National Security Adviser John Bolton lied his face off when he told Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on his recent Mideast junket that he was sure Iran’s leaders are dedicated to acquiring deliverable nuclear weapons. Nuclear security expert Joe Cirincione shredded Bolton over his false assertion, which is contradicted by UN inspectors and US intelligence.
Bolton made sure to tell Netanyahu this so that Netanyahu could quote Bolton in his own fantasy-filled and inflammatory speeches urging an attack on Iran.
Some 8 years ago Netanyahu tried to attack Iran himself, but was stopped by his own intelligence officials and officer corps, who saw the step as a catastrophe. Former head of Mossad Meir Dagan publicly questioned Netanyahu’s competency to govern in light of his looney fixation on attacking Iran, and I think by “competency” he meant ‘sanity.’
Axios is reporting that former secretary of defense Jim Mattis was disturbed last September when Bolton asked the Department of Defense for a contingent plan for an airstrike inside Iran.
The Wall Street Journal had reported that Bolton asked for the plan after a pro-Iran Shiite militia fired mortars into Baghdad’s Green Zone, where the US embassy is located. The blast walls around the Green Zone have now been removed, but since the US invasion in 2003, it has been one of the few parts of the capital safe from car bombings. It has occasionally taken mortar fire. The mortars last September did not cause any deaths or destruction.
Mattis reportedly felt it would have been legitimate to strike back against the Iraqi militia inside Iraq, but unwise to initiate a cross-border conflict involving a state.
Ironically, when Mattis first met Bolton, he joked that he had heard that he was “the Devil.” He appears to have been making fun of normal people concerned about Bolton’s excesses. So then toward the end of his tenure Mattis found out that we weren’t wrong about Bolton, and he had been foolish to be so insouciant.
American policy-makers’ stalking of Iran is not because the country is powerful but because it is weak. They can’t do anything about powerful countries like China or Russia, so they don’t tangle with them militarily.