The resignation of John Bolton from the post of adviser to the President of the United States on national security is, of course, the internal affairs of the United States. But still I cannot help but say that this event may inspire a certain cautious optimism regarding both the further development of Russian-American relations and international security as a whole.
Bolton is known as a radical among the radicals, a typical representative of the most hawkish and ideological wing of the American foreign policy establishment. His credo is the establishment of the hegemony of the United States with the help of complete “free hands” in foreign and military policy, the absence of any restrictions, the tough, including a force line for changing unfriendly US regimes and fierce hatred of Iran. He is a pathological opponent of arms control and the traditional architecture of maintaining strategic stability.
His “merits”can be listed for a long time. It was Bolton who played an important role in the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the ABM Treaty in 2002 and in the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, ardently supported the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya in 2011 and no less ardently criticized the conclusion by Russia and the US of the СНВ-III, in 2010. Of course, he was against its extension from 2021 to 2026, which today seems to be the only way to prevent a complete political and legal vacuum in the nuclear sphere. And it was Bolton who, in fact, was the ideologist of Washington’s destruction of another key element of the arms control system – the perpetual Treaty on the Elimination of Mid-Range and Shorter-Range Land-Based Missiles.
Of course, it would be utopian to expect that with the departure of Bolton the United States would give up all elements of its policy. Washington drew a similar line before Bolton and, most likely, will continue to follow after.
But still, I hope that the resignation of such an ardent hawk can create certain prerequisites for a more constructive course on the part of the United States. First of all, in terms of extending for a new term СНВ-III, and with it maintaining the most important pillar of strategic stability, a system of transparency and predictability in the nuclear missile sphere. Bolton was perhaps the main opponent of this treaty in the White House.
On the whole, Russia and the USA need a broader and more useful dialogue on issues of stratum stability. СНВ-III, in any case, is not eternal, and now we need to think about what will come to replace it.
Leonid Slutsky, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the State Duma of the Russian Federation