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Bolton’s Push for Regime Change in Iran

Trump’s decision to renege on the nuclear deal was a terrible unforced error, and the process that led to that decision [1] is no less worrisome:

Even if Mr. Mattis had wanted to fight for the deal, it is not clear how much he would have been heard. Mr. Bolton, officials said, never convened a high-level meeting of the National Security Council to air the debate [bold mine-DL]. He advised Mr. Trump in smaller sessions, otherwise keeping the door to his West Wing office closed. Mr. Bolton has forged a comfortable relationship with the president, several people said, channeling his “America First” vocabulary.

Bolton’s handling of the run-up to Trump’s decision on the nuclear deal shows that he isn’t interested in presenting a range of opposing views to the president and the president is content to let Bolton limit the information he receives. One of the reasons to be worried about having Bolton as National Security Advisor is that he will not be an honest broker when it comes to presenting the president with all the facts. That worry was obviously well-founded. Because Bolton is an ideologue and has extremely hard-line views on Iran in particular, he isn’t going to allow the president to hear views that contradict his own, and that means that Iran policy in particular and U.S. foreign policy in general is going to become more aggressive and ideologically-driven than they already were.

This is all the more disturbing because of reports [2] that Bolton’s NSC is circulating plans to foment regime change in Iran:

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The plan, authored by the Security Studies Group, or SSG, a national security think-tank that has close ties to senior White House national security officials, including National Security Adviser John Bolton, seeks to reshape longstanding American foreign policy toward Iran by emphasizing an explicit policy of regime change, something the Obama administration opposed when popular protests gripped Iran in 2009.

The regime change plan seeks to fundamentally shift U.S. policy towards Iran and has found a receptive audience in the Trump administration, which has been moving in this direction since Bolton—a longtime and vocal supporter of regime change—entered the White House.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that talk of regime change in Iran has increased since Bolton took office. Bolton is a longtime advocate for the Mujahideen-e Khalq, a deranged totalitarian cult that he would like to install as the next government of Iran, and he has made no secret of his desire to topple the Iranian government. It was just a matter of time before he started trying to make this official policy.

11 Comments (Open | Close)

11 Comments To "Bolton’s Push for Regime Change in Iran"

#1 Comment By What MAGA Means In 2020 On May 14, 2018 @ 3:23 am

The crazy Bolton foreign policies are spawning another movement for regime change, a movement of disaffected Trump voters planning to vote out Trump allies in Congress in 2018 and vote out Trump himself in 2020.

We’ve seen the street signs in Jerusalem that say “Trump: making Israel great again”. We’ve seen our British, European, and Asian allies look on in shock as Trump pulled out of the Iran deal in order to make Israel happy.

But no wall to protect America. Bigger immigrant flows than under Obama. More H1B visas for foreign workers than under Obama. Trump’s SCOTUS appointee Gorsuch voted to let even more immigrants in. No new infrastructure for America. No fixed trade deals.

Instead of “MAGA” we got “MIGA”.

If we want MAGA we’ve got to kick this jerk out in 2020. And we’ve got to stop Israel from meddling in American politics. Once and for all.

#2 Comment By Bob On May 14, 2018 @ 3:54 am

Regime change:

Peeking into your neighbour’s house and then thinking, “hmm, I don’t like his furnishings or the way he’s decorated the living room. Let me (forcibly) change it to something that I like better.”

In what world would that be successful?

#3 Comment By Uncle Billy On May 14, 2018 @ 8:16 am

How did that regime change business go in Iraq? How about Libya? Why do we think that we can topple governments, install puppet regimes, and live happily ever after? It does not work.

Bolton is supposed to be such a smart guy, but he appears incapable of learning from our mistakes.

#4 Comment By Michelle On May 14, 2018 @ 9:30 am

This administration combines the worst of Fox News with large doses of willful ignorance and stupidity. Regime change? Yeah, that’s worked out real well for us in the past. Trump is definitely living down to my already low expectations for his administration.

#5 Comment By liberal On May 14, 2018 @ 9:41 am

What MAGA Means In 2020 wrote,

No fixed trade deals.

[3]

#6 Comment By liberal On May 14, 2018 @ 9:44 am

What MAGA Means In 2020 wrote,

The crazy Bolton foreign policies are spawning another movement for regime change, a movement of disaffected Trump voters planning to vote out Trump allies in Congress in 2018 and vote out Trump himself in 2020.

