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Harley Schlanger

Vice President of the Schiller Institute USA, National Spokesman for Lyndon LaRouche

The firing of National Security Adviser John Bolton by President Trump on September 10 should have surprised no one. What is surprising about Bolton’s premature departure is the coalescence of Republicans and Democrats that has since rallied to his defense. Such an outpouring demonstrates bi-partisan support for continuing war and regime change operations. It also makes clear the obstacles Trump has faced thus far in his efforts to change U.S. strategic policy from business-as-usual geopolitical provocations and war, to peaceful cooperation, especially with Russia and China. Unfortunately, it is easier to get rid of Bolton than the dangerous groupthink mentality towards foreign policy that dominates the United States Congress.

The firing of National Security Adviser John Bolton by President Trump on September 10 should have surprised no one. Bolton had acted, repeatedly, to undermine some of Trump's major initiatives, and had, in several instances, acted as though he were the President. Several "triggers" for the decision have been identified: Bolton's assurance to Trump that Maduro would be ousted in a coup, which failed; his open push for regime change in Iran; his opposition to Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the Middle East, including the recent overtures to end the war in Afghanistan; his contempt for improving relations with Russia and China.

Trump himself spoke of several of these instances, summarizing his decision by saying that Bolton "made some very big mistakes," and that he "wasn't in line with what we're doing." Most significant was what he said about North Korea, that it was a "very big mistake" for Bolton to threaten Kim Jong-un and his people with references to the "Libyan model." This threat ultimately provoked the breakdown of the second Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi.

Bolton, as one of the architects of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), the neocon gang of unilateralists that pushed for the Iraq war, never met a regime change operation he couldn't support. He is the classic "Ugly American", who believes we should "shoot first, then build a democracy" -- of course, in the recent wars he favored, we are still shooting and killing, and "nation building" has been a special graft program for consultants and contractors of the Military Industrial Complex.

It is not surprising that many Republican neocons are lamenting his abrupt exit. Senator Marco Rubio, a point-man for the anti-Russia, anti-China Congressional lobby, called himself "a big fan of John Bolton", adding that, "in my view, he did a good job." Senator Mitt Romney described his departure as a "huge loss," while the (Wall Street Journal) declared that now, "we are less safe."

But perhaps more telling of the sorry state of affairs in Congress is the show of support for Bolton from Democrats. Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer used Bolton’s departure to opportunistically attack Trump, saying this is "just the latest example of his government-by-chaos approach, and his rudderless national security policy." Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut bemoaned that, with Bolton's removal, "our foreign policy infrastructure falls apart," threatening "our national security," while Sen. Cardin from Maryland described Bolton as a "straight shooter", adding "it's unfortunate if the president won't accept professional advice."

Such an outpouring demonstrates bi-partisan support for continuing war and regime change operations. It also makes clear the obstacles Trump has faced thus far in his efforts to change U.S. strategic policy from business-as-usual geopolitical provocations and war, to peaceful cooperation, especially with Russia and China. Unfortunately, it is easier to get rid of Bolton than the majority of U.S. Senators.


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