John Bolton is no longer Donald Trump’s national security adviser and no right thinking person will mourn the departure of this noxious neocon.
Though, as befits the chaos of the Trump White House, there is a dispute over whether Bolton resigned or was fired, for a world laboring under the dead weight of US exceptionalism and the hegemonic posture it gives rise to, this particular dispute is otiose.
What is not in doubt is that, whereas President Trump embraced the credo of ‘America First’, Bolton’s religious attachment to ‘American Military Power First’ had long marked him out as an extremist, even within neocon circles.
Indeed, it is chilling to contemplate that if this warmongering zealot had had his way, Washington would likely have become embroiled in multiple hot wars and military actions across the world – with an ocean of blood being spilled in Latin America, Ukraine, on the Korean Peninsula and in the Middle East.
Trump’s appointment of Bolton in March 2018 came as damning evidence of the President’s abject surrender to the neocon and liberal interventionist lobby in Washington, all under the pressure of Russiagate.
His campaign pledges, to engage in serious diplomacy with America’s primary designated adversary, Russia, to recognize the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, draw down the US military presence in Afghanistan, talk to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, and revisit America’s commitment to NATO – all of this succeeded in pitching the War Party into paroxysms of barely concealed fury and angst.
Trump was besieged on the very day he entered the Oval Office by a Washington establishment that considered his election to have been an act of heresy in the first place. The objective of his liberal interventionist enemies was to box him in and prevent him from being able to act on his foreign policy instincts.
The small fact that those instincts were eminently sound, given the calamitous record of countries and societies that had been reduced to rubble at the behest of his predecessors, this mattered not.
In the fevered minds of the denizens of the War Party, the primary role of the President of the United States is the maintenance of an empire that has been forged in blood and is sustained by destruction in the name of hegemony and unipolarity.
So in the door came mad dog Bolton and out the door went reason and sanity.
The result? In short order, after the President contracted out his foreign policy to Messrs Bolton and Pompeo, the US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, pulled out of the INF (Intermediate Nuclear Forces) Treaty with Russia, and withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council.
And even where Trump did assert a measure of control on foreign policy – i.e. in sitting down with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un in Singapore and Hanoi – Bolton succeeded in reducing both summits to glorified photo-ops, convincing his boss to agree to making North Korea’s complete denuclearization an absurd condition of any lifting of crippling US sanctions.
Not satisfied with that, Bolton also did his utmost to effect regime change in Venezuela, attempting to install his own placeman, Juan Guaidó, in Caracas in place of the country’s elected President, Nicolás Maduro. Bolton’s Twitter feed throughout this particular crisis you’d imagine would have belonged to Al Capone if social media had been around in Prohibition-era Chicago.
As to the crisis with Iran, conflict seemed inevitable at various points over the summer, with Bolton known to have urged a military strike against the Islamic Republic in response to the downing of a US drone.
In deciding here to draw back from the brink, Trump demonstrated a rare example of sound leadership and wisdom in the Oval Office.
The casus belli, the proverbial straw which broke the camel’s back, was Bolton’s stern opposition to Trump’s attempt to bring closure to 18 years of US military deployment in Afghanistan – a country that even a blind person can see is destined to be ruled once again by the Taliban.
Looking ahead, Trump is a leader in desperate need of a meaningful breakthrough on foreign policy. His first term has been spent mired in a bitter struggle in Washington with the War Party for the right to shape that foreign policy according to the pledges he was elected on.
Fidelity to those pledges and to his own instincts demands that he now discard forever the notion of appointing another neocon ideologue in the now-vacant position of national security adviser. A fork in the road has been reached and the President has a decision to make.
Does he continue to proceed down the old and chaotic unipolar path of trying to be President of the World in the interests of a bloated military industrial complex?
Or does he embrace the opportunity of being President of the United States in the interests of the American people and a world in desperate need of stability, serious diplomacy and peace?
Returning, finally, to John Bolton, this draft-dodging reprobate. In bidding him farewell, the words of Winston Churchill are irresistible: “He has all of the virtues I dislike, and none of the vices I admire.”
By John Wight