Letting a Warmonger Rant

Just as the New York Times promoted fake facts to rationalize invading Iraq, it has just published a deceptive op-ed to justify bombing Iran, the ranting of one of America’s most notorious warmongers, John Bolton, as Lawrence Davidson describes.

By Lawrence Davidson

The year was 1968. I had just earned a master’s degree in history at Georgetown University, where I had also helped found the university’s chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

Unfortunately, there was no time to celebrate, because within days of getting the degree I was on U.S. Army bus, along with about 30 others, heading from Washington, D.C. to Fort Holabird in Baltimore. At that time there was a military draft induction center there, and according to my low draft lottery number, my time had come.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.

At Holabird we piled into a classroom-like setting and were given a lecture by a rather over-muscled middle-aged sergeant with buzz haircut.

He told us (I am paraphrasing from memory here) that “the Vietnam war was absolutely necessary. If the commies got their way the domino effect would see all of Southeast Asia go Red. There was no way you could negotiate with Hanoi and so it was time to increase the intensity of bombing over North Vietnam.”

I remember that he ended by telling us that “there were no innocent civilians in Vietnam – when they call their soldiers part of a people’s army, they mean it.”

Only later did I realize he was extrapolating on the position laid out by the infamous General Curtis “Bomb Them Back to the Stone Age” Lemay. When the sergeant had talked himself out, he began distributing the written intelligence and aptitude tests that were part of the pre-induction process. As he was doing so he asked if there were any questions. I was the only one who raised a hand.

 

You have to keep in mind that I was 23 years old, a radical, and not afraid of authority figures. So I asked him, “Why should any of us here believe a word you say about this war when all you have given us are opinions standing in for facts?”

He looked at me in a murderous way and said: “What is it about these forms that you don’t understand?” A good number of the boys (I was the oldest among the prospective inductees) in the room laughed – at me. What the heck can you expect from cannon fodder.

I eventually beat the draft and forgot about the above incident. That is, until I read John Bolton’s March 26 op-ed “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran” in the New York Times.

2015: Bolton’s Bombs

John Bolton is a neoconservative veteran of the George W. Bush era known for his real talent for temper tantrums. His claims to fame include serving as President Bush’s Under Secretary of State for Arms Control in which capacity he undercut international efforts to limit such things as biological weapons.

Bolton also served as Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations, apparently chosen for this post mainly because he despised the UN. Under George W. Bush, the times were truly Orwellian. Finally – and this is what took me back to 1968 – Bolton’s op-ed demonstrated that he can’t tell the difference between his own opinion and fact.

Let’s analyze Bolton’s Times op-ed:

First, Bolton is absolutely convinced that Iran will produce nuclear weapons. How does he know? Because “Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident.” To firm up his case, he misleadingly tells us that “the president’s own director of National Intelligence [James Clapper] testified in 2014 that they [economic sanctions] had not stopped Iran’s progressing its nuclear program.”

Yes, the quote is accurate, but Mr. Bolton’s use of it is not. As intelligence agencies — including those under Clapper — attest, the nuclear program Iran has been working on since 2003 is not a weapons program. Rather, it is one aimed at the production of energy and nuclear medical capabilities.

Again, it should be emphasized that it is the consensus of all U.S. intelligence agencies that there is no recent evidence that Iran seeks to build nuclear weapons (an assessment first made in 2007 and repeated regularly since then). Today there is no evidence that would cause a change of view. 

However, Mr. Bolton is so obsessed with bombs that, in the case of Iran, there is no difference between any sort of nuclear program and a weapons program. And, he obviously feels his opinion is more “true” than the estimates of professional intelligence agencies.

It is a blind spot he shares with the Republican Party and other certain political leaders, such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Of course, it is exactly to ensure that Iran’s “progress” stays focused on non-weapon use of nuclear power that the present negotiations between the P5 + 1 and Iran are directed. But Bolton will never be satisfied. He “knows” the Iranians are out for weapons. Maybe he is psychic.

Second, Bolton claims that taking the negotiation or diplomatic path with Iran has triggered a nuclear arms race in the region. How does he know this? The Saudis tell him so. The governing oligarchy in Riyadh has already said that if the Shiite Iranians are building the bomb, they want nuclear weapons too.

Like Bolton, the Saudis equate know-how with production. So Bolton tells us that we can expect the Saudis to acquire nuclear weapons from Pakistan – and it is all Iran’s fault. Hold on! Why shouldn’t it be Israel’s fault?

