“Stop the ENDLESS WARS!” implored President Donald Trump in a Sunday night tweet.
Well, if he is serious, Trump had best keep an eye on his national security adviser, for a U.S. war on Iran would be a dream come true for John Bolton.
Last September, when Shiite militants launched three mortar shells into the Green Zone in Baghdad, which exploded harmlessly in a vacant lot, Bolton called a series of emergency meetings and directed the Pentagon to prepare a menu of targets, inside Iran, for U.S. air and missile strikes in retaliation.
The Wall Street Journal quoted one U.S. official as saying Bolton’s behavior “rattled people. … People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.”
Bolton’s former deputy, Mira Ricardel, reportedly told a gathering the shelling into the Green Zone was “an act of war” to which the U.S. must respond decisively.
Bolton has long believed a U.S. confrontation with Iran is both inevitable and desirable. In 2015, he authored a New York Times op-ed whose title, “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran,” said it all. He has urged that “regime change” in Iran be made a declared goal of U.S. foreign policy.
When Trump announced his decision to withdraw the 2,000 U.S. troops now in Syria, Bolton swiftly imposed conditions: ISIS must first be eliminated, Iranian forces and allied militias must leave, and the Kurds must be protected.
Yet enforcing such red lines would require a permanent presence of American troops. For how, without war, would we effect the removal of Bashar Assad’s Iranian allies, if he declines to expel them and the Iranians refuse to go?
Bolton has an ally in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
In Cairo last week, Pompeo declared it U.S. policy “to expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria.
And though Hezbollah has been a “major presence” in Lebanon for several decades, “we won’t accept this as the status quo,” said Pompeo, for Hezbollah is a “wholly owned subsidiary of the Iranian regime.”
But how does the secretary of state propose to push Hezbollah out of Lebanon peacefully when the Israelis could not do it in a month-long war in 2006?