Tag Archives: John Bolton

War with Iran? Are you really serious about that?

The chicken hawks who are advising Donald Trump to launch military strikes against Iran need to have their heads examined.

Yep, they’re aboard the “war with Iran” hay wagon. They are led by national security adviser John Bolton, who long has favored “regime change” in Tehran. This is frightening and dangerous stuff, ladies and gentlemen.

The Iranians reportedly have been launching attacks on commercial vessels sailing in international waters. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says U.S. intelligence has confirmed Iranian involvement. In an ironic twist, I should add, Pompeo has endorsed the intelligence analysis on the Iranian involvement from the same people he and Donald Trump have dismissed when they said the Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016; go figure, eh?

We must not go to war with Iran because of attacks on commercial vessels.

Some members of the Senate are calling for “retaliatory strikes” against Iran. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, is one of them. To be fair, I don’t include Sen. Cotton in the “chicken hawk” cadre; he served as an Army infantry officer who saw combat in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

His prior military experience does not make his argument correct. A retaliatory strike is bound to produce a vigorous military response from the Islamic Republic of Iran. And by vigorous, I mean deadly, as in ferocious.

Do we really want to engage in yet another war with a Middle East nation? Good grief! Please, let us not go there!

The Iranians already have announced their plans to exceed their nuclear enrichment limits as payback for Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement that sought to ban Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The president pulled out even though other signatory nations said the Iranians were complying with the restrictions.

This is not how you “make America great again,” Mr. President.

This saber-rattling is making me very nervous.

Your opinion most certainly matters, Mr. Bolton

Uh, John Bolton? Hello?

I have taken in recent months to addressing the president directly with my blog posts. I’ll direct these remarks to you.

You say your opinion “doesn’t matter.” Hey, you’re the friggin’ national security adviser. It most certainly does matter.

Donald Trump gave North Korean dictator/tyrant Kim Jong Un a pass on what he knew about Otto Warmbier’s imprisonment and then his death. His statement that he takes Kim “at his word” that he knew nothing about it is absurd on its face.

I would hope that you know better as the national security adviser.

You’re known as a hardliner. You’re a tough guy. Tough on Iran. Tough on the United Nations. Tough on the Islamic State and al-Qaida.

You’re also the third national security adviser to work for this president. He burned through Michael Flynn and H.R. McMaster quickly. Then he brought you aboard, albeit over the objection of many of us out here. I admit to being one of those skeptics.

But you’re in the hot seat now. You have been given the responsibility of providing the commander in chief with the best national security advice he can get. If only he’d listen.

I happen to believe that your word is as valuable as any that Donald Trump is going to receive as he considers what to do about this and that threat to our national security.

Kim Jong Un is a bizarre tyrant whose hand is in every aspect of government in the country he rules with untold cruelty.

I get that you don’t want to “contradict” the president. You surely want to keep your job. It’s a big job, indeed, Mr. Bolton.

I’m just going to ask you to give Donald Trump the candid advice he needs to hear. One thing you ought to tell him is this:

“Uh, Mr. President. Don’t take Kim Jong Un’s word on anything. And for crying out loud, stop saying out loud that you ‘like’ this murderous tyrant. You cannot possibly ‘like’ an overfed tyrant who is allowing the people he rules to starve to death.”

Is U.N. ambassadorship a training position?

Welcome to the real big leagues, Heather Nauert.

Donald Trump wants the former Fox News correspondent and morning talk-show co-host to lead the U.S. diplomatic effort in the United Nations. I am left to wonder if the president values the U.N. as much as his national security adviser, John Bolton, does. It was Bolton who (in)famously said you could remove the top 10 floors from the U.N. Building in New York and not lose a thing. Then he became the U.S. ambassador to the world body.

Nauert brings far less foreign policy experience to this most delicate of posts. She did serve as State Department spokeswoman for a year after leaving Fox News.

You know, I actually thought that Nauert wasn’t the first rookie to take this job. My thoughts turned to the late John Scali, the former ABC News correspondent who was U.N. ambassador from 1973 to 1975. However, a quick check of Scali’s record showed something quite revealing.

He helped mediate an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 while working for ABC, carrying messages from President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy to the Soviet embassy, warning them of the dire peril they were putting the world in by installing offensive missiles in Cuba. Scali then left ABC to work for the Nixon administration as a foreign policy adviser before becoming U.N. ambassador in 1973.

Thus, Scali had experience.

Nauert does not. In a way, though, she more or less mirrors the experience level of the man who nominated her. Donald Trump brought zero government or public service experience to the presidency when he got elected.

And it shows.

I fear the absence of any foreign policy chops is going to show itself yet again at the United Nations. Heaven help us.

Bolton has lost his spine

I am going to concur with Paul Begala, a former Bill Clinton political confidant and pal, who says national security adviser John Bolton has shown himself to be a coward.

