What Will It Take to Get Bolton Fired?
Jason Rezaian engages in a bit of wishful thinking of his own:
Is John Bolton about to get the Iran war he’s always wanted, or is he on the verge of losing his job?
Over the past several days, President Trump’s national security adviser has made comments and issued statements about Iran and Venezuela that are usually reserved for the run-up to military campaigns.
Yet Bolton’s boss doesn’t seem to be playing along.
There is an understandable desire to see Bolton and Trump sharply at odds over foreign policy, but I’m not sure why anyone thinks it is happening. In the L.A. Times article I cited earlier, there is a quote from former ambassador Christopher Hill where he says something similar: “The president is so dead set against military engagement anywhere, and Bolton is so dead set on military engagement, it has left the administration speaking without one voice and overall being sort of feckless.” If Trump and Bolton disagreed with each other this much, it is difficult to explain why Bolton is still allowed to have free rein in making the administration’s foreign policy.
For someone “not playing along,” Trump has obediently given Bolton and the Iran hawks practically everything they have wanted so far. He has gone much further in laying the groundwork for war with Iran than any of his predecessors, and the only reason that many people seem confident that he won’t order an attack is their mistaken belief that he is a non-interventionist when all of the evidence tells us that he is no such thing. Trump presumably doesn’t want to start a multi-year, extremely expensive war that could also throw the economy into a recession, but then every president that launches an illegal war of choice assumes that the war would be much easier and take less time than it does. No one ever knowingly opts for a bloody debacle. The absurdly optimistic hawkish expectations of a quick and easy triumph are always dashed on the rocks of reality, but for some reason political leaders believe these expectations every time because “this time it’s different.” There will come a point where Bolton will tell Trump that attacking Iran (or Venezuela) is the only way to “win,” and Trump will probably listen to him just as he has listened to him on all of these issues up until now.
There is no question that Bolton should lose his job. Even if you aren’t an opponent of Trump, you should be unhappy with the way Bolton has been operating for the last year. He has made a point of sabotaging administration policies he doesn’t like, resisting decisions he doesn’t agree with, and effectively reversing policy changes while pretending to be carrying out the president’s wishes. His mismanagement of the policy process is a bad joke, and the reason he runs the National Security Council this way is so that he can stop views and information that don’t suit his agenda from reaching the president. But Trump pays little or no attention to any of this, and as long as Bolton remains loyal in public and a yes-man in person he is likely safe in his job. If Bolton gets his wish and the U.S. starts a war with Iran, he may not be in that job for much longer, but the damage will have already been done. Instead of counting on Trump to toss Bolton overboard, Congress and the public need to make absolutely clear that war with Iran and Venezuela is unacceptable and Trump will be destroying his presidency if he goes down that path in either country.