Washington (GPA) – Infamous war-hawk John Bolton has been tapped to be the next National Security Adviser for the Trump Regime. Here’s why the world should worry.
US President Donald Trump announced last week that he’d be replacing his National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster – a hawk; but a pragmatic hawk – with notorious bloodthirsty lunatic, John Bolton. Bolton is a man who has not only endorsed some of the worst US war crimes in the last 30 years but also continues to stand by them despite most initiatives being proven failures.
While both McMaster and Bolton come out of similar neoconservative cesspools – both are members of the Council on Foreign Relations – McMaster at least operated in some version of reality, most likely due to his military experience. Bolton, on the other hand, is and always has been a pure ideologue since his earliest days in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush White Houses.
Even from his earliest days in government, John Bolton began in the perfect place for his type of regime-changing, “nation-building,” and hyper-interventionist ideas: the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This was at a time when subversion of legitimate governments was the preferred method of the Reagan administration, which used USAID’s “freedom promoting” tools to destabilize countries around the globe. Bolton was also later found to be among many prominent Reagan administration officials later found to be involved in the Iran-Contra affair.
While John Bolton may not have had a highly visible role during his time at USAID, he did show his true colors on foreign policy during the first Bush regime as Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs at the Department of State. From this position at the State Department, Bolton helped lead efforts in the early 90’s both advocating for the first Iraq War as well as overturning a 1970s United Nations resolution that classified Zionism as a form of Racism.
Bolton was sidelined from government during the Clinton Regime but still played a role in shaping some of Clinton’s most aggressive policy decisions such as pushing forward Republican proposals to extend the War on Drugs to include cracking down on undocumented immigrants.
John Bolton reentered government under George W. Bush, initially as the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and later as the permanent representative to the United Nations. During his time as Under Secretary of State, Bolton played a key role in the US decision to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) and exempt US nationals from prosecution, which Washington has said could be enforced by military intervention against The Hague. As Under Secretary, Bolton also helped negotiate reforms on enforcing a 1972 UN Biological Weapons Convention. These reforms included exempting the US from international inspections of their biological weapons facilities, despite the US claims to not even have offensive biological weapon stockpiles.
In 2005, Bolton was nominated by George W. Bush for the position of Permanent US Representative to the UN. With the above evidence already against Bolton by this point, it should be fairly obvious that his confirmation was sure to be controversial.
Bolton’s confirmation was blocked by a Democrat filibuster which later led to his appointment during a Congressional recess by Bush in August 2005, which bypassed the confirmation process until the legislators reconvened. Bolton’s next confirmation process began in July 2006, when Bolton found himself with even less support from legislators and his eventual withdrawal from the confirmation process in December of 2016.
Following his time in government moved on to the private sector and starting ventures such as his own Super PAC which has recently been tied to the theft of Facebook user data by conservative campaign consultant firm Cambridge Analytica.
Whether as a private citizen or government employee, John Bolton has a history of supporting some of the United States most destructive military interventions as well as worked to promote wars that even most of Washington deem too dangerous.
John Bolton Vs. The World
Here is a handy short list of countries Bolton has either cheered the destruction of, or has pleaded for the Pentagon to destroy:
During his time with the first Bush Regime, Bolton spent some time attempting to sabotage the negotiations with Libya under Muammar Qaddafi to end several weapons programs and surrender their nuclear arsenal. Even as the White House pushed for a productive agreement, Bolton continued to oppose the talks, which he was eventually isolated from to stop further negative effects.
The reasons behind Bolton’s opposition (as in the case of his opposition to many things) was that he would rather just go to war with countries like Libya rather than try to resolve anything diplomatically. While Bolton may not have wanted the talks with Qaddafi to be a success he was happy with the results, years later, when he supported Obama’s part in the NATO operation to depose the Libyan leader with an illegal bombing campaign.
As can be expected of a CFR alum, Bolton is a notorious Russophobe, yet now his rhetoric has reached a point that even makes his friends and the neoconservative defense industry think tank uneasy. However, Bolton does still share the same view as his colleagues at the CFR about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, which both he and the Council deem “an act of war.”
