Yes! It’s true! You did read that right. President Donald Trump has sacked his National Security Advisor, John Bolton, telling him his services are “no longer needed”.
Mr Bolton learned of his sad fate this morning when his former boss tweeted: “I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House.”
The President added mysteriously:
“I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning.”
However, Mr Bolton, not to be left behind in the battle of the Tweetosphere, has given his own version of events, insisting that it was he who resigned, and not the President who resigned him. Well, you pays your money and you takes your choice. Either way, it is certain that the two men had one hell of a row last night.
It would seem that matters came to a head over Donald Trump’s kind invitation for representatives of the Taliban to come to Washington to participate in (secret) talks over a peace deal in Afghanistan. Coming immediately after a bloody bombing in Kabul, in which, apart from numerous unfortunate Afghans, a US military man was killed, perhaps Donald’s timing was not the best. But that was hardly the reason for Bolton’s ire – or for his subsequent defenestration.
I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2019
This was by no means the only question on which the two men disagreed. The truth is that, when Trump appointed Bolton to the high office of National Security Advisor, he did not realise what he was letting himself in for. Apparently, Bolton got the job because the Man in the White House enjoyed the ranting speeches he used to deliver on the Fox News, which, as everybody knows, is Donald’s favourite TV show (after The Simpsons, of course)
Now, you and I may have had the impression that Donald J. Trump stands rather to the right-of-centre in the broad spectrum of US politics. But compared to John Bolton, he is merely a lily-livered pinko of the worst sort.
I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, "Let's talk about it tomorrow."— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) September 10, 2019
Oh no! If you are looking for a genuine, true-blue, stars-and-stripes, hard-nosed, Johnny-get-your-gun, right-wing hoodlum, then look no further: Mr. John Bolton is definitely your kind of guy.
Mr. Trump even assured reporters a while ago that he had to restrain Mr. Bolton. However, Donald has had to learn the hard way that it is a bit difficult to restrain a man who stands only a fraction to the left of Genghis Khan.
John Bolton: cold warrior extraordinaire
It is not clear whether Donald Trump really believes in anything, except himself. By contrast, John Bolton is definitely a True Believer. He may not be a born-again Christian of the lunatic school of Pompeo or Pence – his religious fervour was of a different type (although he got along just fine with the Religious Right). But he is a fanatical, bigoted reactionary who believes in the necessity of resurrecting the Cold War and carrying the Crusade against Communism to every corner of the terrestrial globe.
For years he had been waiting for this opportunity. When he finally had power as the National Security Advisor, he firmly intended to use it. Early last year, he announced his intention to carry out regime change, not only in Venezuela but also in Cuba and Nicaragua. John Bolton even accused Cuba of possessing (guess what?) Weapons of Mass Destruction. We should recall that Mr. Bolton was one of the chief architects of the invasion of Iraq, which, incidentally, Donald Trump disagreed with. This gentleman clearly does not believe in half-measures.
Bolton has a long history of violent hostility to anything that smacks of what he calls “Communism.” This includes, of course, the Soviet Union and Red China, but also North Korea (he is mentally still fighting the Korean War), Iran (which has nothing whatsoever to do with anything resembling “Communism”), Syria, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba (naturally), the British Labour Party, the National Health Service and almost all of Scandinavia. And Canada is also a bit suspicious…
Now, when you come to think of it, this adds up to rather a large portion of the planet – most, if not all of which, in Mr. Bolton’s feverish brain, ought to be consigned to the fires of Hell. And since the Man in the White House actually has his finger on a little red button that would accomplish that sacred duty in just one moment, the National Security Advisor imagined he had found himself (by God’s Grace) in the right place at the right time.
But, as he soon discovered, he and the President were not quite on the same wavelength. John Bolton is interested in waging a world-wide crusade against Evil (or Communism, which is the same thing). Donald J. Trump is interested in Donald J. Trump. The two things do not always fit comfortably together. For example, Bolton was never happy about his boss’s cosy relationship with the Little Rocket Man in Pyongyang. He also wanted a harder line on Russia, Iran and Venezuela.
On the Venezuelan coup-that-never-happened, it is hard to know who was fooling whom in this little charade: was it Guaido fooling Bolton, or Bolton fooling Guaido? The Venezuelan opposition leader repeatedly announced the imminent fall of Nicolas Maduro. Meanwhile, every day on the White House lawn, John Bolton announced an imminent mutiny of the generals in Caracas. What happened? Nothing happened—no army revolt, regime change. The entire thing was an absolute farce.
