By Martin Jay:
US President Donald Trump might finally have assembled a cadre of advisors and cabinet members that echo his ambitions in Iran and the Middle East. The problem? None of these people understand Iran or the Middle East.
A lot has been written about John Bolton in the last few days, most of it espousing that the former UN Ambassador is a homicidal maniac who wants to blow up the entire world, for no real reason other than it would be something to do. And that’s largely true.
But many pundits who have claimed that Bolton is an extreme hawk to complete Trump’s ‘war cabinet’ have missed the point about Bolton – a man gifted by both looking and sounding as mad as a sack full of snakes.
The Fox news pundit, who was UN Ambassador under George W. Bush, is not really a Trump guy though. Trump doesn’t even like him and has refrained from making any big statements about Bolton who, remarkably, is the luckiest man in US politics today for two decisions which he backed – and which have ironically given him a job now advising the US President.
It’s not that Bolton was so assiduously for the US invasion of Iraq, itself one of the greatest post WWII US foreign policy blunders, which, in simple terms created and allowed ISIL (Daesh) to expand in numbers so greatly that it needed to move into neighbouring Syria.
It’s more that Bolton’s ludicrous support for the Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon in 2006 has been the very basis for the perceived instability in the Middle East which pours oil on the anti-Iran inferno which is driving Trump’s crusade.
It’s a vicious circle and guys like Bolton have extremely short sighted vision about military intervention. They simply can’t see that the Iraq invasion in 2003 followed by the Israeli bombing of Hezbollah in 2006 essentially created a complex and contradictory demographic which Trump, least of all, can even begin to understand.
The 2006 Israeli attack on Hezbollah only made the Lebanese group stronger and merely confirmed to Iran that it should be given long range weapons targeted at Tel Aviv so that such an attack can never be repeated.
But neither Bolton nor Trump get it.
Yet no matter. Both men are indulging themselves in ignorance on a whole new level and Trump is certainly getting tired of his generals who keep telling him that he can’t hit Iran.
Bolton, a man who proudly parades the fact that he dodged military service in Vietnam, has no clue about war or military capability. He also fabulously shuns diplomacy, international institutions and law or anything which smacks of dialogue. He’s managed to chalk up a reputation for not just being a bully in the workplace, but being a feral operator who loses his temper and is capable of extraordinary vengeance against colleagues who simply disagree with his point of view. “Madman” is a term often used to describe him for his outbursts.
Indeed, this unique character trait – of plotting against the chief chemical weapons inspector in 2002 or trying to get intelligence officials fired when they produce intel which contradicts his own ramblings – actually pushed the Republican party to block his nomination as America’s UN ambassador.
It was George W. who bent the rules and gave him the job, which, in true hypocritical style he trashed from day one, running down the UN, while taking a whacking salary which came with the auspicious post.
What we should be noting about Bolton is how comfortable he is with playing dirty tricks and cooking up fabricated intel just to support his painful, agonizing need to create a war somewhere. Anywhere.
But Trump didn’t chose him though, as logically, he is not really an ideal choice for oval office, as it already has its own madman, who generally doesn’t like his own people to generate their own media coverage.
Bolton was pushed into the position by the powerful Israeli-supporting casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who, in fact had been urging Trump since taking office to give Bolton the job of deputy secretary of state. Adelson is the highest contributor to Trump’s election campaign and 5 million bucks should buy him some face time. Others believe that the visit by the Saudi Crown Prince to the US also created the impetus for Trump to slot Bolton into the prestigious post.
There is also a shake up being played out though. Trump’s removal of H R McMaster and even rumours that John Kelly is also on his way out may mark the end of the seven-month dominance of a trio of generals who support his views on Iran, but then tell him that it is simply impossible to attack it.
It’s also about Trump’s persona around the world when he issues threats. Mostly these threats are not taken seriously, least of all by Iran.
Now with a cabal of hardcore anti-Iran war junkies as his closest aides, all dutifully playing the required role of nodding dogs, his bite might be seen to be harder than his bark.
But Bolton’s views are too whacky even for Trump. His soundbites too ludicrous and often akin to a four-year-old talking about finding a cure for cancer or flying to the moon in a bathtub.
The Yale law graduate doesn’t have any of the answers that Trump craves. It’s one thing to say ‘gee, let’s bomb Iran’ but quite another to come up with the required strategy and now with the generals out of the way, Trump is taking a real gamble with Bolton’s appointment and the military brass exiting the room.
Bolton’s is to international diplomacy and military strategy what the selfie stick is to fine art, or the VW camper van to luxury travel.
He doesn’t have the plan and with no military experience and a track record of whacky ideas which never receive any real scrutiny, Trump may well grow tired of him.
On Russia they certainly don’t see eye to eye and it will be curious to see how Trump defends him when mainstream media discover how Bolton not only supports an Iranian opposition group which has killed Americans, but has also given speeches at rallies for it, which are typically paid handsomely.
Bolton also believes Gaza should be given to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan in what he called a “three state solution”.
In the Middle East it’s likely that the only deal on the table to hit Iran will be to try and destabilize Assad in Syria, by beefing up the operations against the Syrian leader and his allies, chiefly Iran and Hezbollah. But this will be yet another gift to the Iranians as surely the costs will be high for America in a war which just the other day Trump asked $4 billion dollars from the Saudis, just to get out of.
Watch very carefully for increased numbers of US troops deployed to Syria as “special advisers” and observe how Trump deals with Bolton’s Fox slots being given even more prominence.