John (“Bomb Iran”) Bolton, the New Warmonger in the White House
Robin Wright, The New Yorker, March 23 2018
Hawks are closing in on the White House. John Bolton, arguably the most abrasive American diplomat of the twenty-first century, will soon assume the top foreign-policy job at the National Security Council. As is his wont, President Trump announced yet another shakeup of his inner circle in a tweet late on Thursday. He dismissed General H. R. McMaster, who couldn’t survive a testy relationship with the impatient President despite his battle-hardened career and three stars on his epaulets. Trump tapped Bolton to take over. A former U.N. Ambassador, currently best known as a Fox News pundit, Bolton has advocated far harder positions than Trump, including bombing campaigns, wars, and regime change. The late-day news flash sent chills across Washington, even among some Republicans.
With Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, due to take over from the ousted Rex Tillerson at the State Department, the team deciding American actions across the globe will now be weighted by hard-liners and war advocates. Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired Marine general, is the most pragmatic policymaker left. What an irony. (And how long will Mattis stay? He was photographed having dinner with Tillerson on Tuesday.)
Bolton, a Yale-educated lawyer whose trademark is a white walrus mustache,championed the invasion of Iraq, in 2003, which produced chaos followed by waves of extremist violence in the region. He also advocated international intervention to oust Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. He has repeatedly urged military action in Iran and North Korea, which he has called “two sides of the same coin.”
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, written two months ago, Bolton condemned the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran as a “massive strategic blunder”—then went further. American policy, he wrote, “should be ending Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution before its fortieth anniversary” next February. “Recognizing a new Iranian regime in 2019 would reverse the shame of once seeing our diplomats held hostage for four hundred and forty-four days. The former hostages can cut the ribbon to open the new U.S. Embassy in Tehran.”
Shortly before the Iran deal—brokered by the world’s six major powers—Bolton wrote a piece in the Times entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” In it, he predicted, “Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.” Three months later, Iran accepted the nuclear deal, the most significant nonproliferation treaty in more than a quarter century. The deal was endorsed unanimously in a U.N. resolution. Trump has vowed that he will withdraw from the deal without fixes by mid-May, a move that Bolton clearly supports.
Bolton has also long backed a cultlike Iranian opposition group, theMujahideen-e Khalq, or M.E.K., which has been held responsible for the murder of multiple American military personnel, a kidnapping attempt of a U.S. Ambassador, and other violent attacks in Iran before the 1979 revolution. The M.E.K. was based in Iraq during the regime of Saddam Hussein, who provided arms, financial assistance, and political support. In 1997, it was among the first groups cited on the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations. It wasn’t removed until 2012. Bolton spoke at an M.E.K. rally last year—for the eighth time—in Paris. Other speakers at M.E.K. rallies have reportedly been paid tens of thousands of dollars for their appearances.
Bolton’s policy recommendations on North Korea are also militant, and they break with the man who just hired him. Earlier this month, Trump pledged to meet Kim Jong Un by May. “Talking to North Korea is worse than a mere waste of time,” Bolton wrote in the Hill, in August. “Negotiations legitimize the dictatorship, affording it more time to enhance its nuclear and ballistic-missile capabilities. Today, only one diplomatic option remains, and it does not involve talking to Pyongyang. Instead, President Trump should urge President Xi Jinping that reunifying the Korean Peninsula is in China’s national interest.”
The answer to China’s fear of an uncontrolled collapse, Bolton wrote, “is a jointly managed effort to dismantle North Korea’s government, effectively allowing the swift takeover of the North by the South.” Not even the South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, supports that idea; he has been trying to broker a rapprochement with the North.
The deepest disagreement between Bolton and Trump may be over Russia—especially its President, Vladimir Putin. In an op-ed last July, Bolton wrote that undermining the U.S. Constitution “is far more than just a quotidian covert operation. It is in fact a casus belli, a true act of war, and one Washington will never tolerate.” He charged that Trump had been duped by Putin in their meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, last summer.
