The Washington Times has picked up on some gossip on what a Romney presidential cabinet would look like. Guess who for secretary of state?
John R. Bolton, the U.N. ambassador during the George W. Bush administration and specialist on arms control and security issues, is said to be a leading candidate for secretary of state.
As if Mitt’s own musings about not needing the consent of Congress to go to war weren’t enough of a hint that a Romney presidency would mean bombing Iran, he floats John Bolton as secretary of state. This is the UN Ambassador under George W. Bush, noted for his bad temper and aggressively hawkish foreign policy views. Earlier this year, he said in an interview on Fox News that economic sanctions on Iran and assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists are “half-measures” and that bombing Iran is a better option.
“Half-measures like assassinations or sanctions are only going to produce the crisis more quickly,” Bolton said. “The better way to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons is to attack its nuclear weapons program directly.” Of course, extrajudicial killings of civilian scientists, harsh economic warfare, threats to bomb, and actual bombing are all things that will encourage Iran to develop weapons (which, Bolton always forgets to mention, Iran is not currently doing). An aggressive war on Iran would be an order of magnitude worse than an Iranian nuclear weapon.
A few months ago, an article in Foreign Policy revealed that Israel had recently supplied Azerbaijan with a $1.6 billion arms deal including “sophisticated drones and missile defense systems” and has also, US officials suspected, secured access to airfields which could be essential to Israeli fighter jets flying bombing missions over Iran. At the time, Bolton alleged that the Obama administration leaked that information to sabotage Israel’s plans to attack Iran, which signals how enthusiastic the green light for a preventive (i.e. unprovoked, discretionary) Israeli attack on Iran would be.
“I think this leak today is part of the administration’s campaign against an Israeli attack,” Bolton claimed on Fox News. Astoundingly, he added, “I think the pressure that the administration has put on Israel has been just merciless, behind the scenes.”
In reality, the charge is absurd. As Jacob Heilbrunn at the National Interest wrote, Obama’s staunch support of Israel is never enough for his ideological neoconservative detractors. Heilbrunn: ”He condemned the Palestinian drive for statehood at the United Nations. Not enough. He awarded Israel $3 billion in military assistance, an all-time high. Not enough. He repeatedly avowed his commitment to Israel’s security and well-being. Still not enough.”
Romney, for his part, can at least be said to be playing politics and trying to sound tougher on foreign policy in order to attract Republican votes. But surrounding himself with people like Bolton, who sincerely harbor such dangerous and irrational foreign policy views without a political script, indicates a Romney presidency would be considerably more reckless and pro-war.