… Yes, another one. As has been stated by just about everyone else, the return of John Bolton to a position of influence is horrifying. As one who will have the President’s ear, he continually advocates for the most wantonly destructive acts, is immune to information that contradicts his bloodthirsty prejudices, and punishes those who disagree.
Very simply, Bolton will almost certainly steer us to war — with North Korea, Iran, both, or more.
The nomination — which does not require Senate confirmation — has drawn attention mainly for Bolton’s combative bureaucratic style and the hawkish views he has espoused in three Republican administrations and as a Fox News analyst. Among other ideas, Bolton has advocated overthrowing the Islamic government of Iran, bombing that country’s nuclear facilities, and (just last month) taking preemptive military action against North Korea.
But many foreign policy experts, including some who worked closely with him, argue that the more significant issue for Bolton’s new role may be his history as a consumer of intelligence that does not conform to his views, and the lengths to which he has sometimes gone to try to suppress analyses that he sees as wrong or misinformed.
Certainly this represents an about-face by Trump, who called the Iraq War “the single worst decision ever made”. Doubtless many of his voters — even in the GOP primary — believed that he would represent a departure from warmongering. But as the GOP has become the Party of Trump, with Bolton’s appointment, Trump has fully embraced more war as the default, mainstream GOP position since 9/11. GOP senators have offered only support of Bolton’s appointment, in spite of the bitter experience of Bolton’s failures, in massive death, chaos, and $5 trillion in costs.
But this is not 2003. I am reluctant to give up hope, because I cannot believe that the public has any appetite for war. We will have to pull an inside straight to avoid a catastrophic and unnecessary war in the next few months to two-and-a-half years. But politics is funny, and in the last year we’ve seen how public influence can be felt, even as the opposition is out of power. Power is always a negotiation.
We must refuse to consent to reckless wars, as so much of the public, press, and political establishment infamously did in 2003. Give Bolton/Trump absolutely no quarter, no credence, no rhetorical leeway whatsoever. They are lunatics and liars; we know what they are about, and where this is leading. To our Senators, Representatives, people in the press, anyone with a bully pulpit: Drag them, now, repeatedly. Do not give up. The anti-war movement must be on its toes, ready to deploy into the streets and use any avenue of influence it has. Start talking about war, now, on social media, with friends and family. We must inoculate ourselves and the public to the contagion of war fever that the administration will surely be spreading, and soon.
John Bolton supports proactively bombing Iran and conducting a first strike on North Korea without provocation. Appointing him to be Nat Sec Advisor is a grave danger to the American people and a clear message from @realDonaldTrump that he is gearing up for military conflict.
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) March 22, 2018
Politicians and their courtiers like war because they think it makes them sound like Big Strong Men (yes, generally men) and Very Serious People who are Writing History. It is also the most serious temptation for those in power to grab yet more. This is not new. We have to turn the incentive upside-down: To make it clear that the public is dead-set against stupid wars of choice; and that anyone supporting war will be publicly scorned and humiliated, and suffer electoral devastation.
Politicians are not brave; they’re not supposed to be. Make them fear us. Let’s use what power we have, while we can.