Neocon hawk John Bolton is a warmonger left over from the George W Bush administration who has returned to the centre of power in Washington DC. There, he continues to agitate for war against Iran, or essentially anyone else who gets in America’s way. Furthermore, Bolton is so rabidly anti-Palestinian and in favour of Israeli war crimes and apartheid that he is considered to be hard-line by many people, even in Washington’s pro-Israel establishment.
The imperialist arrogance of President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor is by no means limited to the Middle East. Most recently, he was photographed with a notepad which “accidentally” revealed a plan to send “5,000 [US] troops to Columbia” to aid the coup attempt in Venezuela.
Back in the Bush Junior era, as an influential official at the US State Department Bolton helped to fabricate Colin Powell’s case for war against Iraq. Powell infamously gave his fraudulent presentation at the UN, which precipitated the 2003 invasion and occupation. The claim was that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” and as such presented an imminent threat to the world. It was all lies, of course.
As millions of people around the world predicted, no such weapons were found after the devastating US-British invasion. Bolton’s part in that atrocity should neither be forgiven nor forgotten. The real US aim in the invasion of Iraq was to control and purloin Iraq’s oil. The same is true about the current US aggression against Venezuela, another oil-rich country.
In one memorable segment of John Pilger’s important 2003 documentary Breaking The Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror, Bolton and other Iraq war-era US officials are grilled by the veteran investigative journalist on Iraqi civilian casualties. At that time, they were thought to be as high as 10,000, although it later emerged that the true figure was likely to be more like 1 million.
As the interview concludes, Bolton, clearly unused to being questioned by a real journalist, blurts out to Pilger, “You’re a Communist Party member!” It’s a revealing moment of red-baiting.
Bolton also briefly spent time as Bush’s envoy to the UN, an astonishing appointment for somebody who once opined that the international organisation doesn’t really exist and that the world would not notice the difference were the UN building in New York to disappear.
After spending some years in the political wilderness and regarded as too arrogant and blustering even for the war-friendly US establishment, Bolton made his return last year. As part of the Trump administration’s apparent mission in life to gather together all of the worst people in America as advisors, aides and officials, Bolton was brought in to advise Trump on issues of national security. He’s been taking advantage of the position ever since.
As well as fomenting a coup against the popular, elected socialist government of Venezuela, and threatening an invasion (which wouldn’t be the first overt or covert US invasion of a Latin or South American country), Bolton has been busy shoring up US support for Israel. When Trump declared recently that US troops would leave Syria immediately (they have been discretely but illegally occupying part of the country for years, under cover of the civil war), there was uproar among the US foreign policy establishment. The declaration was soon peddled back.
Israel opposes US withdrawal from Syria, so Bolton was dispatched there to reassure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that US troops would not withdraw until the US was “sure that the defence of Israel and our other friends in the region is absolutely assured.” It was another sign that Trump is something of a clueless front man for the extremists and racists behind him who are really running the White House, because Bolton’s statement contradicted the US President, who had set no such conditions for the troop withdrawal.
During that meeting in Israel, Bolton and Netanyahu also discussed the Golan Heights, part of southern Syria which Israel has occupied illegally for decades. Thousands of Syrians were driven out of the Golan by Israel, who then demolished hundreds of their villages and built Jewish settlements on the ruins. The Israeli government officially annexed the Golan in 1981, but the US and other western nations have never recognised the legitimacy of the move.
Netanyahu and some of his allies in the US have recently been pushing for a reversal of US policy on the Golan, in much the same way as the decades-old US policy on Jerusalem was reversed successfully under Trump last year, when he recognised Jerusalem as the “capital” of Israel and moved the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
John Bolton was given a “Defender of Israel” award last year by the hard-right, openly racist Zionist Organisation of America. This was perfectly appropriate for someone who may be pushing for the US to accept the illegal Israeli occupation of southern Syria by falsely declaring it to be part of Israel. That would be neither legal nor just, of course, but for the neocon hawk shoring up Israel in the White House, such legal niceties don’t matter.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.