I welcome anti-interventionist allies on the right, but the sad fact of the matter is that unless American servicemen are dying in large numbers, the public here doesn’t really care about foreign policy. The other fact is that most Trump voters are not anti-interventionist. There are welcome exceptions, but the only extant antiwar movement in the US lies on the left. And even that appears much weaker than it was in, say, 2003. (Probably as a result of the constant barrage of R2P propaganda.)

#7 Comment By KXB On May 14, 2018 @ 10:12 am

Regime change does not have to result in a US/Israel friendly gov’t. It only needs to result in the state being unable to form even a possible counter-balance to Israel, and to some extent, Saudi Arabia. The lesson of Iraq is not to “Don’t do regime change”. The lesson is, “Don’t stick around to clean up the mess.” So, if we do topple Iran, and a state of 80 million collapses, it won’t matter, our media will not care, so long as US servicemen are not getting killed.

#8 Comment By liberal On May 14, 2018 @ 12:11 pm

KXB, agreed. I doubt we could really topple the regime in Iran, though. The topography isn’t conducive to a land invasion. Bombing won’t be effective enough for regime change, unless we conduct carpet bombing, which even with a state enemy like Iran is going to be difficult given international media.

Likeliest things for the US to try: bombing and sanctioning enough to make the populace suffer, or trying to foment discontent among the considerable number of ethnic minorities.

#9 Comment By elkern On May 14, 2018 @ 12:17 pm

What really motivates Bolton? He’s obviously good at what he does – bureaucratic in-fighting to make the world a worse place for humans – but what makes him “tick”? Is he just a wimpy (but hirsute) Thanos, with some twisted desire to kill (at least half of?) all living beings? Or is he a hired hand, getting paid to promote some secret purpose?

He seems to consistently promote a radical Likudnik perspective, but he was apparently raised Lutheran, so why? Simplest explanation is that he’s in the pocket of the worst faction(s) of AIPAC, enforced with some combination of bribery & extortion. If I’m right (this is only Holmesian theory, based on elimination of alternatives, looking for proof), then exposing that connection would be a good first step to bringing him down and possibly saving the world.

#10 Comment By GregR On May 14, 2018 @ 12:47 pm

KXB,

That may be true. Right up to the point that a destabilized Iran starts sinking oil shipments out of the Persian Gulf and Saudi Oil can’t get to market. I guess it would short term be good for US oil exports, but who knows what it would do to the world wide price of oil.

Iran could functionally shut down all the oil exports from the following: Qatak, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Iran of course. And all it would really take is a few TOW shoulder fired missiles to do it. The Strait of Hormuz shipping lanes are only about 2 miles wide and carry 20% of the worlds oil on a year to year basis. A destabilized Iran could shut it down for years just by sinking a number of derelict ships in the shipping lanes.

So far it has always been in Iran’s best interest to keep the straits open because most of its oil revenue passes thru them, and the consequences of shutting it down would be an immediate invasion by the US. But this behavior is only predictable if a relatively stable Iranian regime is in power. Topple it and have a half dozen groups start fighting for control and all bets are off. All it would take is one of them to decide it is in their interest and pop goes the world oil market.

Just for fun, oil analysts did an assessment of the effects on oil prices if Iran were to shut down the straits. The best guess is oil prices would spike $50/barrel or more in the first couple of days. driving current prices to $120 or so. If the straits remained closed long term prices could go even higher, with $200/bl oil not being out of the question.

#11 Comment By b. On May 14, 2018 @ 3:33 pm

Obama pioneered the Powell Pottery Barn Rule 2.0 in Libya – “Break it, then disown it.” Whatever Trump might fleetingly believe he is thinking, that would certainly be the roadmap for Iran. The US does not really need compliant regimes and subsidiary states, mostly it needs fragmented states and weak governments. The “international order” does not serve the impunitivism that has become US conduct in international affairs, and as long as the EU is not willing to break with the US, and China and Russia are not willing to challenge the US effectively through the UN, the US willingly accepts, and increasingly aims at, the destruction of governments and institutions of governance in whatever nations it can get away with this “creative destruction”.

Russia and China understand that this will not end until they, too, have been broken up. However, they appear to believe that the US government is still a “rational actor”, a rogue nation but not one ruled by madmen and incompetents. It is increasingly difficult to share their optimism. Meanwhile, the EU, much like the Democratic Party, appears to believe that by 2020, we will be back to “business as usual”. That is delusional, especially for those that live in, or with, the country now known as Brexitannia.