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Tag Archives: John Bolton

Has Trump Turned an Important Corner? by Tom Luongo

Is Trump ready to shed his neoconservative advisors and their idiotic policies and listen to his own instincts? From Tom Luongo at strategic-culture.org:

Donald Trump’s surprise visit to North Korea last week was impressive. It was a bold first step in repairing a foreign policy in tatters after more than a year of assaults by his neoconservative boobsie-twins Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Trump took Kim at his word who said after talks broke down thanks to Bolton and Pompeo in Hanoi that no dialogue would be possible if Bolton was involved.

So, Trump sent Bolton to Mongolia. Then he went to Korea and did the one thing he had to do to begin unraveling the mess he’d gotten himself into.

Last week I asked where does Trump go after his confrontation with Iran? Trump answered that question in dramatic fashion. And he deserves a lot of credit for it.

But what does this mean in the wider context? It’s a good first step but we’ve seen this game from him before, making bold moves only to be reined in by his staff.

I would say that the optics of sending Bolton to Mongolia are pretty clear. Bolton’s time in the White House is nearly over. This is also a strong signal to Iran that Trump trying to back down without actually saying that.

The drone incident was intended to box Trump into a path to war with Iran after the tanker attack in the Gulf of Oman two weeks prior. That was likely not the Iranians but the Saudis and/or MEK, again trying to get Trump to fly off the handle, since he’s easily manipulated into emotional acts.

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Boxed in by Neocons and the Media, Will Trump Launch Iran War? by Ron Paul

Is Trump really boxed in? From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

President Trump did the smart thing last week by calling off a US airstrike on Iran over the downing of an American spy drone near or within Iranian territorial waters. According to press reports, the president over-ruled virtually all his top advisors – Bolton, Pompeo, and Haspel – who all wanted another undeclared and unauthorized US war in the Middle East.

Is Iran really the aggressive one? When you unilaterally pull out of an agreement that was reducing tensions and boosting trade; when you begin applying sanctions designed to completely destroy another country’s economy; when you position military assets right offshore of that country; when you threaten to destroy that country on a regular basis, calling it a campaign of “maximum pressure,” to me it seems a stretch to play the victim when that country retaliates by shooting a spy plane that is likely looking for the best way to attack.

Even if the US spy plane was not in Iranian airspace – but it increasingly looks like it was – it was just another part of an already-existing US war on Iran. Yes, sanctions are a form of war, not a substitute for war.

The media are also a big part of the problem. The same media that praised Trump as “presidential” when he fired rockets into Syria on what turned out to be false claims that Assad gassed his own people, has been attacking Trump for not bombing Iran. From Left to Right – with one important exception – the major media is all braying for war. Why? They can afford to cheer death and destruction because they will not suffer the agony of war. Networks will benefit by capturing big ratings and big money and new media stars will be born.

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Proof

https://www.theburningplatform.com/2019/06/23/proof/

How John Bolton Controls The Administration And Donald Trump, by Moon of Alabama

If John Bolton really controls the administration and Trump, we’re doomed. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.com:

Jeff Bezos’ blog, the Washington Post, has some bits on the discussion and infighting in the Trump administration about the march towards war on Iran. The piece opens with news of a new redline the Trump administration set out:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has privately delivered warnings intended for Iranian leaders that any attack by Tehran or its proxies resulting in the death of even one American service member will generate a military counterattack, U.S. officials said.

While such attacks were common during the Iraq War, Pompeo told Iraqi leaders in a message he knew would be relayed to Tehran that a single American fatality would prompt the United States to hit back.

