Bolton’s Iran Regime Collapse Fantasy
Haaretz reports on John Bolton’s support for trying to bring about the collapse of the Iranian government:
These sources specifically pointed to Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, as someone who is behind the scenes advancing the option of collapsing the Iranian regime.
Bolton had publicly advocated such a line for many years and even did so as late as January, shortly before he replaced H.R. McMaster in the White House.
According to Haaretz’s sources, Bolton views the demonstrations that have broken out in Iran in recent months over the state of the country’s economy as an indication of the regime’s weakness. He has told Trump that increased U.S. pressure could lead to the regime’s collapse.
One person who recently spoke with senior White House officials on the subject summarized Bolton view in the words: “One little kick and they’re done.”
Bolton has long been an advocate of regime change in Iran, and he has become even more insistent about it since he became a prominent booster for the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK). This report tracks with what we have heard about regime change plans being circulated in the White House since Bolton succeeded McMaster this spring. Bolton is linked to a cultish exile group that seeks the overthrow of the Iranian government, and he is now trying to advance that agenda in his capacity as National Security Advisor just as we feared he would.
Seeking to collapse the Iranian government has all the hallmarks of Bolton’s usual hubris and stupidity. It is a policy that would be a disaster for Iran and the region if it succeeded, and just by making the attempt the U.S. would be repeating the colossal errors of its previous regime change policies in the region. If this becomes U.S. policy, it will be another obnoxious and destructive attempt to interfere in the affairs of a foreign country, and it will make our government even more widely and deeply hated in Iran than it already is.
Iran is one of the last relatively stable countries in the region, so it is insane to want to foment more upheaval and disorder there. Trying to collapse of a government in a country of more than eighty million people would have huge and unforeseen consequences for the population and for Iran’s many neighbors. Having set much of the rest of the region ablaze, the U.S. would be trying to burn down one of the few structures in the neighborhood that hasn’t yet caught on fire.
If Bolton really thinks that all it will take is “one little kick” to bring down the Iranian government, he is more deluded than I thought. Iran hawks predictably misunderstand the country they hate, and so they tend to indulge in a lot of wishful thinking when they try to interpret events there. If they assume that the regime is close to collapse, it almost certainly isn’t. In any case, regime change is always more difficult and more costly than its advocates expect, and there are always negative consequences for the U.S. and the affected country that they never bother to take into account.
Even if the current Iranian government were to collapse at some point, whatever replaces it is not going to be better for the region, the Iranian people, or the U.S. If Bolton gets his way, the people of Iran will suffer the most. That isn’t something the U.S. should be trying to cause, and it is a testament to Bolton’s hostility to the Iranian people that he wants to do it.