Israel was the first country in the Middle East to actually build and stockpile nuclear weapons. In Bolton’s mind, apparently, that’s different. Bolton tells us “other states in the region understood that Israel’s nukes were intended as a deterrent, not as an offensive measure. Iran is a different story.”

This is a proposition for which Bolton offers no proof. Given Israel’s continuous history of aggressive expansion, just what is the Israeli stockpile deterring? After all, holding a nuclear weapon over other people’s heads while you conquer Arab land seems a very offensive use of “deterrence.” And sure “Iran is different story.” It doesn’t even own a nuclear weapon, much less a stockpile.

Third, John Bolton has an answer for all of this. Being a neoconservative who cut his teeth on undermining arms control, the answer is that “only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor can accomplish what is required.” He goes on to detail the targets and the ultimate goal of his proposed aggression: “Rendering inoperable the Natanz and Fordow uranium-enrichment installations and the Arak heavy-water production facility and reactor would be priorities. So, too, would be the little-noticed but critical uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan.

“The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.”

What this scenario actually proves is that Mr. Bolton has little capacity to think his schemes through. By his own admission such a bombing adventure would only “set back its [Iran’s] program three to five years,” meanwhile killing thousands, making a dangerous enemy of Iran for years to come and, last but not least, risking a war in the Persian Gulf that would seriously disrupt the world’s flow of oil.

And let’s not forget that such an attack would, at the very least, disrupt Iran’s fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, an Iranian effort that is supporting an important U.S. interest.

As for Israel, Bolton is exaggerating. The Zionist state does not have the capacity to “do what’s necessary.” The distance between the two countries is prohibitive, and even if Israeli warplanes could get to Iran and back (say by refueling in, of all places, Saudi Arabia), the operation would take multiple sorties, during which Israel stands to lose a good number of planes and pilots.

In fact, Prime Minister Netanyahu has sought to prepare the Israeli air force for an attack on Iran only to have his own military officers strongly object.

Sloppy Thinking

John Bolton’s op-ed to the New York Times is just a mess – a dangerous flight of fancy based on skewed opinions rather than hard evidence and facts. In what must have been a very weak moment while writing this piece, he actually admits that there is a “lack of palpable evidence” for his case. He then moves right ahead as if the absence of evidence and facts just do not matter.

And what are the facts? Well, the Iranians do have a certain level of nuclear know-how which has been turned toward energy production and medical use. They do not have a nuclear bomb and have repeatedly said they don’t want a nuclear bomb. They have stated that they have religious objections to moving in that direction and know that the use of such a weapon would be a suicidal act.

Western governments, pressured by Zionist and other special interests, have decided that the Iranians are not trustworthy, and so draconian economic sanctions have been implemented. Now, negotiations to put in place mechanisms to ensure that the Iranians stay true to their word appear near completion.

However, just like that hard-nosed sergeant back in 1968, Bolton dismisses negotiations. Like the analytically deficient noncom at the induction center, he is much more comfortable with death and destruction.

And indeed, given Bolton’s influence on the Right, his public advocacy of a nuclear attack on Iran in 2009, and his having become a foreign policy adviser for presidential candidate Ted Cruz, he might be judged the most dangerous man in the U.S. – if it wasn’t for the fact that he has so much competition:

Republican leaders in Congress are beating their breasts and swearing that they are going to destroy the President’s one positive effort to make the world safer. Then, there are the sharks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) who are determined, for the sake of Israel, to make war on Iran right down to the last American soldier. And there are the untold millions of Christian Zionists who see any conflagration in the Middle East as a good thing because it brings closer the biblical Armageddon and the End Times for which they positively yearn.

What is the New York Times doing publishing this nonsense? It seems to me when you accept a piece for an op-ed page it should be recognized as having been thought through and demonstrating some relation to reality. And, you should certainly make sure that it does not represent, as Robert Parry put it, an “incitement to murder and violation of international law.” I guess the Times’ editors disagree.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

23 comments for “Letting a Warmonger Rant

  1. Dwight
    April 1, 2015 at 18:49

    I think that these Neocon. warmongers like Bolton need to be the first to go to the front lines no matter how old they are unless they have already served which most of them have not…and/or bring back the draft… everybody under 70 goes to war unless they have already served. There would be a lot less warmongering. After all, these hypocrites are willing to send your children to war for the their political goals, but they or their children are damned sure not going.

