Despite trying to give the appearance of boundless confidence in his
foreign policy, President Trump appears very aware that a lot of
Americans, including parts of his political base, are profoundly
uncomfortable with the war-mongering tone of recent months.
Between Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela, the US has seemed on the brink
of a huge war for months now. With the polls turning against him, President Trump is now talking up diplomacy, and how he’s not seeking regime change in Iran.
This is fueling criticism from hawkish pundits, who like their president
the way he was: shaking his fists with rage and promising great
suffering the world over. They are accusing Trump of showing weakness
and undercutting his previous “maximum pressure” strategy.
Trump may struggle to complete this shift in tone, with top members of
his cabinet heavily committed to the more hawkish language. It is hard
to envision John Bolton, for instance, advocating something that doesn’t
involve a region-wide war.
Some analysts are downplaying the Trump-Bolton split, even though Trump is openly seeking consultation with Sheldon Adelson on how to deal with him. They are suggesting the differences are deliberate, and meant to be a good cop, bad cop strategy.