The designation of John Bolton as US National Security Advisor, in addition to the State Department being taken over by the CIA, sends an unmistakable signal that the Trump administration is gearing up for some serious mischief in the Middle East.
In an ongoing administrative shakeup that has witnessed a number of controversial Trump appointees of late, including former CIA chief Mike Pompeo as the new Secretary of State, and Gina Haspel, who ran a CIA ‘black site’ prison in Thailand that used ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ (torture), as the new CIA chief, the most ominous is undoubtedly the decision to replace HR McMaster with John Bolton as the National Security Adviser.
At a time of high dudgeon in international affairs, Bolton is not the fire extinguisher the world so desperately needs, but rather an incendiary. Indeed, the former UN ambassador has had a direct hand in some of the most egregious US foreign policy moves in recent history, including appeals for regime change in Iraq, Libya, Iran and Syria. According to the warped worldview of Mr. Bolton, the best form of diplomacy is to be found at the sharp end of a missile strike, and to hell with the atomic fallout.
In a March 2015 opinion piece in the New York Times, with a headline that says it all (“To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran,”), Bolton rebuked former US President Barack Obama for his “frantic efforts to reach agreement with Iran.” One need not read between the lines in what comes next to understand that Bolton is diametrically opposed to any sort of diplomacy with Tehran.
“The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action … can accomplish what is required,” Bolton wrote.
Then, speaking about “rendering inoperable” the Natanz and Fordow uranium-enrichment centers, he boasted that the US military “could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary.”
Incidentally, that comment is frightfully similar to how Mike Pompeo, the new secretary of state, blithely spoke about an attack on Iran in 2014.
“In an unclassified setting, it is under 2,000 sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity,” Pompeo, then serving as House member, told a group of reporters. “This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces.”
Destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to Dr. John Strangelove Bolton is just the first step of a program that would include “vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.”
Bolton also paid lip service to a conspiracy theory, based on a “leaked” UN document (which has yet to see the light of day, by the way), which promotes the idea that North Korea is sending chemical weapon material to Syria in a program that is being financed by Iran. Thus, in one felled swoop, three of the West’s newest candidates for regime change Syria, North Korea and Iran, are scooped up in a net stitched out of the yarn that Syria has an addiction to chemical weapons. If the charges sound preposterous, that’s because they are.
To believe for an atomic nanosecond that Syrian President Bashar Assad, who oversees a relatively respectable military complex, would have anything to do with chemical weapons at this crucial juncture in his political career – especially with the Russian military on his side - is patently absurd. Moreover, why does the West rush to blame Damascus for every chemical attack that happens in Syria (with the White Helmets conveniently on-site to film the aftermath) when it is the rag-tag rebels and terrorists who, bereft of any modern military arsenal, would be the ones most expected to resort to such barbaric, desperate tactics, and not least of all for the purpose of drawing the Western powers into the fray on their side? As some famous Greek once said, ‘To ask the question is to answer it.’
Meanwhile, even before the unholy triumvirate of Pompeo, Haspel and Bolton have been formally embedded into Team Trump, the world must endure the pitiful spectacle of US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, regularly screeching about obliterating anything that bears the slightest resemblance to a sovereign state.
She even had the supreme audacity to speak about Washington’s readiness to “bomb Damascus and even the presidential palace of Bashar Assad, regardless [of the] presence of the Russian representatives there.”
But these fiercely aggressive birds known as hawks are not just native to the febrile climate of Washington, D.C. This arrogant bird of prey can also be found as far east as the United Kingdom where it has perched in the House of Commons ever since Tony Blair made a hellacious pact with George W. Bush to join the jolly little fight known as the ‘war on terror.’
Just this month, Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, was the target of a suspected assassination attempt in Salisbury, UK the military town where he moved following a spy-swap in 2010. After a brief investigation, UK British PM Theresa May swiftly blamed Russia for Skripal’s illness. Her argument was that since Mr. Skripal had been targeted by a nerve agent called ‘novichok,’ a chemical that had been produced in the Soviet Union, specifically in Uzbekistan, then it stood to reason that Russia was the culprit. Such an argument would be laughed out of any court of law.
Moreover, when Moscow requested samples of the agent from London, which, as a member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) it was required to do, London balked. At the same time, no good motive can be found to explain why Russia would want to remove a has-been spy – with a traceable nerve agent, of all things – just a few weeks before presidential elections and the opening of the World Cup.
“He was handed in to Britain as a result of an exchange, said Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s press-secretary, in an exclusive interview with RT. “So, why should Russia hand in a man that is of any importance or that is of any value? It’s unimaginable. If he’s handed in – so Russia quits with him. He’s of zero value or zero importance.”
Amid this outright mockery of the justice system, the buffoonery of Boris Johnson, the UK Foreign Secretary looked right at home. Instead of producing something the West no longer defers to in criminal cases known as ‘evidence,’ the best Johnson could do was conjure up warmed over clichés and compare Russia with Nazi Germany.
“I think the comparison with 1936 is certainly right. It is an emetic prospect to think of Putin glorifying in this sporting event,” he told the Foreign Affairs Committee.
After he was done with his Hitler rant, Johnson speculated as to why Russia would do such a thing.
“The timing (of the Salisbury attack) is probably more closely connected with the recent election in Russia,” he said. “And as many non-democratic figures do when facing an election or facing some critical political moment, it is often attractive to conjure up in the public imagination the notion of an enemy.”
With Putin’s popularity higher than any Western leader, Johnson’s explanation was wide of the mark.
One last word in closing with regards to the Skripal case that many observers seem to have overlooked. Around the time Mr. Skripal was targeted for assassination, purportedly by the Russians, back in the United States the House Intelligence Committee was announcing there had been no collusion between the Trump administration and Russia. Such an announcement was anticipated as early as February. Aside from this being an unacceptable embarrassment for the Democratic Party, not to mention the establishment, which some have taken to calling the ‘deep state,’ it also meant that Russia, as well as Donald Trump, would be cleared of the egregious charges. Clearly some kind of diversionary tactic would have been welcomed.
Was the attack on Sergei Skripal in fact an effort to deflect attention away from the faltering ‘RussiaGate’ case, as well as to keep the anti-Russia propaganda ball bouncing? As for a motivating factor, one need look no further than Russia’s gas contracts with European countries, a lucrative business that at least one global superpower would like more than anything to control. If there is one thing the Neocons like more than war it’s money. Follow the money.