Bolton has worked for three Republican Presidents—Reagan and both Bushes. He gained his reputation as a feisty hawk after George W. Bush appointed him to be Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. By 2005, he was so controversial that his nomination to be U.N. Ambassador failed to win Senate approval, and Bush appointed him as a “recess appointment” when Congress was not in session.
The United Nations was an odd fit. In 1994, Bolton said,“There is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that’s the United States, when it suits our interests and when we can get others to go along.” He later said about the world body, “The Secretariat Building in New York has thirty-eight stories. If you lost ten stories today, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”
When I covered the George W. Bush Administration, I often heard grumbling about Bolton being irascible and argumentative. He had deep disagreements with both Secretaries of State, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. He ultimately had a falling out with President Bush, who lamented his support for Bolton. “Let me just say from the outset that I don’t consider Bolton credible,” he said, according to an account in the Times, in 2008. The same year, Boltoncountered in the Wall Street Journal, “Nothing can erase the ineffable sadness of an American presidency, like this one, in total intellectual collapse.”
After Bolton’s appointment, on Thursday, I spoke to John B. Bellinger III, the former legal adviser to the N.S.C. and the State Department, who worked with Bolton for two years. “John may be the only senior person in the White House with significant diplomatic experience, both bilateral and multilateral,” Bellinger said. “He has negotiated with most of the governments in the world, which is helpful, given that Trump has not. John tends to annoy and frustrate and try to steam roll other countries. But at least he’s not ignorant of diplomatic relationships.”
Bolton negotiated strong U.N. resolutions on North Korea, Bellinger told me. “He also famously repudiated the U.S. signature to the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court. He’s not a fan of international law or international institutions, which he may think can challenge U.S. sovereignty.” Bellinger was more sanguine about how stubborn Bolton will be at the National Security Council. “We’ll have to hope that some of the aggressive actions John suggested when he was not in government—and more of a provocateur—may look a lot different to him when he’s responsible for the actions or advising the President on final decisions and he has other Cabinet secretaries telling him what the consequences will be.”
Although Bolton has experience in the White House Situation Room, navigating the interagency process may be challenging when he is surrounded by the many people with strong views in this Administration, Bellinger said. “John does not suffer fools gladly. He may have a challenging time as national-security adviser with a President who is not interested in facts or history.”
The Bolton nomination provoked strong reactions in Washington. On the Hill, the Democratic Senator Edward Markey, of Massachusetts, tweeted, “With the appointments of Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, @realDonaldTrump is successfully lining up his war cabinet. Bolton played a key role in politicizing the intel that misled us into the Iraq War. We cannot let this extreme war hawk blunder us into another terrible conflict.”
Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran and chairperson of VoteVets, the largest progressive veterans group, called Bolton’s appointment “downright frightening.” In a statement, he said, “A man who was key in sending me and thousands and thousands of my fellow troops to Iraq is now the National Security Adviser to Donald Trump. Let there be no mistake—there is no war for regime change, anywhere, that John Bolton wasn’t for. He sees troops not as human beings, with families, but as expendable resources, in his real-life game of Risk. We are undoubtedly closer to a war in Korea, now, and a war with Iran.”
Soltz added, “To the Trump voters out there we say: You were suckered. You were lied to, and now our troops are going to have to pay the price, for that.”
Robin Wright is a contributing writer for newyorker.com, and has written for the magazine since 1988. She is the author of“Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World.”
Let’s Call Bolton What He Is: A War Criminal with Terrorist Ties, Not Just “Hawkish”
In a sane society, people like Bolton wouldn’t be allowed on television, much less put in charge of American security.
Juan Cole, Common dreams, March 23 2018
John Bolton helped lie our country into an illegal war of aggression that killed several hundred thousand Iraqis, wounded over a million, and displaced 4 million from their homes, helped deliver Baghdad into the hands of Iran, and helped create ISIL, which blew up Paris. In a just world, Bolton would be on trial at the Hague for war crimes. Instead, he has been promoted into a position to do to Iran what he did to Iraq.
He is also in the back pocket of the MEK Iranian terrorist organization, which despite its violent and smelly past has proved so useful to those plotting the apocalyptic destruction of Iran that the Washington elite decided to take it off the list of terrorist organizations in 2012.
