As the impact of Donald Trump’s presidential victory is settling in among the professional political and punditry ranks in Washington, several neo-conservatives from the George W. Bush administration, many of whom opposed Trump’s candidacy from the outset, are making their play for top jobs in Trump’s transition team and administration. The most worrisome of these opportunists is Bush’s Senate-rejected ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.
Bolton is among the most radical of neo-cons who helped craft Bush’s disastrous foreign policy. Bolton, who claims to be tough on terrorism, especially Iranian «terrorism», once advocated blowing up the top 10 floors of the UN Secretariat building in New York. Bush gave Bolton a temporary recess appointment to lead the U.S. delegation to the UN precisely because Bolton had long-advocated doing away with the UN. Bolton’s problems with the UN stemmed from the neo-con meme that the UN was «biased» because it often opposed Israeli aggression and expansionism in the Middle East. No sooner had Trump began the process of selecting senior members of his administration, Bolton’s name was floated as a possible Secretary of State or National Security Adviser.
Bolton and Trump share some foreign policy views, including moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and tearing up the Iran-P5+1 nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Where they differ is on U.S. policy toward Syria, Russia, and Ukraine. Trump is publicly in favor of restoring closer U.S. relations with Russia, allying with Russia and the Syrian government in battling the Islamic State and other jihadist forces, as well as recognizing the retrocession of Crimea to the Russian Federation.
In 2002, Bolton identified Syria as a «rogue state», that in addition to Iraq, could «expect to become our targets.» Bolton also backs the jihadist uprising against Assad. In October 2015, Bolton argued with Israeli Brigadier General Israel Shafir at a conference at Beth Jacob synagogue in Beverly Hills, California over Assad’s continuation in power in Syria. Shafir said he was concerned that Assad’s ouster would bring to power in Damascus forces that would imperil Israel’s security. Bolton, who fancies himself an expert on everything but who is only a slightly-functional moron on most things, advanced the Israeli Likud Party and U.S. neo-con belief that a jihadist Sunni government in Syria was preferable to Assad.
In a July 2016 interview on the radio show of Stephen K. Bannon, the editor of Breitbart News, Bolton had sharp words for Trump over the then-Republican presidential nominee’s statement to The New York Times that, as president, he would only assist NATO nations in the event of a Russian attack. The assistance said Trump would only come after reviewing whether those NATO nations had fulfilled their NATO financial obligations to the United States. Bolton demanded that Trump retract his statement immediately and alter his position on Russia to one of Ronald Reagan’s «peace through strength.»
Parroting other neo-con talking points, Bolton accused Trump of «encouraging Russian aggression.» Bolton defended huge U.S. military spending on NATO because «fewer Americans will die, if we deter Russia or other aggressors from invading.» Bolton also declared that Russia was «a dagger at the heart of the most successful military/political alliance in human history.»
Now, Trump is reportedly considering Bolton for a senior level foreign policy position in his administration. Bannon became the Trump’s campaign’s chief executive after Trump fired his previous campaign manager, Paul Manafort, amid corporate neo-con media claims that Manafort’s business links with Russia and the neo-con/Soros-ousted Ukrainian government of President Viktor Yanukovych posed a «national security» problem for the Trump campaign. Bannon is now being proffered as Trump’s White House chief of staff.
Another prominent neo-con being mentioned for a senior post in Trump’s foreign policy apparatus is Bolton’s former press spokesman and «man-Friday» at the UN, Richard Grenell. Serving as the national security spokesman for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012, Grenell soon resigned after his openly gay orientation infuriated Romney’s evangelical Christian and Mormon supporters. While serving as Bolton’s chief personal assistant at the UN, Grenell infuriated diplomats, UN staffers, and the UN press corps with his brash style, which mimicked that of his boss in all respects.
In March 2011, Bolton urged the United States to assassinate Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, something Secretary of State Hillary Clinton authorized later that year and then laughed about it after Qaddafi was brutally sodomized and tortured. Trump, on the other hand, said he never supported the invasion of Libya. Moreover, Trump had reportedly discussed plans at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida with Qaddafi’s ambassador in Washington for a massive Trump resort on Libya’s Mediterranean coast. The resort would have been established through a licensing agreement between Libya and the Trump organization. When Qaddafi visited the UN in 2009 and New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg refused to allow Qaddafi to pitch his tent in Central Park, Trump offered the Libyan leader his property at his Westchester, New York estate. Trump’s friendship and business plans with Qaddafi, which included investments for Libya’s $7 billion sovereign wealth fund, totally ran counter to Bolton’s call for the Libyan leader’s assassination.
On Ukraine, Bolton called for Russia to be ejected from the G8 and have imposed on it punishing economic sanctions. Trump also has a mixed record on Ukraine, having praised the government «reforms» of then-President Mikheil Sakkashvili in the Republic of Georgia. However, Saakashvili, is a known acolyte of Trump’s nemesis, global hedge fund tycoon George Soros. Saakashvili later fled Georgia amid a criminal investigation. Today, Saakashvili is a citizen of Ukraine, where he just organized a neo-con political party after resigning as the governor of the Odessa region.
Bolton remains steadfast in his opinion that the Bush administration’s decision to invade and occupy Iraq was a correct one. Trump said numerous times during the campaign that the decision by the Bush administration was wrong. However, in another example of Trump recycling discredited neo-cons in his embryonic administration, former Central Intelligence Agency director James Woolsey, fired by President Bill Clinton in 1994, is being mentioned as a senior member of Trump’s administration.
It was Woolsey who later championed the cause of the most fraudulent front organization ever cobbled together by the CIA, the Iraqi National Congress of Iraqi con-man Ahmed Chalabi. Propped up by the Washington, DC lobbying firm of Black, Kelly, Scruggs & Healey, also known as BKSH & Associates, Woolsey and Chalabi convinced both the Clinton and Bush administrations to commit in principle to Saddam Hussein’s overthrow. BKSH & Associates was formed in 1996 as the result of a merger of Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly with another lobbying firm. Interestingly, the firm’s partners included Paul Manafort, Trump’s fired campaign manager, and Roger Stone, one of Trump’s initial campaign advisers. Woolsey and Chalabi were also involved in the antics of one Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, known to the CIA as «Curveball.» Curveball, still believed by the CIA to be the worst phony intelligence source it ever employed, provided hundreds of pages of bogus Iraqi intelligence documents on what turned out to be non-existent Iraqi mobile biological weapons laboratories. That phony «evidence» was partly used as justification for the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.
There are several other notorious neo-cons being considered by Trump’s transition team, which is headed by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is aided by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Ousted transition team chief, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, got the pink slip because Kushner recalled how, in 2005, then- U.S. Attorney Christie, prosecuted Kushner’s father, New Jersey-New York billionaire real estate magnate Charles Kushner for tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions, and Mafia-like witness tampering. The elder Kushner served one year in federal prison and his son never forgave Christie for seeking a prison sentence. Jared Kushner’s newspaper, The New York Observer, is a champion of neo-con causes, especially concerning maintaining a U.S. hard line on Russia, China, Palestine, Venezuela, Cuba, and other countries.
No good ever comes from harboring neo-cons. Foolhardy neo-con foreign operations ruined Jimmy Carter’s administration and almost subjected Ronald Reagan to impeachment. Neo-cons, some holdovers from the George W. Bush administration, plunged Ukraine, Syria, Libya, and Yemen, into civil war and Venezuela, Egypt, Tunisia, and Honduras into civil strife. Considering who Trump is now surrounding himself with, his administration and America are in for a very stressful time.