany. Given Trump’s promise on Wednesday to “substantially increase” sanctions on Tehran, O’Brien’s hiring likely signals no thaw in relations with the Islamic Republic.

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