The acceptable political spectrum inside the Beltway in Washington DC is a marvel to behold. Bernie Sanders, a long-serving senator and public servant won 13.2 million popular votes to 16.8 million votes for Hillary Clinton (i.e. he was backed by 43% of one of the two major parties in the country). But Sanders was virtually blacked out from corporate television coverage during his impressive presidential bid, while Jeff Zucker turned CNN over to Trump every night at 7:30 pm throughout the summer and fall of 2016 and just let him talk, or whatever he does, for an hour without even a semblance of journalistic analysis. Supposedly left-leaning MSNBC did the same thing.
America’s corporations love the fascist side of the spectrum, which is obvious from the way they promoted Trump and Trumpism. Zucker also hired Cory Lewandowski, who was at the time contractually obligated to avoid criticizing Trump, as a CNN commentator. Fascism after all favors big corporations and vilifies and punishes workers and the poor. Under Mussolini, the Italian poor were plunged into much deeper poverty.
Television news also loves the maniacal side of the spectrum. You seldom see normal people as commentators on cable news, and much of the commentary is polarized and superficial and often simply incorrect on the facts of the matter. Sometimes it is even just a criminal conspiracy. During the Iraq War, the NYT revealed that the Pentagon successfully pressed on CNN a gaggle of former generals, many of them actively making money off of the Iraq War through contracting while they were promoting it on television. They presented an Alice in Wonderland view of the brutal US occupation of that country as a shining success. Tom Fenton, a career television journalist, once wrote a book suggesting that television news is so bad that it is actually a standing risk for US security, since an uninformed or misinformed public cannot play the democratic role of watchdog and is not being alerted to genuine threats. Maybe the maniacs draw eyeballs and increase advertising dollars. Maybe Wall Street doesn’t see people as maniacs as long as they advocate giving billionaires more money.
The fascination with the far right wing and with the maniacal dovetails in the person of Bolton, now Trump’s National Security Adviser. Jesus said that if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch. The ditch in this case could well be a ruinous war with Iran.
In a sane society, people like Bolton wouldn’t be allowed on television, much less put in charge of American security.
Bolton has assiduously tried to do the same thing he did to Iraq to Iran. Big corporations like wars. Wars mean you have to manufacture more shiny children-murdering weapons and bombs, the ultimate in planned obsolescence. No war, and the factories fall silent and the money-counting stops. People called “hawks” in Washington, a euphemism for “murderous maniacs,” often get supported one way or another by the arms industry. Sometimes it is direct and their bank accounts should be examined.
Iran has never had a nuclear weapons program, and as long as the nuclear deal holds, it has no opportunity to develop them. It has no heavy water reactor. It has a limited number of centrifuges. It destroyed its stockpile of uranium enriched to 19.5% for its medical reactor. It is being actively inspected. No country under active UN arms inspections has ever developed a bomb.
Bolton wants to bomb Iran so badly that he does not care about these facts. He wanted to bomb Iran himself if he could, sort of like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove. If not he wanted to have the Israelis do it.
He has a list. He’d like to bomb nuclear-armed North Korea, too.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that keeps that clock showing how many minutes the world is away from a nuclear midnight can put it away. With Bolton’s appointment, it is past midnight.
Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His new book, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East (Simon and Schuster), will officially be published July 1st. He is also the author of Engaging the Muslim World and Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East (both Palgrave Macmillan). He has appeared widely on television, radio and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon.com. He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. His weblog on the contemporary Middle East is Informed Comment.
John Bolton is Not A “Hawk”. He’s A Draft Dodger Big Time.
Michael Moate, National one news foundation, March 23 2018
John Bolton has never had a position that matches his appetites for power, meaning not he’s not been given power to do as he fantasizes. which appears to be compensatory greed for bloodshed to compensate for the fact that he’s never been to war, in fact draft dodged and brags about it.
An actual hawk is brave, cares for his kin, soars far more than killing. Has acute sight, does not make enemies to make enemies. So beautiful, the hawk is considered an emblem not of war, but of freedom and majesty and kinship.
