Ex-NATO commander: 'Buckle up' for increased tensions under Bolton

Ex-NATO commander: 'Buckle up' for increased tensions under Bolton
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Former NATO Commander Adm. James Stavridis predicted that President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE's recent picks for key national security posts are likely to lead to heightened tensions abroad and a more aggressive foreign policy footing by the White House.

"Look for a ramp up in tension on the Korean Peninsula, in our relationship with China, certainly against Iran," Stavridis said told radio host John Catsimatidis on AM 970 in New York. "Buckle up."

Stavridis's comments came after a spate of shake-ups among some of the Trump administration's top national security officials that began earlier this month with the unceremonious firing of Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand Trump-era ban on travel to North Korea extended Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump MORE.

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Trump has tapped CIA Director Mike PompeoMike PompeoAmerica needs a new strategy for Pacific Island Countries Harris to hold fundraiser for McAuliffe ahead of Virginia governor's race It's in our interest to turn the page on relations with Suriname MORE to fill that position, while nominating CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel for the lead role at the intelligence agency. 

The latest shake-up came on Thursday, when Trump abruptly dismissed national security adviser H.R. McMaster and chose former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton to replace him.

Taken together, Trump's choices of Bolton, Pompeo and Haspel signal an effort to assemble a decidedly more hawkish team of advisers at a time when the president faces national security challenges on multiple fronts, including in North Korea and Iran.

Stavridis predicted that Bolton, who has advocated for scrapping the Iran nuclear deal and considers a military strike on North Korea a serious option, would likely advise Trump to take a hard-line position in upcoming talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

That hard-line stance, Stavridis said, could include an uncompromising demand that Pyongyang abandon its nuclear weapons program entirely.

"I would predict, following that, the talks will break down and we will move back to the state of tension that we were in prior to the Olympics," he said. "So I think this choice of John Bolton tells us that the president is looking for a more hard-edge policy toward North Korea. Tension will go up."