    • R Perkins
      April 3, 2015 at 03:30

      Reinstate the draft and all under 70 who have not served in the military or peace corps will be drafted. No exceptions..Blind? Have a braille job for them. Neo-cons first then Romney then Cruz. Then there will be no war. They will love Obama’s peace deal.

  2. Vesuvius
    April 1, 2015 at 12:50

    Professor Davidson, THANK YOU ever so much for this important article.

    In case of a Republican victory in 2016, Mr Bolton may appear again in some position in or near The White House. That gives me the creeps.

  3. March 31, 2015 at 20:14

    For the record, explanation of the law and policy, fact basis for Operation Iraqi Freedom: http://learning-curve.blogspot.com/2014/05/operation-iraqi-freedom-faq.html .

    • Eddie
      March 31, 2015 at 21:32

      @ Eric – With that kind of naivete, you’d better stay away from TV infomercials or you’ll max-out your credit-cards. That linked article just reiterates all the exaggerated & bogus rationales that Cheney/Bush/Wolfwitz/et al used to try to justify their invasion of Iraq. Where were the dreaded ‘weapons of mass destruction’ that were supposedly a lynchpin of our necessity to invade? Where’s the cooked intelligence, the #10 Downing St memo, etc, etc? The author cares about world peace and international law as much as Hitler, Mussolini, and other tyrants did – – – strictly as something to twist into a vague rationalization to attack countries they don’t like or just want to exploit materially (can you say ‘oil’?)

    • dahoit
      April 1, 2015 at 13:07

      Wasn’t it really Operation Iraqi Liberation,or just OIL for short?

  4. dave johnson
    March 31, 2015 at 18:33

    John Bolton used to appear all the time on Chicago’s WLS radio on the Don Wade show. Wade died 2 years ago of a brain tumor. With John Bolton the song was always the same, “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, War, War, War.” Iran’s military could give up all its weapons except slingshots and pea shooters and Bolton would still want a war with Iran.

  5. Zachary Smith
    March 31, 2015 at 10:32

    (18+ hours after first post attempt)

    The year was 1968.

    Time to play the contrarian. Imagine the year to be 1940 instead. All the smart young men were flailing around for peace then as well. Gerald Ford, JFK, Lindbergh, and many businessmen. (trading with the Nazis was VERY profitable) In hindsight we know they were dead wrong, and the peaceniks in 1968 were right, but hindsight vision is nearly always 20/20.

    They do not have a nuclear bomb and have repeatedly said they don’t want a nuclear bomb.

    At this point Mr. Davidson “pulls a Bolton” and substitutes his opinion for ‘fact’. Iran probably hasn’t built a nuclear device, but I’d not bet the farm against it. They might have acquired the raw materials from somebody else; as in bought or stole the needed stocks. It’s almost 70 years since Alamogordo, and even school kids with access to a good library can design a working bomb. Anyhow, as reported here, the US of A has GIVEN Iran blueprints with only a few flaws. If they got their hands on a few Soviet weapons when the USSR broke up, they don’t need to do a speck of research.

    Iran might have bought/stolen some Pu from a corrupt individual within one of the world’s corporation. After all, hundreds of tons of that material is sloshing around the world. It could have a deal with North Korea. Iran has a lot of money, and also a lot of missile building skills. NK needs both.

    As for not wanting such a weapon, I don’t doubt the sincerity of the Iranian statement, but the Religious Leader doesn’t speak for everybody over there. I doubt if the Iranian military tells him everything that’s going on, and if those military leaders decided they needed a few nukes, I’d bet a paycheck they have a few.

    As many events since WW2 have shown, nuclear weapons aren’t all that useful for everyday use. That Israel hasn’t already nuked Iran suggests to me they have reason to fear a payback. So the NYT brings out the likes of Bolton and tries once again to get the US to do the heavy lifting for the shitty little apartheid warmongering state.

    IMO Iran having a few hypothetical nukes is going to do a lot more to maintain peace than their being bare-butt naked in that regard. The US knew Iraq didn’t have any WMDs and look what happened there. It also knew North Korea did have them, and that country has not been attacked.

    • dahoit
      April 1, 2015 at 13:04

      Please document Iran perfidy.We are the serial liars,wo honor.They say the nuke is Unislamic.Until their stance is undermined by facts that differ,I will give Iran the benefit of the doubt.
      I do agree them having nukes would level the playing field,and counteract the hydrophobia of our unintelligentsia.

