July 19, 2019

John Bolton, You're Fired

“Thursday night, The New York Times reported, we narrowly avoided a first step toward what could become a regional war in the Middle East. President Trump’s go-ahead—reportedly quickly revoked—for airstrikes targeting radar stations and missile facilities would almost certainly have resulted in Iranian deaths. This would not have been a replay of the targeted attack on Syria, a broken state in the middle of a civil war, in 2017. At that time, fearing an engagement with Russia, a military power, the Pentagon gave notice that the strike was coming. This strike, by contrast, against a regional power like Iran, would have seen a reprisal—most likely with Iranian proxies (Hezbollah or militia in Iraq) attacking American targets in the region, which would doubtless be seen as requiring a response in kind. There would have been no way of avoiding a regional conflict that experts say would make the Iraq War look small and simple.

Make no mistake: This is John Bolton’s war. It’s a war that the current national security advisor has been advocating since 2007. He has spoken of bombing Iran on TV, in print, as a government official, and as a private citizen. He has received payment from an Iranian dissident group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MeK), listing a $40,000 speaking fee for “European Iranian Events” in July 2017 on a government financial disclosure form (experts say the total number over a series of years could be significantly higher). He spoke at MeK’s conference in July 2017, promising regime change in Tehran. This war has been, in theory, on the table ever since President Trump took to the podium to announce the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA, and a strategy of “maximum pressure” through sanctions that are starting to crush the Iranian economy. But it did not become likely until John Bolton was appointed to the position of National Security Advisor.

John Bolton’s history as a hawk is well known, but what the public is less aware of is his manipulation of the national security state into achieving the outcomes he wants. Bolton is reported to have manipulated intelligence when he was in the George W. Bush administration on the issue of Cuban bioweapons. He was part of the team that built the intelligence case for war with Iraq, arguing that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The Guardian has reported he even went so far, in 2002, as to force a Brazilian diplomat who had gotten Saddam Hussein to sign on to the Chemical Weapons Convention to leave his post, threatening his children (Bolton denied making the threat).”

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