John Bolton Is Trying To Manufacture A Conflict With Iran

As tensions between the US and Iran escalate, it's important to look at this through the lens of John Bolton's career-long quest for regime change in Iran.
John R. Bolton speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland – February 24, 2017. (Gage Skidmore)

John R. Bolton speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland – February 24, 2017. (Gage Skidmore)

National Security Adviser John Bolton’s hawkish stance on Iran has been well documented. Bolton’s calls for regime change in Iran long predate his tenure in the White House. When he was appointed by President Trump in April 2018, pundits and Democratic lawmakers raised concerns about what could come. Given the events in recent weeks, those concerns were warranted.

Bolton appears to have propelled President Trump’s foreign policy towards a conflict with Iran. Last Month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the US would designate the Iran Revolutionary Guard, an Iranian military branch, as a terrorist organization. On May 5th, the US sent an. aircraft carrier to the region, warning of potential attacks from Iran. On May 9th, The New York Times reported that upon Bolton’s request, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan presented plans for the potential deployment of 120,000 to the Middle East if Iran executed an attack. On May 15th, the US cited intelligence indicating that there is an impending threat from Iran and ordered an evacuation of the US embassy in Iraq. It’s important to note that US allies have said they see no impending threat. Even Republican members of Congress like Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have expressed anger at how they’re being left in the dark on this intelligence.

This comes after Iran said earlier this month it would begin to withdraw from some components of the Iran Nuclear Deal, more officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), by enriching small amounts of uranium, This was all set in motion in 2018 when President Trump unjustifiably withdrew from the JCPOA. From there, we can see John Bolton’s grand scheme unfold.

As a candidate, Donald Trump promised he would tear up the Iran Nuclear Deal, more officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Under the terms of the deal, Iran would receive relief from economic sanctions in exchange for reducing Iran’s nuclear material and uranium enrichment. This was President Obama’s signature diplomatic achievement and took cooperation with the UN Security Council to pull it off. It was signed in 2015. Trump’s criticized the deal and alleged violations on the part of Iran, even as his own administration’s officials like then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis said none existed.

President Trump withdrew from the deal in May of 2018 – one month after John Bolton took H.R. McMaster’s position as National Security Adviser. It’s more accurate to say the Trump administration violated the JCPOA, because Iran was complying with the deal and was overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – who validated Iran’s compliance 9 separate times. The Trump administration then re-implemented sanctions on Iran. As Rantt Media’s Foreign Policy Editor Jossif Ezekilov outlined in his article at the time, this was a dangerous move:

In withdrawing from the deal, Trump has fulfilled a campaign promise but achieved little else. Worse, he has put America and the rest of the world in a much more precarious place. He has signaled to the rest of the world that US commitments are not to be trusted, which will render further diplomatic endeavors with any country all the more difficult.

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Ezekilov went on to predict that this move would make negotiations with North Korea more difficult, which we saw was the case in both of the Trump-Kim summits. Ezekilov also mentioned that Iran would have the leeway to begin violating the JCPOA. In the immediate aftermath, Iran did not choose to violate the terms of the JCPOA and worked with the European signatories (UK, France, and Germany) to continue to receive the deal’s benefits even without America’s participation.

In response, President Trump threatened to sanction America’s own allies if they do business with Iran – mainly by purchasing Iranian oil which is the bedrock of their economy. These moves have crippled Iran’s economy thoroughly, causing them to get frustrated, triggering the events of this month. Given the fact he campaigned on avoiding frivolous wars, President Trump himself has reportedly grown frustrated with some of his more hawkish advisers and told Shanahan he does not want a war with Iran. But if President Trump was serious about avoiding conflict, he could fire National Security Adviser John Bolton at any time.

When you look at this holistically, it becomes clear that the goal was never to reduce Iran’s nuclear capacity. If the Trump administration wanted to do that, they would’ve stayed in the JCPOA. Bolton wanted an excuse to levy more sanctions on Iran, apply economic pressure on the country, and cause regime change by sparking an uprising among the Iranian people. We’ll see if President Trump comes around to John Bolton’s way of thinking as he remains the most unpopular president in the history of polling. As always, there is a tweet for everything.

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News // Donald Trump / Iran / John Bolton / War / World