U.S. President Donald Trump has selected Robert O’Brien, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, as his new National Security Advisor. O’Brien will be Trump’s fourth NSA in less than four years – he is to replace John Bolton in the position.
O’Brien’s previous role was to lead hostage negotiations at the State Department, working closely with the families of US hostages. Having trained as a lawyer, O’Brien went on to work for the United Nations Security Council in Geneva, later returning to the US to work in both the Bush and Obama administrations. His career has largely focused on US foreign policy, spending time to promote the rule of law in Afghanistan and as a representative to the United Nations General Assembly.
In one of the more recent high-profile cases, O’Brien was involved in the release of US musician ASAP Rocky from his detention in Sweden in August.
Seen as a more conventional, bureaucratic selection by Trump, much of O’Brien’s policies and beliefs can be found in his collection of essays “While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis” published in 2016. O’Brien criticises the UN General Assembly in the book, and pushes for a return to Ronald Reagan’s ‘leader of the free world’ approach to foreign policy. He shares many of the same beliefs as his predecessor Bolton, but his style and approach is viewed as far less confrontational.
It is believed that O’Brien was the preferred pick of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Ned Price, the former spokesman for the US National Security Council under President Obama tweeted: “Trump, after enduring the Bolton experience, clearly has no use for a strong personality or ideologue in the National Security Adviser position.” The selection of O’Brien has been viewed as a triumph for Pompeo who contested with Bolton for Trump’s ear.
Trump announced the appointment on Twitter, stating that ‘I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!’
Photo Credit: Cameron W. Terry [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons