The negotiator or Bolton Lite? Reading Robert C. O’Brien

By Gil Barndollar

President Trump proudly unveiled a new national security adviser on Wednesday who looks the part: Robert C. O’Brien, the State Department’s special presidential envoy for hostage affairs. A tanned Californian, with a successful law career based in Los Angeles, O’Brien has spent time in mid-level State Department roles when not making his living in international arbitration. He is a comparatively unknown figure and so the question hangs in the air: is Trump’s new NSA a sober diplomat, ‘Bolton Lite‘, or something else?

O’Brien was not an immediate public contender for the job. But DC insider speculation proved fruitless. Purported favorites like belligerent ambassador Ric Grenell, realist Ret. Col. Douglas MacGregor, and attempted Nigerian sea pirate State Department Iran hand Brian Hook failed to make the finals. Instead, O’Brien emerged from a shortlist of five, beating out Pompeo adviser Major Gen. Ricky Waddell; Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the undersecretary of energy for nuclear security; Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, a national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence; and Fred Fleitz, a former CIA officer and henchman to Bolton and national security prevaricator Frank Gaffney.

This piece was originally published by The Spectator on September 19, 2019. Read more HERE.