John Bolton reveals a serious threat to America

Summary: Since 9/11 our leaders have become increasingly militant, urging America to attack an even invade an ever-growing list of nations for flimsy or imaginary reasons. We’re powerful but not omnipotent. War is a game that cannot be played forever with painful consequences. Eventually we’ll attack someone (a nation or group) who either retaliates irrationally but severely, or we’ll spark growth of a coalition of nations determined to restrain our military adventures. Our leaders work to make such disasters happen. A little bad luck and they will get their way.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}


An op-ed in today’s New York Times shows what might be the greatest threat to America: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran” by John R. Bolton. It’s another volley in the well-funded multi-decade propaganda campaign to involve America in an endless series of foreign wars, a program that no series of failures and revealed lies can derail. Let’s review the high points.

… the president’s own director of National Intelligence testified in 2014 that they had not stopped Iran’s progressing its nuclear program. There is now widespread acknowledgment that the rosy 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which judged that Iran’s weapons program was halted in 2003, was an embarrassment, little more than wishful thinking. Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident.

Bolton’s acknowledgement that there is no proof is the only fact in this essay. He offers no evidence of the “widespread acknowledgement” about the 2007 NIE. Bolton’s statement about Clapper’s testimony is incorrect since he does not say that Iran has a “nuclear weapons program”, let alone that it’s “progressing” (international agreements allow Iran — like other nations — to have a civilian nuclear program). Clapper said:

Iran war drums

We continue to assess that Iran’s overarching strategic goals of enhancing its security, prestige, and regional influence have led it to pursue capabilities to meet its civilian goals and give it the ability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so. … we judge that Iran is trying to balance conflicting objectives. It wants to improve its nuclear and missile capabilities while avoiding severe repercussions — such as a military strike or regime-threatening sanctions. We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.

Tehran has made technical progress in a number of areas — including uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors, and ballistic missiles — from which it could draw if it decided to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons. These technical advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so.

Bolton then doubles down with outright deceit. He says that “the arms race has begun” and nations “are moving forward” — but cites no evidence. Instead he says the Saudi Princes have “capabilities”, and speculates about what might happen if Iran builds a bomb.

Now the arms race has begun: Neighboring countries are moving forward, driven by fears that Mr. Obama’s diplomacy is fostering a nuclear Iran. Saudi Arabia, keystone of the oil-producing monarchies, has long been expected to move first. No way would the Sunni Saudis allow the Shiite Persians to outpace them in the quest for dominance within Islam and Middle Eastern geopolitical hegemony. Because of reports of early Saudi funding, analysts have long believed that Saudi Arabia has an option to obtain nuclear weapons from Pakistan, allowing it to become a nuclear-weapons state overnight. Egypt and Turkey, both with imperial legacies and modern aspirations, and similarly distrustful of Tehran, would be right behind.

… Saudi, Egyptian and Turkish interests are complex and conflicting, but faced with Iran’s threat, all have concluded that nuclear weapons are essential. … The former Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal, said recently, “whatever comes out of these talks, we will want the same.” He added, “if Iran has the ability to enrich uranium to whatever level, it’s not just Saudi Arabia that’s going to ask for that.”

That last statement is especially deceitful. Everybody has the right to enrichment for civilian purposes, and Iran’s known capabilities are consistent with those goals. Even Israeli officials have often said that there is little evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, as in this from January 2012 reported by Haartz: ‘The intelligence assessment Israeli officials will present later this week to Dempsey {Chairman, Joint Chiefs} indicates that Iran has not yet decided whether to make a nuclear bomb.” There are reports of this interview with Defense Minister Ehud Barak  that he explicitly stated that Iran nuclear weapons program was not running.

No country has developed a nuclear weapon while under the UN inspection regime. Kicking out the UN inspectors would cross a clear red line, justifying action. Plus these claims that Iran will have the bomb in a few years have been made frequently — always falsely — during the past 30 years. He relies on our amnesia and ignorance to conceal the absurdity of his claims.

Bolton then continues by confidently making things up — for which he cites not a shred of evidence — then concludes that only war will suffice:

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.

The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.

Update: The Intercept makes a great catch! Bolton cites as a successful example Israel’s atttack on the Iraq’s reactor halted Saddam’s nuclear weapons program. In fact that evidence shows that the reactor was in fact for civilian use only, not configured to produce weapons-grade material. Better yet, the link Bolton goes to a Washington Post article explaining this in detail: “An Israeli attack against Iran would backfire — just like Israel’s 1981 strike on Iraq“.

There are many such voices, well-funded and loud

War with Iran is probably our best option“, Joshua Murachik (fellow at John Hopkins), op-ed in the Washington Post, 13 March 2015 — Closing paragraph:

Yes, there are risks to military action. But Iran’s nuclear program and vaunting ambitions have made the world a more dangerous place. Its achievement of a bomb would magnify that danger manyfold. Alas, sanctions and deals will not prevent this.

This is quite delusional. The “vaunting ambitions” in the US are those of the US, which has invaded and occupied two nations, seeks to overthrow the government of 2 more, and has established a chair of powerful military bases throughout the region. Iran’s efforts to expand its influence — largely to survive against the unrelenting US pressure since the 1979 revolution — are small by comparison.