    • Zachary Smith
      April 1, 2015 at 15:03

      …perfidy…

      Full Definition of PERFIDY
      1: the quality or state of being faithless or disloyal : treachery
      2: an act or an instance of disloyalty

      That’s not exactly the word I’d use to describe what I’ve speculated Iran might have done. “Prudent” would have been my choice.

      Here is a link to a site where I used to post until the nutcase Zionist site owner started censoring my efforts. My contribution is down towards the bottom of the comments.

      https://warsclerotic.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/israel-is-prepared-to-unleash-a-nuclear-electromagnetic-pulse-emp-against-iran-sometime-this-fall/

      Yeah, it’s the Israelis who made the claim about the purchase of the Russian nukes, and as we all know, they lie a lot. But even murderous thieving liars like that shitty little nation have genuine security concerns. Even if they were making this tale up out of thin air, there could well have been other sales. And other sources.

      I take the approach that if I was in charge of defending some country, I’d do the best I could with the resources available to me. For example, put me in charge of Defense in the Netherlands, and I’d damned sure try to get some nuclear weapons as quietly and quickly as possible. And as many other WMDs as I could manage. Ditto for Bangladesh.

      I make the assumption other people would do the same for the defense of their nations. Iran has a lot of money, and has had a lot of time. I figure somebody over that way has some surprises hidden away – if doing so was at all possible.

  6. Meteor Blades
    March 31, 2015 at 02:55

    Nobody had draft lottery numbers in 1968.

    • dahoit
      April 1, 2015 at 13:00

      Well in ’70 they did,and I was #17.F*ck.My friends had to drive me into an oak tree on the Meadowbrook Parkway on Halloween night which gave me spinal fusion and 4F instead of 1A.
      I even went to Ft.Hamilton before the accident(a week)to be judged fit and able.i passed the audition with flying colors.

  7. Izzy
    March 30, 2015 at 21:00

    Gosh dang, there seriously are some rabid war monger freaks just itching for another war! What the hell is wrong with these hot headed war loving jerks? I believe in the strongest and best defense force for our homeland. Indeed. But there are some within the military industrial complex that are literally trolling around the world antagonizing things just for a reason to play with their big guns and bombs. These people are sick bastards with major issues and definitely off balanced. Iran is not even in our dang hemisphere. The regional powers and stakeholders of that region should be the ones to declare war on Iran if need be. These same freaks want to go to war with Russia too just to try to justify their own pathetic obsession with their narrow minded militaristic views. Oh and let’s not forget McCain’s wanting to declare war with No. Korea over an email hack at Sony. They are nut cases IMHO. Truly dangerous men who have such tunnel vision that they can’t see the forest for the trees and sadly, too many in our own Senate and government are giving them way too much power and control to dictate fate. Ugh. Aren’t these old creeps ever going to die off so a new generation of balanced military leadership can arise?

  8. Izzy
    March 30, 2015 at 21:00

    Gosh dang, there seriously are some rabid war monger freaks just itching for another war! What the hell is wrong with these hot headed war loving jerks? I believe in the strongest and best defense force for our homeland. Indeed. But there are some within the military industrial complex that are literally trolling around the world antagonizing things just for a reason to play with their big guns and bombs. These people are sick bastards with major issues and definitely off balanced. Iran is not even in our dang hemisphere. The regional powers and stakeholders of that region should be the ones to declare war on Iran if need be. These same freaks want to go to war with Russia too just to try to justify their own pathetic obsession with their narrow minded militaristic views. Oh and let’s not forget McCain’s wanting to declare war with No. Korea over an email hack at Sony. They are nut cases IMHO. Truly dangerous men who have such tunnel vision that they can’t see the forest for the trees and sadly, too many in our own Senate and government are giving them way too much power and control to dictate fate. Ugh. Aren’t these old creeps ever going to die off so a new generation of balanced military leadership can arise?

    • dahoit
      April 1, 2015 at 12:55

      Tom Cotton is 37?

  9. Johnny
    March 30, 2015 at 19:31

    Stefan, to answer your post, as an American citizen:

    “It is quite amazing, that after decades of misinformation, mis-education, disinformation, that has led America onto a seemingly never ending warpath that has crippled its economy and knocked it off from the delusional moral ground it was standing on to begin with, these warmongers are still at it, more so than ever, with even more blatant lying and propaganda.”

