John Bolton Isn’t Just a Hawk—He’s a War Criminal Who May Get Us All Killed

In a sane society, people like Bolton wouldn’t be allowed on television, much less put in charge of American security.

Juan Cole March 23, 2018

John Bolton will replace H.R. McMaster as Trump's new national security adviser. Bolton has been a militant advocate for regime change in both Iran and North Korea and has repeatedly called for an end to the Iran nuclear deal. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty)

This arti­cle first appeared on Informed Com­ment.

People called 'hawks' in Washington, a euphemism for 'murderous maniacs,' often get supported one way or another by the arms industry.

John Bolton helped lie our coun­try into an ille­gal war of aggres­sion that killed sev­er­al hun­dred thou­sand Iraqis, wound­ed over a mil­lion, and dis­placed 4 mil­lion from their homes, helped deliv­er Bagh­dad into the hands of Iran, and helped cre­ate ISIL, which blew up Paris. In a just world, Bolton would be on tri­al at the Hague for war crimes. Instead, he has been pro­mot­ed into a posi­tion to do to Iran what he did to Iraq.

He is also in the back pock­et of the MEK Iran­ian ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion, which despite its vio­lent and smelly past has proved so use­ful to those plot­ting the apoc­a­lyp­tic destruc­tion of Iran that the Wash­ing­ton elite decid­ed to take it off the list of ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions in 2012.

The accept­able polit­i­cal spec­trum inside the Belt­way in Wash­ing­ton DC is a mar­vel to behold. Bernie Sanders, a long-serv­ing sen­a­tor and pub­lic ser­vant won 13.2 mil­lion pop­u­lar votes to 16.8 mil­lion votes for Hillary Clin­ton (i.e. he was backed by 43% of one of the two major par­ties in the coun­try). But Sanders was vir­tu­al­ly blacked out from cor­po­rate tele­vi­sion cov­er­age dur­ing his impres­sive pres­i­den­tial bid, while Jeff Zuck­er turned CNN over to Trump every night at 7:30 pm through­out the sum­mer and fall of 2016 and just let him talk, or what­ev­er he does, for an hour with­out even a sem­blance of jour­nal­is­tic analy­sis. Sup­pos­ed­ly left-lean­ing MSNBC did the same thing.

America’s cor­po­ra­tions love the fas­cist side of the spec­trum, which is obvi­ous from the way they pro­mot­ed Trump and Trump­ism. Zuck­er also hired Cory Lewandows­ki, who was at the time con­trac­tu­al­ly oblig­at­ed to avoid crit­i­ciz­ing Trump, as a CNN com­men­ta­tor. Fas­cism after all favors big cor­po­ra­tions and vil­i­fies and pun­ish­es work­ers and the poor. Under Mus­soli­ni, the Ital­ian poor were plunged into much deep­er poverty.

Tele­vi­sion news also loves the mani­a­cal side of the spec­trum. You sel­dom see nor­mal peo­ple as com­men­ta­tors on cable news, and much of the com­men­tary is polar­ized and super­fi­cial and often sim­ply incor­rect on the facts of the mat­ter. Some­times it is even just a crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy. Dur­ing the Iraq War, the NYT revealed that the Pen­ta­gon suc­cess­ful­ly pressed on CNN a gag­gle of for­mer gen­er­als, many of them active­ly mak­ing mon­ey off of the Iraq War through con­tract­ing while they were pro­mot­ing it on tele­vi­sion. They pre­sent­ed an Alice in Won­der­land view of the bru­tal US occu­pa­tion of that coun­try as a shin­ing suc­cess. Tom Fen­ton, a career tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ist, once wrote a book sug­gest­ing that tele­vi­sion news is so bad that it is actu­al­ly a stand­ing risk for US secu­ri­ty, since an unin­formed or mis­in­formed pub­lic can­not play the demo­c­ra­t­ic role of watch­dog and is not being alert­ed to gen­uine threats. Maybe the mani­acs draw eye­balls and increase adver­tis­ing dol­lars. Maybe Wall Street doesn’t see peo­ple as mani­acs as long as they advo­cate giv­ing bil­lion­aires more money.

The fas­ci­na­tion with the far right wing and with the mani­a­cal dove­tails in the per­son of Bolton, now Trump’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advis­er. Jesus said that if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch. The ditch in this case could well be a ruinous war with Iran.

In an sane soci­ety, peo­ple like Bolton wouldn’t be allowed on tele­vi­sion, much less put in charge of Amer­i­can security.

Bolton has assid­u­ous­ly tried to do the same thing he did to Iraq to Iran. Big cor­po­ra­tions like wars. Wars mean you have to man­u­fac­ture more shiny chil­dren-mur­der­ing weapons and bombs, the ulti­mate in planned obso­les­cence. No war, and the fac­to­ries fall silent and the mon­ey-count­ing stops. Peo­ple called hawks” in Wash­ing­ton, a euphemism for mur­der­ous mani­acs,” often get sup­port­ed one way or anoth­er by the arms indus­try. Some­times it is direct and their bank accounts should be examined.

Iran has nev­er had a nuclear weapons pro­gram, and as long as the nuclear deal holds, it has no oppor­tu­ni­ty to devel­op them. It has no heavy water reac­tor. It has a lim­it­ed num­ber of cen­trifuges. It destroyed its stock­pile of ura­ni­um enriched to 19.5% for its med­ical reac­tor. It is being active­ly inspect­ed. No coun­try under active UN arms inspec­tions has ever devel­oped a bomb.

Bolton wants to bomb Iran so bad­ly that he does not care about these facts. He want­ed to bomb Iran him­self if he could, sort of like Slim Pick­ens in Dr. Strangelove. If not he want­ed to have the Israelis do it.

He has a list. He’d like to bomb nuclear-armed North Korea, too.

The Bul­letin of Atom­ic Sci­en­tists that keeps that clock show­ing how many min­utes the world is away from a nuclear mid­night can put it away. With Bolton’s appoint­ment, it is past midnight.

Juan Cole (www​.juan​cole​.com) is pro­fes­sor of mod­ern Mid­dle East­ern and South Asian His­to­ry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan and author, most recent­ly, of Sacred Space and Holy War.
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