That warning was sent in May when Pompeo visited Baghdad. The issue may soon become critical. Throughout the last days there were rocket attacks in Iraq against targets where U.S. personnel is present. The AFP correspondent in Baghdad lists six of them:

Maya Gebeily – @GebeilyM – 10:20 UTC – 19 Jun 2019Timeline of attacks on US interests in #Iraq
Fri: Mortars hit Balad base, where US troops based
Sun: Projectiles hit #Baghdad mil airport
Mon: Rockets on Taji, where coalition forces based
Tues: Mortars on #Mosul ops HQ
Wed: Rockets on housing/ops center used by IOCs near #Basra

#IRAQ: @AFP learns there were at least *two* attacks near US oil interests in #Basra in last 24 hours – ExxonMobil + Baker Hughes, a GE Company Their senior staff are being evacuated.

At least some of these attacks came from areas where Islamic State underground groups are still active. The weapons used were improvised and imprecise.

That shows how stupid the red line is that Pompeo set out. He would attack Iran if an errant ISIS rocket by chance kills some U.S. soldier? That is nuts.

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Bolton’s Long Goodbye, by John Kiriakou

Let’s hope the increasingly loud rumors of Bolton’s departure are correct. From John Kiriakou at consortiumnews.com:

John Bolton’s days as national security advisor are apparently numbered—for reasons that have all played out in the press, says John Kiriakou.

Everybody in America knows that Donald Trump places a premium on what he considers to be “loyalty.” You’re either with him or against him. The White House staff has been a revolving door from virtually the start of his administration. It’s not unusual for aides to last mere weeks or months, only to then be thrown out on the street.

Trump then inevitably says something about “loyalty.”

The situation isn’t unique to just the White House political and domestic policy staff. It is just as pervasive at the National Security Council. Nobody is sacred. Remember, you’re either with him or against him. Now it’s John Bolton’s turn to find himself in a corner. I believe that his days as national security advisor are numbered—for reasons that have all played out in the press.

I’m one of those people—not at all unique in Washington—who has contacts and friends all over the political spectrum, including in the Trump Administration. After work and over drinks, they like to vent. What they are telling me privately is what other Washington insiders are telling the conservative press. The White House, and especially the National Security Council, are in disarray. And Bolton will soon be fired.

Bolton-Centric

Bolton: On the way out?

The right-wing Washington Examiner reported this week that Bolton acknowledged these reports, but in a back-handed way. He said in a Wall Street Journal podcast that he believes five countries are spreading “lies about dysfunction in the Trump administration.” Those countries are North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Russia, and China. That’s laughable.

What Bolton is saying is that there is a vast and incredibly well-coordinated international conspiracy that includes some of the most important countries in the world, the main purpose of which is to embarrass him. That sounds perfectly rational, right?

Of course, a more rational person might conclude that Bolton has done a terrible job, that the people around him have done a terrible job, that he has aired his disagreements with Trump in the media, and that the President is angry about it. That’s the more likely scenario.

Here’s what my friends are saying. Trump is concerned, like any president is near the end of his term, about his legacy. He said during the campaign that he wanted to be the president who pulled the country out of its two longest wars. He wanted to declare victory and bring the troops back from Afghanistan and Iraq. He hasn’t done that, largely at the insistence of Bolton. Here we are three years later and we’re still stuck in both of those countries.

Second, my friends say that Trump wants to end U.S. involvement in the Yemen war, but that Bolton has been insistent that the only way to guarantee the closeness of the U.S. relationships with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is to keep providing those countries with weapons, aerial refueling planes, and intelligence support.

Obsessed With Iran

That would explain the reason why the White House did not seek to block the recent Congressional vote on Yemen support. Bolton likely talked Trump into vetoing the resolution. Or he talked the Saudis into talking Trump into it. Still, at least in internal deliberations, Trump has said that he simply doesn’t see a national security reason to keep the war going. The U.S. gets nothing out of it.

Third, the mainstream media has accused Bolton of being the reason behind the failure of Trump’s second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Bolton towed a hard line, so much so that the North Korean media called him a “war monger” and a “human defect” once the summit ended.

This week Trump told reporters gathered on the White House south lawn that Kim had “kept his word” on nuclear and missile testing. This was a direct contradiction of Bolton, who had said just hours earlier that the North Koreans had reneged on their commitments to the U.S. Trump said simply, “My people think there could have been a violation. I view it differently.”