Yes, Begala is a partisan. For that matter, I suppose you can argue that I am, too. Sure, I lean in the same direction as Begala, but I’ve never worked for politicians.

Begala is angry that Bolton has chosen to avoid listening to the recording of slain U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi being slaughtered by his Saudi Arabian captors, who killed him in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Reporters asked Bolton why he hadn’t listen to it. He said: “Unless you speak Arabic, what are you going to get from it?”

Begala responded in an essay: A lot. You will, presumably, hear struggle. You will hear beating, according to a Turkish newspaper, citing Turkish security sources. You will hear torture. You will hear an innocent man’s final, desperate words: “Release my arm! What do you think you are doing?” You will hear one of the alleged conspirators, who allegedly put on Khashoggi’s clothes to act as a body double, comment that “it is spooky to wear the clothes of a man whom we killed 20 minutes ago.”

Bolton didn’t want to hear that. Nor did he want to ask an interpreter to translate it for him. He said he could “read a transcript” if he could find an Arabic speaker to listen to it.

Read the essay here

Bolton’s crass and callous response defies human decency, in my humble view.

He is the national security adviser, for crying out loud! He needs to hear the screams of a journalist based in Washington, D.C., a Saudi national and a champion of political dissent. He had the temerity to insist on reforms in the land of his birth . . . and this is the response reportedly from the crown prince who allegedly ordered the man’s murder.

The CIA has determined that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s murder. The president has blown that assessment off. So, too, I guess has John Bolton, choosing to join Donald Trump in the hideous game of disparaging the nation’s intelligence experts.

Cowardly.

‘What wars have we started?’

Allow me to throw a bouquet at Chris Wallace, the host of “Fox News Sunday,” who this morning asked national security adviser John Bolton a most pertinent question.

“What wars have we (the media) started,” Wallace asked Bolton, who — quite expectedly — dodged the question, avoided giving a direct answer.

The question came from a tweet fired off this morning by Donald J. Trump, who said the following:

The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!

The danger and sickness, allow me to respond, are coming from the president of the United States, whose Twitter messages are sounding increasingly hysterical and detached from reality.

According to The Hill: “That’s the president’s view, based on the attacks the media has made,” Bolton responded, citing past administrations that have clashed with the media.

“I think this kind of adversarial relationship is typical,” he added.

What is not typical is for the president of the United States to accuse the media of potentially causing “war” by offering critical analysis and commentary of public policy.

Scary, man!

Trump-Putin II postponed, to what end?

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are going to meet a second time — but not until after the first of the year.

The announcement came from national security adviser John Bolton, who — borrowing the president’s favorite epithet describing the examination of the “Russia thing” — said the meeting would occur after the “witch hunt” has concluded.

C’mon, Mr. National Security Adviser. There ain’t a “witch hunt” taking place.

Robert Mueller is proceeding with his probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded in 2016 with the Russians operatives who attacked our electoral system. The special counsel is not the partisan hack he has been accused of being by, um, actual partisan hacks.

The next summit between the U.S. and Russian presidents should proceed. I support the idea of the two leaders talking to each other. They should face each other and they should talk openly and candidly about the issues they have in common and those that separate them. They also should do so publicly to the extent they can.

The problem, though, still rests with that first summit in Helsinki. They went into a closed-door meeting and the world doesn’t yet know what they discussed, where they agreed and what they decided. Then the two leaders had that press conference in which Trump rolled over in front of Putin in that ghastly show of weakness by the so-called “leader of the free world.”

As for the juxtaposition with special counsel Mueller’s investigation, let’s just wait to see what conclusions are drawn once the probe is finished.

We have an extremely fluid situation in front of us. The Mueller probe can end in any number of ways, some of which might bode poorly for the president.

And, oh yes, we have that midterm election coming up.

If at least one congressional chamber flips from Republican to Democratic control, well … let’s just wait to see how that plays out.

Did ‘Libya model’ remark endanger summit?

If the planned summit between Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un doesn’t occur as scheduled, perhaps the president can take the opportunity to escort John Bolton to the proverbial woodshed.

The president needs to talk sternly to the national security adviser.

Kim has suggested the meeting might not occur as planned. Trump said there’s a “substantial” chance it would be delayed.

Why? Well, Bolton popped off the other saying something about applying the “Libya model” to dealing with North Korea. What is that model, by the way? Well, the United States sought “regime change” in Libya; Libyans rioted and rebelled; they captured dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Then they took the fallen despot somewhere — and then killed him. Dead! He’s a goner for keeps!

That’s the “Libya model” as espoused by the national security adviser? Trump, though, was quick to distance himself from that unfortunate example, which he did in Bolton’s presence while speaking to reporters in the White House.

No doubt Kim heard what Bolton said. He gets the implication that Bolton’s message conveyed. I mean, Trump did once refer to Kim as a “smart cookie,” isn’t that right?

There are other complications coming into play. Kim’s view of “denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula well might differ from what Trump and the South Koreans want.

Thus, the summit might be in some immediate and hopefully temporary jeopardy.

Back to Bolton.

Trump has hired a serious hot head to be his national security adviser. Bolton is unafraid to recommend a war footing. Trump has entrusted this champion of regime change with the role of providing crucial national security advice to the commander in chief.

I just implore Bolton to lay off the “Libya model” rhetoric.

‘Libya model’ in play … or not?

That didn’t take long.

Donald Trump brings John Bolton aboard just a few weeks ago to be national security adviser. Bolton, a noted hard-liner, then tell Fox News that the president will follow the “Libya model” in shaping U.S. policy with regard to North Korea’s nuclear program.

What does the president then do? In Bolton’s presence, he tells reporters he isn’t following the Libya model, that he’s going to craft a unique policy as it concerns efforts to persuade North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons.

“The Libyan model isn’t a model that we have at all, when we’re thinking of North Korea (DPRK),” Trump told reporters at the White House before meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

You see, the Libya model didn’t work out well for the late Moammar Gadhafi, the strongman who used to run Libya.

Rebels revolted there, overthrew Gadhafi, then captured him and dragged off to some location — and then killed him! He’s dead, man!

Do you think North Korea’s strongman, Kim Jong Un, wants to hear some comparison to the Libya model? I, um, do not believe so.

Trump is trying to preserve some semblance of hope that he and Kim will actually meet next month in Singapore to discuss a whole range of issues. It’s a big deal, this meeting. U.S. presidents and North Korean dictators have never met face to face.

Trump’s rhetoric about Kim has transformed from threats to “Little Rocket Man” to high praise for him as someone interested in forging an actual peace treaty with South Korea.

Then his national security adviser, Bolton, steps in it by referring to an event that ended badly for another world leader.

Let’s get our nation’s message straight, shall we?

‘Mad Dog’ can’t work with Bolton? Who knew?

Imagine my non-surprise to hear this tidbit on a drizzly Texas Panhandle day. It is that Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis told associates he isn’t sure he can work with John Bolton were he to be named national security adviser to the Donald J. Trump administration.

Who knew? Yes?

You see, Mattis is a grownup. He’s a retired Marine Corps general with combat experience. He knows war. He’s seen it up close. He’s been to hell and lived to talk about it … were he so inclined.

Bolton is more of a “chicken hawk.” He doesn’t have the kind of real-world experience that Mattis has piled up. Yet he stands ready to recommend war at almost any turn. The Hill reports that White House chief of staff John Kelly, another retired Marine general, also is unhappy with Bolton’s selection as national security adviser.

Well, now the president has appointed Bolton to be the national security adviser. The decision appears to have isolated Mattis, who had a kindred spirit in the national security adviser’s chair for about a year. Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster is stepping down as national security adviser and reportedly is retiring from the Army.

He and Mattis double-teamed as a reasonable tandem of advisers who were willing to advise Trump against acting rashly — even though they weren’t always able to persuade the president to follow their advice.

Gen. McMaster is now gone. Is “Mad Dog” Mattis the next grownup to be shown the door?

Chaos is king in the Trump White House.

Look out, ‘radical Islam’

President George W. Bush told us in clear and unequivocal terms while the nation grieved over the 9/11 attack: We are not at war with Islam.

President Barack H. Obama followed that message to the letter. On the night he announced the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the president told us that bin Laden was not a “Muslim leader,” but that he was a “mass murderer of Muslims.”

A new president has taken over. Donald J. Trump has just nominated Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state and has appointed John Bolton to be the new national security adviser.

These two men — not to mention the president — seem intent on changing the narrative. They want to take direct aim at “radical Islam,” as if the terrorists with whom we are at war represent a great world religion. They do not. They have perverted Islam to fit some ruthless ideology.

As Politico has reported: Both Bolton and Pompeo will now be working for a president who has alleged, with no evidence, that American Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks, and who has proposed banning all foreign Muslims from U.S. shores. Critics say the personnel moves suggest Trump’s worst instincts on how to approach the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims will find receptive ears among his foreign policy aides.

Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster, who will be leaving the State Department and the National Security Council, respectively, were thought to have some sort of moderating influence on Trump. But the president has shoved them aside, elevating two more fiery confidants to help formulate U.S. foreign policy. They are likely to seek to steer the president toward a position that mainstream Muslims might interpret to be more hostile to their religious faith.

That, I suggest, is a dangerous trend.

The killers with whom we have been at war since 9/11 need damn little pretext to recruit new militants to follow their perverted cause.