The Biggest and Most Dangerous War Hawk in the World!

John Bolton: the man driving the US towards war … any war

Donald Trump’s national security adviser is stoking tensions with North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, in line with decades of taking the most hawkish position on any given issue

Throughout his career John Bolton has taken Winston Churchill’s maxim that ‘jaw-jaw is better than war-war’ and turned it on its head.
Throughout his career John Bolton has taken Winston Churchill’s maxim that ‘jaw-jaw is better than war-war’ and turned it on its head. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The US is now engaged in three major confrontations around the world that have the potential to degrade into war. And in the driving seat on all three fronts is John Bolton, one of the most fervent believers in American military power ever to work in the White House.

Donald Trump’s 70-year-old national security adviser has been a fixture in US foreign policy over the past four decades, and has spent that time, whether in or out of government, mostly arguing for the most hawkish position on any issue put in front of him.

“He actually believes when America leads, the world is a safer and better place – not just for us but for the world,” said Mark Groombridge, who worked for Bolton for more than 10 years.

In the Obama era, Bolton’s bristling walrus moustache was a near constant presence on television, almost always Fox News, from where he would vent scorn and spleen on the Democratic administration.

These days, Bolton looks considerably more cheerful, having reached the peak of the policymaking establishment that had once seemed out of his reach.

Bolton seems to have played a key role in the collapse of the second Trump summit with Kim Jong-un in February, when he appeared to have drafted a maximalist list of demands for all-or-nothing disarmament that was presented to the North Korean dictator in Hanoi. A year of diplomacy ground to a halt, and Kim, who had been expecting a more gradualist approach, has now started goading the US with a return to missile tests.

In the standoff in Venezuela, Bolton was again centre stage, making himself the lead US voice for a failed effort at regime change in Venezuela in late April, producing a personal video appeal calling – in vain – on Nicolás Maduro’s top aides to defect. Behind the scenes he has urged a reluctant US Southern Command to come up with ever more aggressive solutions to Maduro’s hold on power.

And in the fast-moving escalation of tensions with Iran, it is Bolton who has seized the initiative, spun military deployments in the Gulf that were already in the pipeline as confrontational steps against Tehran, and reportedly irritated some in the Pentagon and intelligence agencies by putting a sensationalist spin on intelligence about Iranian military movements.

Bolton is reported to have convened a deeply unusual meeting on Iran on 29 April, not in the White House, but at CIA headquarters. It was an echo of the buildup to the Iraq war, when Dick Cheney, George W Bush’s vice-president, did the same thing.

It now appears likely that Iranian military preparations that the intelligence appeared to suggest, may have been contingencies in anticipation of a US attack – not an unrealistic expectation in view of Bolton’s record. In 2015, he savaged Obama’s diplomatic efforts and penned a now infamous commentary titled To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.

John Bolton in typically pugnacious mood, inveighing against Iran while US ambassador to the United Nations in 2006.
John Bolton in typically pugnacious mood, inveighing against Iran while US ambassador to the United Nations in 2006. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

Bolton grew up in a working-class Republican family in Baltimore, and his first political experience was as a volunteer in the doomed 1964 campaign of Barry Goldwater, a staunch conservative from Arizona.

Bolton, who saw Goldwater as having been caricatured by the mainstream media, deepened his dislike of liberal eastern elites at Yale University, where he arrived in 1966 on a scholarship. Unlike many of his fellow students, he fiercely supported the war effort in Vietnam, but not to the point of taking part himself. He avoided the draft by joining the Maryland national guard.

He put his law degree to use as a counsel in the Reagan administration, and in 2000 Bolton was one of the Republican lawyers flown into Florida to help tilt the deadlocked election in Bush’s favour.

Bolton ‘played Trump like a Stradivarius’, according to one former aide.
Bolton ‘played Trump like a Stradivarius’, according to one former aide. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

It is that background that has convinced Tehran that Bolton is implacably set on forcible regime change. If there is to be an off-ramp on the road to war, and a return to dialogue it may require Trump to fire Bolton.

Trump has joked with other officials and foreign leaders that Bolton wanted to get him into a war. “I actually temper John, which is pretty amazing,” the president told reporters last Thursday.

But there have been reports that the joke may be wearing thin and that Trump is growing concerned about the direction Bolton is leading him.

“John played Trump like a Stradivarius,” Groombridge, Bolton’s former aide, said. “John understands and knows the president very well … He knows to keep it very simple.