War is Peace

An extreme scenario

Thirty years ago (when the first stories of Iran’s nukes appeared) the great science fiction writer David Gerrold published his series about the invasion of the Chtorr (still unfinished, 4 books out, the first 2 are excellent). In its back-story the US nuked another nation, sparking a global alliance against us as a dangerous rogue hegemon. Something similar almost happens in Tom Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears.

I can imagine this happening — either we nuke someone or inflict equivalent damage through convention bombing, as an our of control escalation in response to retaliation by a nation or non-state group. It would be another first for America, following our first use of nukes in war and first strike at Iran in an undeclared cyberwar, plus our many invasions of other nations.


It’s vital to realize the danger people like Bolton pose to America, as their well-funded programs push to militarize not just our foreign policy but our society. War is the among the most uncertain of human activities, and often the most costly. Starting wars wagers everything we have and everything we are. Repeatedly doing so fecklessly, with so little evidence, shows the irresponsibility of our national leaders, and the danger of allowing them to run America while we doze in front of our TVs.

America has power relative to the rest of the world of a degree seldom seen in history — combining size, economic and technological vitality, plus strong social cohesion — making us existentially vulnerable to only one danger: our recklessness and imprudence. These are foes that can destroy the most powerful of nations.

We have given the reins of America over to the 1% and their servants, finding the burden of self-government too heavy to bear. The Republic’s political machinery lies idle, as we increasingly neither volunteer money or time to make it run — or even vote. But America’s citizens retain full responsibility for its actions, and will justly suffer from its fall.

“Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”
— attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson.

As we become an increasingly militant nation, we need a more appropriate god:

"Mars, god of war" by GhostsAnd Decay at DeviantArt
“Mars, god of war” by GhostsAnd Decay at DeviantArt

A warning from Homer:  In the Iliad Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, meets Ares (Mars) twice on the battlefield. She kicked his butt both times.

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Click here to see all posts about the US-Israel war with Iran. Of special relevance are these posts about Iran’s nukes (history shows that so much of what we are told is false):

  1. Iran will have the bomb in 5 years (again) — Forecasts of an Iranian bomb really soon, going back to 1984.
  2. What do we know about Iran’s nuclear ambitions? — US intelligence officials are clear:  we don’t know as much as the news media implies.
  3. What does the IAEA know about Iran’s nuclear program? — Their reports bear little resemblance to reports in the news media.
  4. What happens when a nation gets nukes? Sixty years of history gives an answer.
  5. What happens if Iran gets nukes? Not what we’ve been told.

Also see Is Iran dangerous, or a paper tiger? , Have Iran’s leaders vowed to destroy Israel? and Is Killing Iranian Nuclear Scientists Terrorism?

Today’s op-ed by Bolton was brought to you by the Department of Fear

Follow their great work on Twitter at @FearDept.

Department of Fear

18 thoughts on “John Bolton reveals a serious threat to America”

  1. Dot one, why do we believe the Iranians are suicidal? All the rest is propaganda by war mongers and their owners; war profiteers.

    1. Dessenter,

      That’s the great question! “Why do we believe? Yet we do. America is filled with people overflowing with anger at Iran, eager for war. This belligerence is a commonplace in history. Europe overflowed with lust for war in August 1914. With power comes great stupidity and desire to kick the ass of smaller guys.

  2. It’s good that Bolton’s challenged. There’s another aspect to this that you didn’t mention, except maybe by implication: By now, Bolton’s got a **very** solid, **very** well-documented history of serial lying. (Either that, or he’s the highest-functioning flaming lunatic in the world.) How many times have his hysterical warnings failed to pan out? How many times has his advice proven to be delusional (or deeply dishonest, take your pick).

    Yet the “newspaper of record” sees fit to give him prominent space on its pages. Just as, only a week or two ago, the WaPo gave the serial fabricator Muravchik space for **his** pitch for an unprovoked and deeply stupid war.

    Stunts like this are why I no longer subscribe or pay attention to American national media organs. Like Pravda, they’re only good for following what our owners think is important, or want us to believe. Actually, that’s not quite fair — the NYT and the WaPo and NPR and Fox do a **much** better job of covering celebrities than Izvestia ever did.

    1. Snake,

      It’s essential that these posts be kept focused and so of a length that gets a audience. At 1,370 words this was already too long by 1/3 or more.

      Your point is an important one, something I’ve discussed in depth in many posts. A people so accepting of lies and so easily fooled cannot govern themselves. Hence these posts in my series about paths to political reform for America:

      1. Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America.
      2. Remembering is the first step to learning. Living in the now is ignorance.
      3. Swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America.
    2. Snake: “Bolton’s got a **very** solid, **very** well-documented history of serial lying. (Either that, or he’s the highest-functioning flaming lunatic in the world.) ”

      Can I vote for both? A third possibility is that he is one of the stupidest to ever enter government service but that seems pretty unlikely when you consider how fast he climbed the government ladder.

