The New York Times reports that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is resigning, and his replacement is going to be John Bolton, one of the very worst people from the administration of George W. Bush. The Iran deal is, in all likelihood, toast.
From the Times:
General McMaster will retire from the military, the officials said. He has been discussing his departure with President Trump for several weeks, they said, but decided to speed up his departure, in part because questions about his status were casting a shadow over his conversations with foreign officials.
General McMaster’s serious, somber style and preference for order made him an uncomfortable fit with a president whose style is looser, and who has little patience for the detail and nuance of complex national security issues. They had differed on policy, with General McMaster cautioning against ripping up the nuclear deal with Iran without a strategy for what would come next, and tangling with Mr. Trump over the strategy for American forces in Afghanistan.
Mr. Bolton, who will take office April 9, has met regularly with Mr. Trump to discuss foreign policy, and was on a list of candidates for national security adviser. He was in the West Wing with Mr. Trump to discuss the job on Thursday.
Bolton, who once said that there was “no such thing as the United Nations,” is the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations for George W. Bush. Before that, he was one of eighteen signatories, along with future Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Iraq reconstruction genius Paul Wolfowitz, to a 1998 letter from the neocon think tank Project for a New American Century to Bill Clinton advocating for America starting a unilateral war with Iraq to stop Saddam Hussein from building “weapons of mass destruction.” Sound familiar?
Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.
We urge you to articulate this aim, and to turn your Administration’s attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power. This will require a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts. Although we are fully aware of the dangers and difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the dangers of failing to do so are far greater. We believe the U.S. has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf. In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.
Ten of those eighteen signatories, including Bolton, later joined the Bush administration.
In recent years, Bolton has been a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a Fox News commentator, where he’s been a vocal opponent of the Iran deal, which makes sense considering the culmination of his life’s work would be a war between the United States and Iran.
Here’s Bolton in 2015 in the op-ed pages of the New York Times (thanks for that, by the way), arguing for a strike to stop Iran’s nuclear program, while the Obama administration was negotiating the deal and a week before its framework was announced:
The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.