US National Security Advisor John Bolton is driving a war policy towards Iran based on nothing but his own deranged world view and anti-Iran obsession.
To be sure, Trump has his own irrational hostility towards Iran and has unwisely embraced the anti-Iran counsel of Israel’s Netanyahu as well as the despotic Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who views Shia Iran as the devil incarnate.
President Trump would do America and the world a favor if he got rid of him immediately.
The escalation of US military forces and rhetoric against Iran is largely down to one person – Bolton, the same person who advocated for the criminal, disastrous American war in Iraq under the George W. Bush administration. That war based on lies spun by Bolton and others resulted in over one million dead, millions of displaced Iraqis, thousands of American casualties, trillions of dollars in US debt and a region inflamed with conflict and terrorism.
Seventy-year-old Bolton – a Vietnam War-era draft dodger – should be in a prison as a convicted war criminal, not now once again pushing another war based on faulty intelligence.
Donald Trump, the titular Commander-in-Chief of US forces, appears to be being led into another disastrous war by Bolton. Trump, known for his attention-span deficit, is no doubt preoccupied with fighting a trade war with China, and as a result has allowed his national
security advisor to run the policy on Iran. Trump needs to pull rank and get Bolton off the job – before World War III erupts. Make no mistake, if a war erupts with Iran it will likely draw in other international powers, including Russia, and go nuclear.
The latest sign of Bolton’s errant warmongering comes from frank comments made by a senior British military commander who told reporters in a briefing this week that he saw no increase in offensive threats from Iran or Iranian proxies in the Middle East. Major General Christopher Ghika directly contradicted John Bolton’s claims made last week that US interests were in imminent danger from an Iranian-backed attack.
“No, there has been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq or Syria,” said Ghika who is deputy commander of the US-led military coalition ostensibly combating Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).
The British general is not alone. Several European and American officials have also been quoted in media reports saying that Bolton’s assessment of security risk from Iran or its alleged proxies are overblown.
“Intelligence and military officials in Europe as well as in the United States said that over the past year, most aggressive moves have originated not in Tehran, but in Washington — where John R. Bolton, the national security advisor, has prodded President Trump into backing Iran into a corner,” reported the New York Times this week.
That skepticism was manifest when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with European Union ministers earlier this week. British, French and German officials urged Pompeo to scale back American hostility towards Iran, indicating that they did not share Washington’s ramped up warnings of Iranian threats.
On a subsequent visit to Russia to meet President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Pompeo asserted that the “US is not fundamentally seeking a war with Iran.” If we take Pompeo at his word, that may be so. But the fundamental problem is that the Trump administration has given the reins of Iran policy to Bolton who is an unmitigated war hawk for regime change in Tehran. Prior to his post as national security advisor, Bolton exulted in calls for a military attack on Iran for regime change.
The incendiary problem with Bolton’s recent warnings of “unrelenting response” to “Iran or its proxies” if they were to attack US interests is that the red line is so expansive, vague and prone to paranoid imagination – of which Bolton has plenty.
In Bolton’s anti-Iran obsession, he sees Tehran’s hand everywhere in the Middle East, much like his fellow-traveler Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Iran, accordingly, is supposedly pulling the strings of Shia militia in Iraq and Syria, is calling the shots from Lebanon’s Hezbollah, as well as Hamas in Gaza and Houthi rebels in Yemen. Iran may well have links and sympathies to these groups, but in Bolton’s fevered worldview any activity against American interests can be ascribed to Iran, thereby triggering the “unrelenting response” of US war that he so desires.
The whole powder-keg situation created by Bolton is liable to ignite over the slightest spark, misinterpretation, miscalculation or malicious contrivance.
Take the alleged sabotage of four oil tankers this week in the Gulf of Oman off the Emirati port city of Fujairah. Saudi officials were saying that one of the tankers was on the way to collect crude oil for export to the US. That would constitute a vital American interest, as per Bolton. It would not take much speculation to push the notion that Iranian forces or “proxies” were behind the alleged sabotage, even though Tehran warned that the incident was suspiciously orchestrated.
Or take the drone attack days later on Saudi oil installations by Houthi rebels from Yemen. The Houthis said the strike was in retaliation for Saudi aggression in their country. Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih condemned the Houthis as “Iranian-backed,” even though there is no reliable evidence of that. Again, that incident could be easily twisted as attributed to Iranian responsibility by the war hawks.
John Bolton is not only recklessly pushing Iran into a corner. He is also pushing President Trump into a corner too. It was Bolton who took a lead in urging Trump to abandon the nuclear accord with Iran and pursue the policy of maximum pressure to drive Iranian oil exports down to zero.
Nevertheless, there is still a chance that Trump has no personal intention of starting a war with Iran. His inclinations tend to be against costly overseas US military interventions. Trump has even proffered the prospect of one day “sitting down to talks” with the present Iranian government. Trump is no dove when it comes to antagonizing Iran. But his hostility towards Tehran – deplorable and misguided that it is – is probably not up to the threshold for an all-out war.
Bolton on the other hand is pushing that threshold for all his inimical worth.
Trump needs to pull the world back from the precipice of war – a war that would inevitably become a world conflagration involving nuclear weapons.
By Finian Cunningham