Hawk is not an accurate name for Bolton. There are others…
“During the 1969 Vietnam War draft lottery, Bolton drew number 185. (Draft numbers corresponded to birth dates.)[ Vietnam Extra (November 25, 2009). “What’s Your Number? The Vietnam War Selective Service Lottery”. Vietnam Magazine. History Net.]
As a result of the Johnson and Nixon administrations’ decisions to rely largely on the draft rather than on the reserve forces, joining a Guard or Reserve unit became a way to avoid service in the Vietnam War.[Schmidt, William E. (August 20, 1988). “Some Now in Congress Joined Reserve or Guard”. nytimes.com/. New York. It has also recalled the complex, changing and often criticized system by which young men, particularly those who were white, from the upper and middle classes and college educated, were able to avoid military service altogether by using student deferments or other exclusions, or to ease their service by seeking haven from possible combat duty in the Reserves or National Guard.]
Bolton enlisted in the Maryland Army National Guard in 1970 rather than wait to find out if his draft number would be called.[United States Senate (2005). “The Nomination of John R. Bolton to be U.S. Representative to the United Nations”. www.congress.gov. United States Congress. Retrieved November 15, 2016.] (The highest number called to military service was 195.
After serving in the National Guard for four years, he served in the United States Army Reserve until the end of his enlistment two years later. He wrote in his Yale 25th reunion book “I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost.”[ Ross Goldberg and Sam Kahn, “Bolton’s conservative ideology has roots in Yale experience” Archived September 24, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., Yale Daily News, April 28, 2005.]
But there is more, showing not the vision of the hawk, but more the disgraceful efforts by Bolton to undermine others for his own reasons, to be underhanded about it, and not acting in the ‘national interests.’
Bolton was instrumental in derailing a 2001 biological weapons conference in Geneva convened to endorse a UN proposal to enforce the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention. “U.S. officials, led by Bolton, argued that the plan would have put U.S. national security at risk by allowing spot inspections of suspected U.S. weapons sites, despite the fact that the U.S. claims not to have carried out any research for offensive purposes since 1969.”[“Bolton Linked to Firing of U.N. Arms Monitor”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 12, 2015.]
Also in 2002, Bolton is said to have flown to Europe to demand the resignation of Brazilian José Bustani, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and to have orchestrated his removal at a special session of the organization.[Ibid]
The United Nations’ highest administrative tribunal later condemned the action as an “unacceptable violation” of principles protecting international civil servants. Bustani had been unanimously re-elected for a four-year term-with strong U.S. support-in May 2000, and in 2001 was praised for his leadership by Colin Powell.[ “Bolton said to orchestrate unlawful firing”. AP via USA Today. June 4, 2005. Retrieved April 25, 2011.]
He also pushed for reduced funding for the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program to halt the proliferation of nuclear materials.[ Alternet.org Archived May 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.]
To end for now: Bolton speaks publicly of his loathing of North Korea for years. His pronouncements include strongly supporting Bolton has spoken in favor of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (also known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK), “an armed Islamic group which had long been on the U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. In the 1970s, MEK members, who “had been trained by the Soviet Union in guerilla warfare and supported Khomeini … assassinated U.S. military officers then working in Iran. MEK members actively took part in the 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, according to a U.S. government report.”
It appears unstable bloodlust, anger at others instead of tact/diplomacy is Bolton’s main m.o. I can only say imo that if Bolton had served in the Viet Nam war instead of evading it, he might be a different person today. He might have saved lives. He may have found brotherhood based on heart instead of mere plastic ambition.
My father who lived through war, used to say never give a king an army, for the mad kings of the world will send your young, not theirs, to their deaths –for momentary satisfaction like a sex addict chalks up one, and then onto the next, the next. That the mad kings are insatiable.
The time to act in resistance to this ‘cabinet’ that more resembles Dr. Calgaris, than a cabinet in a democracy that so many many have die for… the time would be now. All hands on deck. Each in their own ways that are effective.
We appear to be at a similar moment to Hitler taking the mantle, the ridiculousness of believing props that Nam and Korea as ‘dominoes’ would be the end of the world, the absurdity of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ that were non existent. And in all those cases, in the aggregate, millions were killed. Millions.
