Despite having actually supported the Iraq war, Trump was highly critical of George W. Bush and his Neocon war cabinet on the campaign trail. Trump on Iraq: How Could We Have Been So Stupid? “One Of The Worst Decisions In The History Of The Country”:
TRUMP: I’m finding out all I can do is tell the truth. I tell the truth about Iraq. I say the war was a disaster. We spent $2 trillion. Lost thousands of lives, thousands of lives. We have wounded warriors all over the place. These guys have more courage than all of us put together. I have to tell you. All of us. And you know, I said we should have never been there. And you know, if Bush is insulted, I don’t care if he’s insulted. It was a horrible mistake. We should have never been there. Somebody says, oh, that’s not good to criticize? I say criticize? It’s one of the worst decisions in the history of the country. We have totally destabilized the Middle East.
I predicted that was going to happen. Because when you knock down the one power, the other power just took it over. Now Iran is taking over Iraq. Just as sure as you’re sitting there. We don’t even have anything to do with Iraq anymore. We’re gone. But think of it. We spent $2 trillion. Could have rebuilt our country. We could have done so much with that money. And instead, we’re worse in the Middle East than we were 15 years ago. Right now, it’s a disaster.
Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, but you know what he was good at? Killing terrorists. He was killing terrorists. Now, Iraq is Harvard for terrorists. if you want to be a terrorist, you go to Iraq. It’s Harvard. And what did we do? You know, we spent all this money, lost all these lives, have all these wounded warriors. What did we get? Iran is taking over. Not only did they get the $150 billion in the stupid deal we made, one of the dumbest deals ever, but now we’re taking over Iraq, they have been fighting for years to try to take each other.
Many of Trump’s MAGA supporters voted for him specifically because they believed (irrationally) that he would get America out of “stupid wars” and he would use the savings to “make America great again.”
On Thursday, Trump betrayed those supporters when National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster resigned (riiight, he was forced out) and Trump replaced him with the godfather of stupid wars, John Bolton, a Neocon who was one of the directors of the Project for the New American Century that advocated for regime change in Iraq and misled the Bush administration with false intelligence into the Iraq war fiasco. John Bolton, Fresh From Fox News, Joins the Trump Cast.
John Bolton is a true believer in Dick Cheney’s unitary executive theory, unilateral military action against perceived threats to the United States (PNAC), and first strike preemptive use of nuclear weapons. He has advocated for war against North Korea, The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First, and Iran, To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.
We now have a mad man advising a mad man on matters of war.
President Trump recently bumbled into agreeing to a summit with North Korea, and in May he must recertify the multi-state Iran nuclear deal. Trump has signaled his intention to scuttle the U.S. role in the Iran nuclear deal, and John Bolton has long advocated against the Iran nuclear deal. Trump must withdraw from Iran nuclear deal — now.
With his reckless and dangerous choice of the Neocon warmonger John Bolton as his National Security Advisor, Trump is sending a signal to the international community of his clear intentions to go to war. “Cry ‘Havoc!’, and let slip the dogs of war.”
Trump needs a distraction from his many scandals and legislative failures, and the criminal probe of the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation. Megalomaniac authoritarians always resort to war as a distraction and to rally the populace to their side under a national exigency. It is a deeply cynical and immoral strategy. How many people must die for Trump’s authoritarian lust for power?
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post sounds the alarm, The real reason Trump’s choice of John Bolton should terrify you:
What’s really happening is that Trump is increasingly surrounding himself with advisers who are better than the “adults in the room” at manipulating his erratic and shifting impulses and whims, by giving a shape to them he can accept and act upon.
Axios reports this morning that sources close to Trump say he “feels” that Bolton “will finally deliver the foreign policy the president wants” on Iran and North Korea. What makes this account almost certainly dead on is the word “feels.” As Michael Warren of the Weekly Standard points out, Bolton has skillfully used his conservative media perches to send messages to Trump that nudge him toward “more hawkish stances” by “casting them as fulfillments of Trump’s own pledges and true beliefs.”
Bolton wants to bomb Iran. There is no particular reason to believe that Trump either favors or opposes that stance. Trump knows that the Iran nuclear deal is bad because Barack Obama negotiated it; Trump knows Trump is strong and Obama is weak; and Trump knows his supporters cheered when he vowed to rip the agreement to shreds. But Trump has not meaningfully articulated why we should pull out of it, because he can’t.
And so, when Trump was debating whether to certify the Iran deal last summer and was unhappy with advisers urging him to do so on substantive grounds, then-adviser Stephen K. Bannon handed him a piece by Bolton urging him to decertify. Bolton’s piece cast that as the only course consistent with Trump’s “view that the Iran deal was a diplomatic debacle,” because Obama had given Iran “unimaginably favorable terms.” Trump has no idea whether this is true — it isn’t — but it persuaded Trump to come close to decertifying, though ultimately the adults prevailed that time.
The point is that Trump doesn’t grasp the details, but Bolton skillfully gave shape to his impulses. Now Bolton will be in an even better position to persuade Trump to kill the Iran deal, and if and when that happens, to push Trump more in the direction of his own bellicose designs, which Bolton will almost certainly cast as in keeping with Trump’s vow to be tougher than Obama.
Or take North Korea. Everyone knows that when Trump agreed to meet with Kim Jong Un, he did so on an impulse, with no thought through rationale or sense of the risks and complexities involved. Bolton wants to go to war with North Korea and has dismissed talks. But he cleverly greeted Trump’s announcement by describing it as “shock and awe” and an opportunity for Trump to give North Korea an ultimatum if it does not immediately begin “total denuclearization.” This, too, gave a shape to Trump’s impulse that he will very probably find flattering, but also one that might move Trump toward Bolton’s position.
If Trump now “feels” that Bolton will give him the policies he wants on Iran and North Korea, it’s because Bolton is skilled at making Trump feel that way. That’s ominous, because it means Bolton may be able to push Trump toward believing that Bolton’s goals are a realization of his own foreign policy vision, such as it is.
Trump’s vision is formless
And that foreign policy vision is formless. During the campaign, Trump opposed the Iraq War, sending the message that he won’t get drawn into the misguidedly idealistic or stupidly conceived military adventurism so typical of our clueless, corrupt elites. But Trump has never been either antiwar or an isolationist. His posture was rather that he will magically smash our enemies and aggressively represent our interests abroad effortlessly, without any serious cost, because he’s tougher, stronger and smarter than those elites. How hard will it be for Bolton to shape those impulses into something more in line with his own vision?
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As Michelle Goldberg recently observed, one after another, the people who are supposed to be “checking Donald Trump’s worst instincts and most erratic whims” have departed. But this doesn’t mean Trump is getting back to being who he always wanted to be. It means he is increasingly listening to people who are good at exploiting and shaping those instincts and whims.
A FRIGHTENING CHOICE: Vox’s Zack Beauchamp aptly sums up Bolton’s career and the significance of his appointment:
Bolton has said the United States should declare war on both North Korea and Iran. He was credibly accused of manipulating US intelligence on weapons of mass destruction prior to the Iraq war and of abusive treatment of his subordinates. He once “joked” about knocking 10 stories off the UN building in New York. … American foreign policy may be soon be shaped by someone who seems to truly believe that war is the answer to the world’s most pressing problems.
As Christopher Preble of the Cato Institute puts it: “Bolton should be kept as far away from the levers of foreign policy as possible.”
But who will stop him? White House chief of staff Gen. John F. Kelly has proven himself to be totally ineffectual at managing the impulses of Trump, and may himself soon be on his way out. Amid White House turmoil, Trump mused about life without a chief of staff:
In the midst of a Cabinet shake-up and a possible staff upheaval, President Donald Trump considered firing his chief of staff this month and not naming a successor, according to three people familiar with the discussions. Trump has mused to close associates about running the West Wing as he did his business empire, essentially serving as his own chief of staff, these people said.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired by Trump last week, and this may lead to Defense Secretary “Mad Dog” Jim Mattis leaving as well. Tillerson, Mattis, Mnuchin forge ‘suicide pact’ in the event Trump wants one of them gone.
There may soon be no sane adults left in the room to control the madness of King Donald, and the machinations of his Rasputin, John Bolton, incessantly whispering “war” in his ear.