When well known war-hawk John Bolton was appointed Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor in April of 2018, many felt that his first major act would be to scuttle the peace process in Korea. Instead, the peace process continues to move ahead at a fairly rapid pace in terms of Pyongyang-Seoul relations and a slow but steady peace in respect of DPRK-USA relations. Much of this is apparently due to Bolton being largely sidelined throughout the course of the Korean peace process.
Later in 2018, it was the issue of Syria which further exposed schisms between the US and its fellow NATO ally Turkey. It was Bolton who in early 2019 attempted to meet with President Erdoğan in order to somehow convince Turkey that the US would not leave Syria unless Turkey made an absurd commitment to protect the YPG/PKK terror group which itself threatens Turkey’s security and territorial integrity. Not surprisingly, Erdoğan refused to meet the man making such insulting demands and Bolton left Turkey in disgrace. Since then, US relations with Turkey have again improved as cool heads in Washington have acknowledged Turkey’s genuine security concerns regarding terrorism in northern Syria.
Thus, in respect of Korea, relations with Turkey and America’s strategy in Syria, Bolton was either excluded from the mix or otherwise publicly shot down. It is against this background that a Bolton who reportedly has little face-to-face contact with the US President and is referred to as “Mike” by Donald Trump (according to Israeli media), is becoming the main face of American attempts at regime change in Venezuela.
Apart from a Re-Tweet of a statement from Vice President Mike Pence regarding Washington’s recognition of a self-proclaimed leader as the President of Venezuela, Trump has said comparatively little on the matter. Instead, John Bolton has been front and centre when it comes to the issue, while his frequent media rounds on Fox News are being listened to by the wider world in order for clues to be derived as to whether or not the US will use military force against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
While Bolton is self evidently taking centre stage on the Venezuela issue in the way that he has not done in respect of any other major development since April of last year, President Maduro himself has stated that Bolton is largely responsible for the disintegration of US-Venezuela relations. In a new interview, Maduro stated the following:
“For all these years, I have been trying on a personal level [to establish dialogue]. I have sent messages that reached Trump publicly, through media, in order to establish a relationship with the US government, in order to have respect and dialogue, despite the political, cultural and ideological differences between Donald Trump and Nicolas Maduro. And it seemed like the window of opportunity opened for that. But Bolton prevented Donald Trump from initiating a dialogue with Nicolas Maduro. I have the information that he has prohibited this”.
Assuming Maduro has been privy to the correct information, this would indicate that not only is Bolton hogging the limelight in the midst of the Venezuela crisis, but he is also calling the shots. Given that Donald Trump typically relishes the opportunity to speak face to face with a nominal rival head of state, it does conform to expectations that Trump would actually want to sit down with Maduro and make “a terrific deal”, whilst the pro-regime change Bolton clearly has other ideas.
As has typically proven to be the case, the road to Donald Trump’s heart (and mind) is his Twitter and whilst the wide world has been Tweeting about and discussing the situation in Venezuela, Trump has said comparatively little about it, preferring instead to stick to domestic issues.
It can therefore be assumed that Maduro is likely telling the full truth about Bolton prohibiting a would-be discussion between the US and Venezuelan President. It can further be deduced that after failing to get his way in Korea, Turkey and Syria, Bolton has at long last found a theatre of conflict that he can manage without much apparent resistance from his colleagues in Washington.