    It has been over a century of misinformation, miseducation, and disinformation. The US is not a democracy and certainly not the “good guys” during the World Wars as a history of extensive propaganda might make one think. Read the works of Henry Ford, Ezra Pound, Eustice Mullins for more details, or the historical “bad guys” in general of the past century, and see exactly what it was that made them “bad guys”. A warning though, is that this will be like taking the red pill, comparative to the scene in the Matrix; once you know the truth, it cannot be undone. “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

    “It is quite amazing, a phenomenon that I think will give future historian, sociologists, psychologists etc… alot of material and plenty of questions.”

    US Foreign Policy is not exactly rocket science. For over 100 years, it has been crushing independent nations (whether democratic or not) to form one world dictatorship, and the program has seriously accelerated since the end of WWII and he acquisition of nuclear weapons, with attempted overthrows of some 70 sovereign foreign governments since.

    “I am a Scandinavian myself, my initial question is, why is the american people letting these people get away with it, again? After decades of treasonous acts, lying and disasters.”

    The same could be said for Scandinavian people as their governments are controlled by the same people who control the US Government (see Erik’s post). Don’t think for a second that Scandinavian nations are independent and sovereign entities. There’s a reason Edward Snowden did not go the way of Scandinavia and why Julian Assange is still locked up in an Embassy. If Scandinavian countries did exercise their independence and sovereignty, in whatever form, you can be sure that your nations would be seen in the same light as Venezuela, Iran, Russia, North Korea, etc. in the mainstream press and that war and economic sabotage would be at your door step.

    What I would personally like to see is independent governments like a Russia open their doors to political dissidents fed up with corruption in their own societies, a sort of brain drain, to take away tax dollars from the offending nations while weakening their currencies. Of course this is unlikely to happen since a lot of spies would pose as political dissidents and these countries would be unnecessarily exposing themselves to harm.

    So what’s the solution to fight a corrupt system? Independence from the corrupt system. Relying on such a system for your survival only strengthens it.

    • Robert Pates
      March 31, 2015 at 11:55

      Very well put. In other words, the worst crime any government can commit in the eyes of the US, is to go for genuine independence.

  10. March 30, 2015 at 18:51

    The prison at Gitmo should be reconstituted to hold war criminals like Bolton and Cheney.

  11. Erik
    March 30, 2015 at 18:08

    Stefan, here is why:
    1. Because economic concentrations control US elections and the mass media, the people of the US have no information or options other than those presented by business.
    2. Because only bully-boys rise in business above the middle level of efficient managers and good professionals, economic concentrations always represent the attitudes of bully-boys, which are dominance first, then split the spoils, and cover up later by purchasing propaganda services.
    3. Because bully-boys can dominate erstwhile democracies only by creating foreign wars to demand domestic power and accuse their opponents of disloyalty, they are warmongers in politics.
    4. Israel controls the oligarchy and the press with a combination of money, threats and actions against its opponents by managers, and promising rewards to opportunists who pose as defenders of the Jews so as to persecute the Palestinians and get business rewards.

    There is no peaceful way to depose this oligarchy: the US can restore domestic democracy only by attacking its own oligarchy. And now it cannot restore peace to the ME without defeating Israel militarily. Sadly, all hope for peaceful solutions is lost with gangs in control of the US.

  12. Stefan
    March 30, 2015 at 16:03

    Basically all the op-eds of the major news media in the US are basically similar to Bolton’s view and rhetoric.

    It is quite amazing, that after decades of misinformation, mis-education, disinformation, that has led America onto a seemingly never ending warpath that has crippled its economy and knocked it off from the delusional moral ground it was standing on to begin with, these warmongers are still at it, more so than ever, with even more blatant lying and propaganda.

    It is quite amazing, a phenomenon that I think will give future historian, sociologists, psychologists etc… alot of material and plenty of questions.

    I am a Scandinavian myself, my initial question is, why is the american people letting these people get away with it, again? After decades of treasonous acts, lying and disasters.

    • Nexus789
      March 30, 2015 at 18:07

      But the US is the ‘exceptional’ and ‘indispensable’ nation didn’t you know. That message and others has been use to ‘educate’ the masses. I worked in the US and even so called educated Americans have an amazingly distorted of the US and its role – its the world’s policeman, we are only bringing democracy, those foreigners are so ungrateful, etc, etc. There is no hope for Washington as they freely indulge in genocide and the degenerate Bolton reflects this arrogant attitude.

  13. M A
    March 30, 2015 at 15:40

    Tie a bomb to each side of his thatch and fire him towards Iran; we would see how far he could fly!

  14. Fred
    March 30, 2015 at 14:11

    This man is a criminal and he should not be listened to or given an opportunity to write an op-ed.

Comments are closed.