In July of 2017 in a piece for the Gatestone Institute Bolton laid out this thinking very clearly, writing: ” attempting to undermine America’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.” Similar to is feelings on Libya and other countries, Bolton also wrote in the piece that he also didn’t believe in diplomacy with Russia and warned the Trump Regime that negotiations “with today’s Russia”is “at your peril.” Bolton also promotes further sanctions against Russia, despite Trump’s hesitancy to implement the last set. These attitudes have already begun to cause concern in Moscow, with fears that Bolton will encourage further nuclear build up and trigger a new arms race.
Bolton’s quote from that same Gatestone Institute piece concerning Syria speaks for itself on his lack of will to negotiate any outcome in Syria that isn’t completely dictated by the US:
Any ceasefire necessarily relieves pressure on Assad on one front, which he can exploit on another. Even more troubling were Tillerson’s references to the regime’s future, implying discussions with Russia about a post-Assad Syria. If so, this would simply be a continuation of the Obama administration’s delusion that Moscow shared our interest in removing Assad. Russia would acquiesce only if another Russian stooge were to fill his shoes.
Iraq is one of the largest blackmarks on John Bolton’s record. Despite the war being a total failure leading to the destabilization of the entire Middle East Bolton still says he has no regrets in calling for the second US invasion of Iraq. Bolton has no concern over the fact that he helped light the entire region on fire, left over a million Iraqis dead, and cost the US trillions of dollars, financed with loans and theft from the social safety net.
While Bolton had blocked the international community’s attempts to look at US biological weapons in 2001, he had no problem denying reports of inspectors who went to Iraq and helping push false intelligence of Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons stockpiles and nuclear ambitions.
Bolton didn’t just support the Iraq war; in his view, Iraq was just base of operations for a future war with Iran. According to sources inside the second Bush White House, one senior official once said the phrase “Anyone can go to Baghdad. Real men go to Tehran,” which perfectly embodies John Bolton’s view on the supposed threat from Tehran.
Bolton isn’t just concerned with the supposed “Shia crescent,” spreading west from Tehran to the borders of Israel, he is also among those who peddle the claim that Iran is interfering to their east in Afghanistan by supporting the Taliban. Bolton doesn’t have any evidence to prove these claims, but maybe he knows something we don’t since he has experience arming the Taliban from his time in the Reagan Regime.
One of John Bolton’s favorite solutions for every problem is preemptive strikes, and Iran is no different. Bolton has called for preemptive strikes against Iran when the US was falsely accusing the country of pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Bolton also believes the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) was a mistake and supports Trump’s efforts to leave the agreed framework despite Iran’s continued compliance.
Bolton’s wish for a preemptive war with Iran has yet to come true so, for the time being, he has taken up supporting anti-government groups also backed by the CIA. Most prominent among these groups is the People’s Mujahideen of Iran (Mujahedeen Khalq, or MEK), an ‘Islamic Marxist’ cult whose leader, Maryam Rajavi, is sometimes described as the Pol Pot of Iran.
DPRK or North Korea
Another country where Bolton has called for a preemptive strike against is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Bolton most recently made the case for instituting a policy of regime change in the DPRK last month in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal.
More recently, despite denying Pyongyang has any good intentions in nuclear talks, Bolton has still called for negotiations to denuclearize North Korea in a similar manner to Libya. While Kim Jong Un has expressed some willingness to discuss denuclearization recently, it is unlikely this comment by Bolton will go unnoticed in Pyongyang since the DPRK cites Libya as their primary example why nuclear weapons are necessary for defense and will remember Bolton’s advocacy for regime change in Libya.
McMaster wasn’t opposed to finding a military solution to the tension on the Korean peninsula, but at the same time, he wasn’t as against the very concept of diplomacy like John Bolton, as well as Trump’s new Secretary of State: former-CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Exxon CEO turned Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and murderous General McMaster may have been evil but their comprehension of reality compared to Bolton and Pompeo makes them look like professional philosophers. With both possible talks between Trump and Kim Jong Un as well as the date for Trump to re-validate the Iran deal approaching, the new company being kept by the President is a cause for concern.
James Carey is an organizer based in Detroit, Michigan, founder of Geopolitics Alert, and an experienced analyst on Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey. He also covers topics ranging from Latin America and Asia to Europe. You can also hear James in his weekly podcast; The Left is Dead which he co-hosts with investigative journalist Jake Anderson.