John Bolton Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Arm The Bomb:President Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, has long advocated for US military strikes against Iran. Last year at Bolton’s direction the National Security Council asked the Pentagon to provide military options to strike Tehran after militants fired three mortars into an empty lot on the grounds of the US Embassy in Baghdad in September. Then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis provided some general options, but adamantly opposed retaliation since the attack was insignificant. H. R. McMaster, national security adviser at the time, concurred with the presumption that such a strike could cause armed conflict and prompt Iran to order the US to leave the country. However, since the hawkish Bolton succeeded McMaster in April 2018, he has intensified the administration’s policy of isolating and pressuring Iran. And unlike his predecessor, Bolton does not want to hear opposing views and wants to control all information that flows to the president. Such censorship results in little consideration being given to options and furthers the risk of armed escalation, something that worries Pentagon officials most.
Bolton had been successful in persuading the president to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal; recently, however, he has stumbled in some efforts. When Bolton traveled to Turkey to present a list of conditions for US troop withdrawal from Syria, including a pledge by Turks not to attack America’s Kurdish allies in Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected the demand and refused to meet with him. But in a speech last week at the American University in Cairo, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo backed up Bolton’s hard line position, saying “countries increasingly understand we must confront the ayatollahs, not coddle them”, and on Sunday, Trump declared via Twitter that the US would “devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds.”
How the US military might be feeling about the Middle East right now:
Additional reads: “Iran Is Preparing A Launch. But Is It For A Space Rocket Or A Missile?” (NPR)
Iranian Sanctions: President Trump’s sanctions against Iran are hurting its economy a lot. In a speech on Wednesday Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei admitted the sanctions were putting unprecedented pressure on the country and the people. (Reuters)