Bolton had suffered a humiliating failure. So what did he do? He called for a US military intervention. This was too much for the generals at the Pentagon. It was reported that, in the course of the meeting with Bolton, one admiral banged the table with his fist and shouted "No!” So poor old John had to go away to sulk in a corner and think of somebody else to bomb.
How about a nice little war with Iran?
His next brilliant idea was even crazier than the last. He decided that it was about time the USA declared war on Iran. From any rational point of view this was a very stupid idea. But it was the logical corollary of the breaking off of the Iran deal that had been already pushed through by Trump, despite the implacable opposition of America’s European allies.
After years of patient diplomacy, they succeeded in getting a deal to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Iran had carried this agreement out, to the letter. It was the Americans who were breaking this deal. Trump imagined that, by reintroducing and tightening economic sanctions against Iran, he could undermine and topple the regime of the mullahs.
It is true that the sanctions have caused serious damage to the Iranian economy, provoking a sharp decline in living standards. It is also true that the regime is very shaky and increasingly unpopular, even among layers that previously supported it. At the start of 2019, there were big demonstrations and strikes in Iran. Trump and Bolton drew the conclusion that one more push would be enough to bring the regime crashing down.
That was a serious miscalculation. Far from weakening the rule of the mullahs, the present conflict with the Americans actually helps the regime, at least in the short run. In reality, there is no question of the Americans invading Iran. The Americans only invaded Iraq after its army had been seriously undermined by years of sanctions. But Iran has a very strong army composed of battle-hardened troops who have just emerged victorious from the war in Syria. If they tried to intervene on the ground, they would get a bloody nose.
For that reason, the only possibility would be a campaign of bombing from a great height. But they cannot destroy Iran’s nuclear programme simply by bombing. Many of the nuclear facilities are buried deep underground in bomb-proof concrete shelters. The Iranians can also move things around, and without international inspectors on the ground to monitor these movements, it will be difficult, if not impossible to locate them.
A war in the Middle East would have immediate consequences for the world economy. Oil prices would soar to new heights, puncturing an already enfeebled recovery. It would act as the catalyst for a new worldwide slump. But even more serious than the economic repercussions would be the political consequences.
Even a limited bombing campaign would have an explosive effect throughout the Middle East and in the United States. The US public is tired of foreign military adventures, and would not be at all happy to be embroiled in another one. There would be mass demonstrations in every US city, which could rapidly turn into a general protest against the government.
That was a little too much for President Trump, who peremptorily cancelled the bombing of Iran with only five minutes’ notice! One can just imagine the reaction of the National Security Advisor, whose face must have resembled that of an angry, sex-starved walrus who has just been denied the chance to mate.
Now we can see what lies behind the present little spat in the Trump administration. There were just too many disagreements, too many rows. In short, there was just not enough elbow room in the White House for two outsized egos to rub along with any degree of comfort. In the well-known phrase, so often uttered in the saloon bars of B-movie westerns: “This here town ain’t big enough for both of us, par’ner.”
If my memory serves me correctly, Bolton is now the third National Security Advisor of this administration to have bitten the dust. By one of those strange coincidences with which history is so rich, the first of these illustrious gentlemen is currently awaiting trial for lying to Congress. A long and happy future doubtless awaits him in a Federal Penitentiary.
As to the future of John Bolton, I will not hazard a guess. Perhaps he will go back to his old job as a TV commentator for Fox News, where he can curse the President and his foreign policy to his heart’s content. Or, he could make a new career designing anti-communist computer war games for children of pre-school age. If all else fails, he could resort to selling second-hand cars.
But then, who would buy a second-hand car from John Bolton?
A sad fate for one with such visionary insights. But perhaps not as sad as the poor President who now, like Citizen Kane in that film by what’s-his-name, in the end finds himself all on his own, lonely and unloved in that gloomy old White House.
He will naturally find it very difficult to locate a suitable replacement for old John. People will think twice before accepting the job of Security Advisor, which is, so to speak, so very insecure. The next one will have to bear a striking resemblance to a pet poodle: diminutive, one who likes having his ears stroked softly, but does not object violently to a kick up the proverbial anus.
Yes, a poodle dog that does not bark but does know how to sit up and beg. It would, of course, have to be a poodle dog that knows how to speak, but only when it is spoken to, and speaks only to praise and glorify his Master and all His Works. Now that is the kind of National Security Advisor a man could live with!