“[But] I think his influence has waned in the last month or so because he was, unfortunately, in my opinion, factually wrong about the strength of opposition in Venezuela. And now you’ve got a number of people squabbling … about what’s going on with respect to Iran.”

Groombridge added: “The problem is that we have a president who is so mercurial that you know he could wake up at four in the morning and just randomly tweet: John is gone.”

Is John Bolton the most dangerous man in the world?

The US is closer to war with Iran than it has been since the Bush years, or perhaps ever. And Bolton is largely to blame

Trump administration officials announce economic sanctions against Venezuela during press briefing at the White House in Washington<br>U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton arrives to address reporters as the Trump administration announces economic sanctions against Venezuela and the Venezuelan state owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PdVSA) during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young

‘But Bolton is on a fast track, seemingly aware that Trump’s time in office may be limited.’ Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters

Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton wants the United States to go to war with Iran.

We know this because he has been saying it for nearly two decades.

And everything that the Trump administration has done over its Iran policy, particularly since Bolton became Trump’s top foreign policy adviser in April of 2018, must be viewed through this lens, including the alarming US military posturing in the Middle East of the past two weeks.

Just after one month on the job, Bolton gave Trump the final push he needed to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, which at the time was (and still is, for now) successfully boxing in Iran’s nuclear program and blocking all pathways for Iran to build a bomb. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – as the Iran deal is formally known – was the biggest obstacle to Bolton’s drive for a regime change war, because it eliminated a helpful pretext that served so useful to sell the war in Iraq 17 years ago.

Since walking away from the deal, the Trump administration has claimed that with a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, it can achieve a “better deal” that magically turns Iran into a Jeffersonian democracy bowing to every and any American wish. But this has always been a fantastically bad-faith argument meant to obscure the actual goal (regime change) and provide cover for the incremental steps – the crushing sanctions, bellicose rhetoric, and antagonizing military maneuvers – that have now put the United States closer to war with Iran than it has been since at least the latter half of the Bush administration, or perhaps ever.

And Bolton has no qualms about manipulating or outright ignoring intelligence to advance his agenda, which is exactly what’s happening right now.

In his White House statement 10 days ago announcing (an already pre-planned) carrier and bomber deployment to the Middle East, Bolton cited “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Iran to justify the bolstered US military presence. But multiple sources who have seen the same intelligence have since said that Bolton and the Trump administration blew it “out of proportion, characterizing the threat as more significant than it actually was”. Even a British general operating in the region pushed back this week, saying he has seen no evidence of an increased Iranian threat.

What’s even more worrying is that Bolton knows what he’s doing. He’s “a seasoned bureaucratic infighter who has the skills to press forcefully for his views” – and he has a long history of using those skills to undermine American diplomacy and work toward killing arms control agreements.

As a senior official in the George W Bush administration, he played key role in the collapse of the Agreed Framework, the Clinton-era deal that froze North Korea’s plutonium nuclear program (the North Koreans tested their first bomb four years later).

He said he “felt like a kid on Christmas day” after he orchestrated the US withdrawal from the international criminal court in 2002. And now as a senior official in the Trump administration, he pushed for the US to withdrawal from a crucial nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

While it’s unclear how much of a role he played in scuttling Trump’s negotiations with Kim Jong-un in Hanoi last year, he publicly called for the so-called “Libya model” with the North Koreans (in other words, regime change by force). Just months before joining the administration, he tried to make the legal case for a preventive war against Pyongyang. And if you think he cares about the aftermath of war with North Korea, he doesn’t. Bolton was reportedly “unmoved” by a presentation during his time in the Bush administration of the catastrophic consequences of such a war. “I don’t do war. I do policy,” he said then.

So far, Bolton has been successful in moving the United States toward his desired outcome with Iran – if getting the Pentagon to draw up plans to send 120,000 US troops to the region to confront Iran is any indication. There are hopeful signs that we can avoid war, as US officials and our European allies, seemingly alarmed by what Bolton is up to, are sounding the alarm about the Trump administration skewing intelligence on Iran.

But Bolton is on a fast track, seemingly aware that Trump’s time in office may be limited. The question, ultimately, is whether the president can stick to his instincts of avoiding more military conflict, or acquiesce to a man hellbent on boxing him into a corner with no way out other than war with Iran.

About ivarjordre

painter, activist, writer, revolutionary, human
Dette innlegget vart posta under Asia, Imperialism, Our global world, Politic&Society og merkt , , , , , , , , . Bokmerk permalenkja.

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