Las Cruces Sun-News: Bolton giving Trump poor advice on Iran
Bolton giving Trump poor advice on Iran
Ali G. Scotten,
The U.S. will not waver from its course of maximum pressure against Iran, White House national security adviser John Bolton said Monday, as the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers appears unraveling with the Trump administration’s pullout. (July 8) AP, AP
Americans will die if John Bolton gets his way. Slowly but surely, the ultra-hawkish National Security Advisor is dragging President Trump into a war with Iran. If you’re feeling déjà vu watching the news, you’re not alone. It’s the run-up to the Iraq disaster all over again — and Bolton is a big reason why.
Taking a page out of the Dick Cheney playbook, Bolton is manipulating intelligence before it reaches President Trump’s desk in an effort to inflate the Iran threat. Throughout his career in government, Bolton has been notorious for sidelining views that contradict his own. Now, as President Trump’s top security advisor, he’s bypassing the intelligence community and their diligent methods of providing the president with well-informed and reasoned analysis, and is instead funneling in assessments that align with his hawkish strategy.
In another echo of Iraq, Bolton is championing a fringe diaspora group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK), that is telling us we’ll be greeted as liberators once we overthrow the Iranian regime. Bolton has received tens of thousands of dollars from the MEK, despite the State Department having previously designated them as a foreign terrorist organization for their role in assassinating American contractors and fighting on behalf of Saddam Hussein. Meanwhile, the group is nearly unanimously despised in Iran.
Just as he did prior to the Iraq war, Bolton is also downplaying how devastating a conflict would be. He believes that the Iranian government will likely back down when faced with maximum pressure but, if all else fails, some limited air strikes are sure to put them back in their place. However, that’s not what history tells us. In the 1980s, Iran fought off an eight-year attack from Saddam, losing half a million Iranians in the process. Decades later, crushing sanctions weren’t enough to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program. Only when Washington showed a willingness to make a deal did Tehran agree to limit its uranium enrichment. Instead of cowing Iran, the administration’s decisions to pull out of the nuclear deal, strangle the country through sanctions, and empower hawks like Bolton have sent the message that President Trump is out to get the Iranians no matter what they do. In this siege environment, we shouldn’t be surprised when Iran attacks U.S. drones or oil tankers and increases its levels of enriched uranium.
Iran’s activities in the Middle East are undoubtedly problematic. Just ask the people of Syria, or the Iranian people for that matter. Iran, as well as our allies in the region, should be pressed to promote stability and human rights. But Bolton’s current strategy is manufacturing a crisis, goading Iran into taking actions that can justify his desire for war. Despite its anti-American rhetoric, the Islamic Republic isn’t out to attack the United States directly — unless its leaders feel they have no other option. Iran has prepared for a defensive war against the United States for the past 40 years, and Iran’s population is over three times larger than Iraq’s was when we invaded. A war with Iran will kill thousands of Americans and put an end to our economic recovery.
The president is getting dangerous advice. To protect the thousands of brave New Mexican men and women in uniform, our representatives in Congress must speak with one voice and say, John Bolton must go.
Ali G. Scotten heads the New Mexico Chapter of the National Iranian American Council and is a Security Fellow with the Truman National Security Project. Opinions are his own.