      1. Pluto,

        “A third possibility is that he is one of the stupidest”

        I agree with your response (“it’s unlikely”). I am amazed at how often we look at these fantastically successful people and say they’re stupid. Warmongers, generals, bankers, politicians. They’re working our system successfully. Their success shows that if anyone is stupid, it’s us.

  3. The length limit is news to me. Brevity’s good, but do you think length determines your audience size? Do you have some kind of stats about that? I’ve been thinking the web’s actually led to a revival of the medium- to longer-length (5000-10,000 words?) essay. Though the net does seem to getting more like television every year, sadly….

    1. Snake,

      This website takes an immense amount of work to run, and I closely track traffic — the key variable. With 3,064 posts since starting in 2007, I have a large sample size to see the trade-off of length vs traffic.

      Also, reading the 37 thousand comments has taught me that people don’t really read very long posts. They skim, at (I suspect) an accelerating rate as the post rolls on.

      There are long-form publications. The New Yorker, Medium etc. I don’t know how they operate. The really big websites by individuals (not corps) — such as Instapundit, Eschaton — tend to post mostly sound bites. They provide tribal identity, snapshots of things to boo and cheer. It’s a good business, but not mine.

  4. Nuclear threats aside, do we not have to oppose those countries and groups that fail to support or make threats against Israel?

    1. Um, did you REALLY just say that we have to oppose groups that fail to support Israel? Nearly all groups in the world fail to actively support Israel. Should the US government oppose the Girl Scouts for their lack of clarity on supporting Israel?

      As for opposing groups that threaten Israel, I’m not sure on that either. Israel is the premier military power in that part of the Middle East and seems quite capable of defending itself or retaliating against all would-be attackers.

      A more logical suggestion for Israel is to persuade (via diplomacy and soft power) its opponents that attacking it is not in their best interests. It takes a long time and a lot of work but is worth every bit of the effort as the world’s survival of the Cold War demonstrates.

      But this is NOT something the US can do for Israel, Israel must take the initiative and be seen by the rest of the world as a better neighbor. The key lesson of 4th generation warfare is that controlling your image is a key to victory and that is not something Israel is good at.

    2. Gloucon,

      “do we not have to oppose those countries and groups that fail to support or make threats against Israel?”

      That’s absurd on many levels.

      First, our interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria were not in defense of Israel. Iraq was a quiet ally of Israel. Afghanistan was uninvolved. All sides in Yemen and Syria hate Israel. So assuming our policy against Iran is based on its opposition to Israel seems specious.

      Second, perhaps if Israel were to stop expanding, and treat its Palestinian “citizens” as equals, then so many nations might no oppose Israel. It’s become the new South Africa. Opposition is inevitable. Why are we helping it?

      Third, as Pluto notes, Israel is the dominant military power in the region. It’s hardly at risk today from its neighbors.

  5. we need some justice today and Israel could live in a very peacful way with palestinian and its neighbors it is easy but the governments runners wont make it thzt simple and only the nations pay for their decisions .

    1. Said,

      I agree, but suspect we might have a language problem with “only the nations pay for their decisions”. “Nation” is just an abstract term for people. Dynamics in the Middle East might produce bad times for its people — Jews, Palestinians, and others — and perhaps for Americans as well.

  6. Well, I’m just trying to understand why people like John Bolton, Sheldon Adelson, and Benjamin Netanyahu want us to bomb Iran. Israel has labeled Iran a threat to them, have they not?

    1. Gloucon,

      Why is the most difficult of questions.

      Some Israeli officials (not all) want us to attack Iran. We can only guess why, as their assertions during the past 30 years about this have proven largely false. They lied about Iran’s threats to destroy Israel; they either lied or were mistaken about Iran getting the bomb in a few years (a claim repeated since 1984).

      Why do the neocons want war with Iran, especially since there is little evidence that Iran poses a threat to Israel (although Israel has begun a war with Iran, one that has slowly intensified over the years)? Perhaps. An alternative is that attacking Iran is another step in the neocons’ program to dominate the Middle East. Iran is the only large power hostile to America after the destruction of Iraq.

      My guess is that the plan to attack Iran results from an alliance of the Israel and American hardliners, creating a new Middle East in which America and Israel dominate the region. Such things are a commonplace of history.

  7. “Iran is the only large power hostile to America after the destruction of Iraq.”

    If that’s true, then why not attack them?

    1. Gloucon,

      You and you family are welcome to go. It is quite mad to attack all nations hostile to you, plus a violation of international laws going back to medieval times. Evil, even.

      Perhaps you could content yourself with attending NAZI rallies. You’ll find many like-minded people there.

      On the other hand, you might be a troll.

  8. Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you are saying. Are you saying that Iran has an official policy permanent irreconcilable hostility towards the US irrespective of any current issue? Are you saying they want to destroy us? Is it not a basic principle of defense to prepare to attack a country that is hostile towards you? Bush used this principle concerning Iraq in 2003, although he went beyond preparation and attacked. All Bolton is asking is that we continue to follow the Bush doctrine, which to my knowledge has never been officially abandoned. The president and congress could very well pass a draft and send members of my family into an army of invasion of Iran. There would be very little we could do other than go to prison or flee the country.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: