"You ran against Iran. And if you want to hire me, that's what I'm going to produce for you."
That is what newly appointed national security adviser John Bolton reportedly told President Donald Trump as he was being considered to replace H.R. McMaster in the White House's most influential foreign policy position—a remark that appears to confirm the worst fears of foreign policy experts, who argued after Bolton was officially selected Thursday night that Trump "may have just effectively declared war on Iran."
People, let this be very clear: The appointment of Bolton is essentially a declaration of war with Iran.— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) March 22, 2018
With Pompeo and Bolton, Trump is assembling a WAR CABINET.
If we want peace, Pompeo MUST be blocked in the Senate. A vote for him is a vote for war. https://t.co/6TF2pdhJAG
Bolton, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, has not been silent about his desire for America to attack Iran, a country he has asserted is partially responsible for the 9/11 attacks—adopting a fringe conspiracy theory without a shred of supporting evidence.
"Bolton's first order of business will be to convince Trump to exit the Iran nuclear deal and lay the groundwork for the war he has urged over the past decade."
—Trita Parsi, National Iranian American Council
"To Stop Iran's Bomb, Bomb Iran," reads the headline of Bolton's 2015 New York Times op-ed arguing the diplomacy that ultimately produced the Iran nuclear accord was misguided, and that military action was the only way to prevent the country from developing a nuclear weapon.
Bolton has repeated this call for war in countless columns in right-wing outlets and during frequent segments on FOX News, where he has appeared as a commentator for more than a decade.
In response to his appointment as Trump's top foreign policy adviser on Thursday, Jamal Abdi—executive director of National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Action—highlighted a National Review article Bolton penned in August of last year, in which he outlined several steps the president can take to "get out of the Iran deal."
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Remember, here's what John Bolton advised Trump to do on Iran as a first step: pic.twitter.com/BoislQi025— Jamal Abdi (@jabdi) March 22, 2018
With the deadline for Trump to certify the accord just over a month away, analysts are concerned that Bolton's first move as national security adviser may be to convince Trump to "follow through on his instincts" and rip the Iran deal to shreds—a move NIAC president Trita Parsi said would place the U.S. and Iran on the path to war.
"Bolton's first order of business will be to convince Trump to exit the Iran nuclear deal and lay the groundwork for the war he has urged over the past decade," Parsi warned in a statement on Thursday. "The Iranian-American community and our pro-peace, pro-human rights allies will organize to stop Bolton's plans from becoming a reality."
In an article on Friday reacting to Bolton's appointment, author and Middle East expert Juan Cole said simply calling him a foreign policy "hawk," does not do justice to the "war criminal" that Bolton actually is.
For fervently backing a still ongoing war in Iraq that by some estimates has resulted in over a million deaths, argued Cole, Bolton shouldn't even "be allowed on television."
"In a just world, Bolton would be on trial at the Hague for war crimes," Cole concludes. "Instead, he has been promoted into a position to do to Iran what he did to Iraq."