Not again. We have the insights, know the pattern toward destruction of our young. Never again. Truths will out, if we will carry them.
And Mainstream Media, by the way, stop pounding the drums of war by elevating such as Bolton as ‘hawks’, and that pitiful Trump is ‘building a war cabinet.’ No. No building of anything; just a mad king-child breaking his toys in his ongoing rages.
If there’s a fire, and some souls are awake, our job is to awaken others who are still sleeping … our senators and congressmen/women, would like to know they will be voted out of office if they continue to pretend to not see what they see, in spades. Now is the time.
Photo: by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (John Bolton) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Spokesman: Bolton’s Appointment Indicates US Continued Support for Anti-Iran Terrorists
Fars News, Tehran, March 23 2018
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970103000563TEHRAN (FNA)- Spokesman of Iran’s Guardian Council Abbas Ali Kadkhodayee underlined that appointment of John Bolton, the main supporter of Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO, also known as the MEK, PMOI and NCRI), shows Washington’s continued support for the terrorist groups operating against Iran.
Kadkhodayee’s remarks came after US President Donald Trump announced plans on Thursday to replace his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, with John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the UN and a military intervention hawk.
Bolton, as the American sponsor of anti-Iran Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) terrorist group, has managed to grab the highest political position in Trump’s government, Kadkhodayee wrote on his Telegram channel on Friday.
He wrote that the MKO, the most hated terrorist group among the Iranians, has carried out numerous terrorist attacks against the Iranian civilians and government officials and sided with the former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, during the eight-year Iraqi-imposed war against Iran in the 1980s.
“Now the question is why Bolton has been assumed to a sensitive position, while he is a stubborn supporter of anti-Iran terrorist group, the MKO,” he asked.
The MKO, founded in the 1960s, blended elements of Islamism and Stalinism and participated in the overthrow of the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979. Ahead of the revolution, the MKO conducted attacks and assassinations against both Iranian and western targets.
The group started assassination of the citizens and officials after the revolution in a bid to take control of the newly-established Islamic Republic. It killed several of Iran’s new leaders in the early years after the revolution, including the then President, Mohammad Ali Rajayee, Prime Minister, Mohammad Javad Bahonar and the Judiciary Chief, Mohammad Hossein Beheshti who were killed in bomb attacks by the MKO members in 1981.
The group fled to Iraq in 1986, where it was protected by Saddam Hussein and where it helped the Iraqi dictator suppress Shiite and Kurd uprisings in the country.
The terrorist group joined Saddam’s army during the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988) and helped Saddam and killed thousands of Iranian civilians and soldiers during the US-backed Iraqi imposed war on Iran.
Since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the group, which now adheres to a pro-free-market philosophy, has been strongly backed by neo-conservatives in the United States, who argued for the MKO to be taken off the US terror list.
The US formally removed the MKO from its list of terror organizations in September 2012, one week after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent the US Congress a classified communication about the move. The decision made by Clinton enabled the group to have its assets under the US jurisdiction unfrozen and do business with the American entities, the State Department said in a statement at the time.
In September 2012, the last groups of the MKO terrorists left Camp Ashraf, their main training center in Iraq’s Diyala province. They have been transferred to Camp Liberty. Hundreds of the MKO terrorists have now been sent to Europe, where their names were taken off the blacklist even two years before the US.
The MKO has assassinated over 12,000 Iranians in the last 4 decades. The terrorist group had even killed large numbers of Americans and Europeans in several terror attacks before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Some 17,000 Iranians have lost their lives in terror attacks in the 35 years after the Revolution.
Rumors were confirmed in September 2016 about the death of MKO ringleader, Massoud Rajavi, as a former top Saudi intelligence official disclosed in a gaffe during an address to his followers.
Rajavi’s death was revealed after Turki al-Faisal who was attending the MKO annual gathering in Paris made a gaffe and spoke of the terrorist group’s ringleader as the “late Rajavi” twice.
Faced with Faisal’s surprising gaffe, Rajavi’s wife, Maryam, changed her happy face with a complaining gesture and cued the interpreter to be watchful of translation words and exclude the gaffe from the Persian translation.