Protest against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman outside Saudi-US CEO Forum in New York , March 27, 2018 (Ben Norton)

Most importantly, Bolton has been famous for decades for his irrationally hard line on Iran. He has made no secret of his desire to bomb Iran into the stone age, to smash and overthrow its government, and to let the chips fall where they may. The policy makes literally no sense.

Iran is a country of 80 million people. It has an active and well-trained global intelligence service. It has a robust navy with highly-specialized “swift boats” that are active in the Persian Gulf. And it controls the vital Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of the world’s oil and 33 percent of its liquified natural gas flows.

Trump said just a week ago that he was willing to begin talks with the Iranians “with no preconditions.” This was a major softening of U.S. policy toward Iran and it immediately drew Bolton’s ire. Indeed, The New York Times pointed out that the policy directly “overruled a longtime goal of (Trump’s) national security advisor.”

All of this has made Trump angry. He’s constantly being one-upped by one of the Washington swamp monsters he promised to rid the city of. He finally seems to have come to realize that even establishment Republicans dislike and distrust John Bolton. And now he understands why.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s chief of staff, has very quietly and discreetly begun informal meetings with a list of a half-dozen possible replacements for Bolton. Let’s hope he finds one that he and Trump both like sooner, rather than later.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act—a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

 

The Navy’s War vs. Bolton’s War, by Michael T. Klare

Having lost a string of wars since World War II against Junior Varsities, the US military is spoiling for a war against the Chinese Varsity. That should go well. From Michael T. Klare at tomdispatch.com:

The Pentagon’s Spoiling for a Fight — But With China, Not Iran

The recent White House decision to speed the deployment of an aircraft carrier battle group and other military assets to the Persian Gulf has led many in Washington and elsewhere to assume that the U.S. is gearing up for war with Iran. As in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, U.S. officials have cited suspect intelligence data to justify elaborate war preparations. On May 13th, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan even presented top White House officials with plans to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East for possible future combat with Iran and its proxies. Later reports indicated that the Pentagon might be making plans to send even more soldiers than that.

Hawks in the White House, led by National Security Advisor John Bolton, see a war aimed at eliminating Iran’s clerical leadership as a potentially big win for Washington. Many top officials in the U.S. military, however, see the matter quite differently — as potentially a giant step backward into exactly the kind of low-tech ground war they’ve been unsuccessfully enmeshed in across the Greater Middle East and northern Africa for years and would prefer to leave behind.

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Amassing War Powers, Bolton Rips a Page Out of Cheney’s Playbook, by Barbara Boland

If Bolton becomes dominant enough within the Trump administration, the only person he’ll have to convince to go to war with Iran will be Trump. From Barbara Boland at theamericanconservative.com:

National Security Advisor John Bolton By Christopher Halloran /Shutterstock And Vice President Dick Cheney By Joseph Sohm /Shutterstock

The elevation of Patrick Shanahan to the secretary of defense position will likely make National Security Adviser John Bolton the most powerful voice inside President Donald Trump’s cabinet.

So say defense analysts who spoke to TAC this week. Former U.S. officials also said they fear that Shanahan’s relative lack of experience may set America on a path to war, and cited a New York Times report that Shanahan had delivered to Bolton a plan to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East. Subsequent reports indicate that the Pentagon might be making plans to send even more.

Shanahan is expected to be nominated for the top Pentagon slot, subject to Senate confirmation. And according to Stephen Wertheim, assistant professor of history at Columbia University, during the confirmation hearings, “when senators think Shanahan, they should think Bolton. Because a vacuum at the top of DoD means that the department becomes a rubber stamp for Bolton.”

Bolton is an unapologetic Bush-era war hawk with four decades of experience inside the Beltway. Throughout his long career, he’s advocated for regime change in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, and Iran. As national security adviser, he appears determined to consolidate his power in the Cabinet, usurping powers that traditionally reside with the military.

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