Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019 August 2019 September 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Bolton's departure is good news for the planet. One less nut to worry about.

by digby

My Salon column this morning:

When John Bolton was named as Donald Trump's national security adviser I was as stunned as anyone. After all, he's well known as a man who wants to blow up the world while Trump is a man who thinks he can bring world peace by offering condo development deals to dictators and terrorists. They didn't seem like a good match. I did, however, think they might find a meeting of the minds under certain circumstances. After all, if a war were to happen, they share a similar philosophy about how it should be fought:
Trump’s words, both in public and private, describe a view that wars should be brutal and swift, waged with overwhelming firepower and, in some cases, with little regard for civilian casualties. Victory over America’s enemies for the president is often a matter of bombing “the s--- out of them,” as he said on the campaign trail.
Neither Trump or Bolton have any use for nation-building and both are contemptuous of America's allies as well. But other than a shared love for brutality they really didn't have anything in common. If Trump didn't hire people just because they're on Fox News, he would have known that an egomaniacal super-hawk with a taste for fierce bureaucratic infighting wouldn't mesh with his own belief that he can con anyone into doing his bidding by the sheer force of his personality.

Yesterday, Trump tweeted that he'd fired Bolton, and Bolton immediately fired back that he'd offered his resignation. Since Trump is the more notorious liar, I'm going to assume Bolton is telling the truth. From the sound of it, Bolton's going to make a whole lot of money on a book, probably set to come out right before the election. Trump may regret not keeping him in the fold.

This has been a long time coming, with Bolton clashing with everyone else in the administration and being publicly humiliated at every turn. But the precipitating event seems to have been last weekend's Camp David debacle in which Bolton adamantly opposed Trump's plan to bring Taliban leaders to the U.S. a few days before the 9/11 anniversary. He wasn't the only one, of course. It was a daft idea. But he seems to have been the one who spoke up and became the fall guy for that embarrassment.

Bolton never accepted that Trump doesn't have a geopolitical view or a foreign policy philosophy. He just wants to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately, he's convinced he can do it simply by holding a photo op.

Never Trumper David Frum described the dynamic on MSNBC:

This is a story about fantasy and envy. The president's fantasy about being a great deal-maker and his envy of President Obama's peace prize. Zalmay Khalilzad, our former ambassador to Afghanistan, was running a process of negotiation with the Taliban to see if an agreement could be reached. About the first of September, he seems to have reached some kind of interim deal. What should have happened at that point [is] it goes into the government and different agencies look at it and say, "Do we like it, can we look at it, do we go forward, do we stop?" Trump got the smell of this and thought, "This is a done deal, Zalmay is going to get the credit, he's going to get the Nobel Peace Prize."

Frum added that Trump "wanted to be Jimmy Carter without the work."

Everything about that had to make Bolton crazy. Nothing could be more antithetical to his hawkish views than making peace in the first place, let alone doing so out of shallow self-interest. One assumes he didn't hold back his dismay. So his time was up.

Bolton had been working at cross purposes with Trump and the rest of the administration from the beginning. His legacy will be a bunch of failed initiatives and bad judgment. Most impressive of those failures was on Venezuela, the one policy he managed to persuade Trump to undertake. He was the main mover behind the campaign to push out President Nicolás Maduro and back opposition leader Juan Guaidó by imposing sanctions on the country under the assumption that Maduro would go quickly. That didn't happen and Trump lost interest, seeing yet another opportunity to be a hero go down the drain.

As a long-time North Korea hawk who had been instrumental in George W. Bush's failed policy and who had openly advocated bombing the country for years, Bolton had been pushing the administration to get tough with Kim Jong-un. Trump, of course, believes that his supposed friendship with the North Korean leader will persuade the dictator to give up his nuclear weapons. North Korea is a problem from hell, but any day that Kim hasn't launched one of his nukes is a good day. So Trump's delusions are at least buying time until someone who knows what he or she is doing can take over.

And then there's Iran, Bolton's great white whale. He has been agitating for war with Iran for decades now, and every time he seems to get close it slides out of his grasp. During the Bush years the plans were at the ready but even that administration, burned badly in Iraq, didn't pull the trigger. Watching from the wilderness during the Obama administration, Bolton no doubt felt deeply frustrated by the nuclear deal and undoubtedly felt that if nothing else, as national security adviser he would be able to get Trump to make his longed-for regime change happen. Trump was an Iran hawk too, after all.

Once again, Bolton misunderstood what Trump was after. The president knows nothing about Iran or the Middle East. He withdrew from the nuclear deal not because he wanted to go to war but because he wanted to make his own deal and have a big ceremony announcing that he can make better deals than Obama.

The results of all this have been disastrous. American foreign policy is failing everywhere in the world. From Trump's reckless trade war with China to North Korea (which tested more missiles this week) to Iran, Afghanistan and everywhere else it's a mess. But John Bolton was the one person in Trump's orbit who has consistently tried to get him to go to war.

Trump wants to economically dominate other countries, backed up by military force. He wants to be hailed as a great hero and dealmaker who solved intractable problems with his personal acumen and charm. He is incapable of doing any of that, of course. But at least with Bolton gone, we don't have to fear that one day the president will wake up and realize he's failed on all those counts with the nation's most aggressive über-hawk whispering in his ear that he can get what he wants by using overwhelming military force. In the Trump era, that's about the best we can hope for.