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A War Criminal Takes the Helm

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On this one there is no ambiguity. Trump’s naming John Bolton as National Security Adviser is a clear declaration that Washington will intensify its current wars and do its best to start new and bigger ones.

The headline on Middle East expert Juan Cole’s assessment didn’t mince words: “Let’s call Bolton what he is, a War Criminal with Terrorist Ties, not just ‘Hawkish'”

Cole writes:  “John Bolton helped lie our country into an illegal war of aggression that killed several hundred thousand Iraqis, wounded over a million, and displaced 4 million from their homes, helped deliver Baghdad into the hands of Iran, and helped create ISIL, which blew up Paris. In a just world, Bolton would be on trial at The Hague for war crimes. Instead, he has been promoted into a position to do to Iran what he did to Iraq.” (Full text is here.)

The more that comes out about Bolton’s background and views, the more frightening his appointment is. Phyllis Bennis, Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, fills in the details and recounts her own 1994 debate with Bolton here, Videos of four Bolton statements that earned him his ultra-hardline reputation can be viewed on YouTube here.

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David Lefcourt, author of “How the Moneyed Interests Have Stolen America,” writes on Op-Ed news: “This is like putting an NRA stooge in charge of policing an anti-war rally. Armed and ready to take out any protester.” (Full opinion piece here)

A statement issued by from World Beyond War Director David Swanson says Bolton’s nomination is even more extreme than Trump’s week before choice of ultra-hawk Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State and nomination of torturer Gina Haspel to direct the CIA: “Trump [had] just nominated an advocate of overthrows, religious wars, and strenuous avoidance of peace to head the State Department [Pompeo], and simultaneously found someone even worse, a sadistic torturer, to nominate for the top job at the CIA [Haspel]. How do you top that? With the appointment of an unrepentant Iraq war promoter who claims that attacking North Korea would be ‘legal’…” (Full statement here.)

On Alternet, Mehreen Kasana details the ways that “John Bolton Unabashedly Peddles Islamophobic Fake News.” (Full text here.)

And the New York Times, writing from its vantage point as sober defender of the long range interests of the U.S. ruling class, sounded an immediate alarm with a major editorial titled “Yes, John Bolton Really Is That Dangerous.” The Times writes: “Mr. Bolton told Fox News earlier this month that talks would be worthless and has called South Korean leaders “putty in North Korea’s hands.” On February 28, he insisted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that “it is perfectly legitimate for the United States to respond to the current ‘necessity’ posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons by striking first.” (Full text of the editorial is here.)

This is not a time when we can afford to look away from the bitter truth or just hope for the best (or least worst) outcome. This is the end of all illusions, which even were present in parts of the left, that aggressive militarism would not be a core feature of a Trump presidency. This is not a tweet or a campaign rally rant: it’s getting the players in place to launch a major war.

These war-makers can be stopped: even the bulk of the ruling class and military is somewhere between reluctant and opposed to striking Iran or North Korea.  But without a lot of noise and more than noise from the bottom up, the alarms and outcry from all quarters won’t be enough. Over the last 15 months opposition to militarism and war has not matched the breadth or militancy of other fronts of the anti-Trump resistance. This has to change, and it has to change now. For action ideas both immediate and long term and resource materials, here’s a partial list of groups and actions to connect with:

Win Without War

United for Peace and Justice

Peace Action

End the Wars at Home and Abroad – Spring 2018

US Labor Against the War

Women Cross DMZ

National Iranian American Council

US Campaign for Palestinian Rights

Historians for Peace and Democracy

Third World Resistance

Code Pink

Grassroots Global Justice

Foreign Policy in Focus

War Resisters League

Fellowship of Reconciliation