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John Bolton

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John Bolton's war face
The critical oil and natural gas producing region that we fought so many wars to try and protect our economy from the adverse impact of losing that supply or having it available only at very high prices.
—John Bolton during an interview with Fox News[1]
The white man's burden
Icon imperialism.svg
The empires strike back
Veni, vidi, vici

John Robert "Bomb Iran" Bolton II (1948–) is the former National Security Adviser of the United States and former US Ambassador to the United Nations, among many other dreadful titles.[2] He is also a huge wingnut, whose foreign policy is best described as Jeane Kirkpatrick on steroids.[3] He is "the hawk's hawk". Bolton is one of the most vocal advocates for war with Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, and any other "rogue states".[4][5][note 1] He has been known to sabotage peace talks to "prove" peace doesn't work. Bolton was a supporter of the Vietnam War, but conveniently avoided going overseas by getting a student deferment followed by enlistment in the National Guard (much in common with his later boss Dubya) and later the Army Reserve.[6] Thus making him worthy of the chickenhawk title. He was also an early supporter of the Iraq War, and two decades later, had no regrets.

He has worked, in some capacity, in every Republican administration since the Reagan era — he was an Assistant Attorney General for Ronnie himself, he was an Assistant Secretary of State for Bush the elder, and Ambassador to the UN under his inept son. The last was the most controversial of those three — the Democrats actually filibustered it.[7] Perhaps worse, however, was his (March 2018 to September 2019) tenure as a National Security Adviser under Donald Trump.[8][9] Like most unelected functionaries GOP presidents treat like hand-me-downs, he is a neoconservative. Despite usually being labeled a neocon, he dislikes being called one.[10] He was formerly a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and contributed several articles for them.[11][2]

Unsurprisingly, despite supporting the Vietnam War,[12] he joined the National Guards specifically to make sure he didn't have to serve.[13]

Countries he'd like to bomb[edit]

If you see him adjusting his glasses for the cameras, that's him showing off his Yale University class ring. He's very proud of it.[14][15]


Bolton was an ardent supporter of the illegal[16] war in Iraq, even being dubbed one of its architects.[17] He has stated that despite the failures of the Iraq War, he’d repeat it again too.[18]

The instability following the invasion of Iraq is also notable for directly enabling the rise of DAESH as a result of the power vacuum left in the wake of the collapse of the Ba'athist regime.[19] Within weeks of the invasion American troops went from being seen as "heroic liberators" to "brutal occupiers."[19] The US, in a prime display of incompetence, also disbanded the Iraqi Army. That left uncountable numbers of angry, unemployed men with military training just waiting for a chance to strike back at the Americans and their perceived puppet regime. DAESH was all too willing to seize the opportunity that the US had stupidly created for them.[19] Many of DAESH's top commanders were identified as senior military officers in Saddam Hussein's Iraqi Army.[19]

The US military also detained tens of thousands at Camp Bucca in Southern Iraq, many of whom were noncombatants.[19] This created an atmosphere of resentment among the inmates that was a keen environment for radicalization and recruitment, as well as a space to plan attacks and coordinate and establish insurgent infrastructure right under the American noses.[19] Notable among the inmates was a certain Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who established himself as a leading figure among the newly radicalized detainees.[19]


Much like with Iraq, Bolton sees invading Syria as a good move for American foreign policy and influence. However, ironically enough, his decision to shift the foreign policy of the administration from the internal debates of the entire staff towards whatever Donald Trump wanted likely ended up being the reason Trump withdrew from Syria in 2019.[20]


The Bush Administration had to specifically keep Bolton out of the loop regarding their deal with Muammar Gaddafi in order to actually make sure said deal went through, primarily due to Bolton's opposition to such a deal.[21] Unsurprisingly, he was a firm supporter of the NATO bombing campaign against Libya in 2011.[22]


The only thing that will stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons is regime change in Tehran.
—Bolton after a 2009 vote by the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Tehran for its nuclear program.[23]

Bolton has had "[the] anal focus on Iran for twenty years," said H.R. McMaster.[24]

Bolton has repeatedly called for a regime change in Iran, going as far as to give a speech regarding this subject to young Iranians at a conference in Paris.[25] He has constantly claimed that every action from the Iranian government is an act of terrorism, despite embodying that himself by calling for assassinating Iranian leaders and toppling the government. While working for Donald Trump, he was one of three forces that stopped the President from opening up diplomatic relations with Iran.[26]

In 2004, Bolton claimed while testifying to Congress that Iran had a greater amount of enriched uranium than they were claiming--which the IAEA was unable to get any evidence to support.[27]

War games conducted in 2002 showed Iran decisively beating America in combat, meaning that, according to the simulation conducted by the Pentagon in 2002, war with Iran is not only costly, but a losing proposition.[28] To quote National Interest:

It was designed by the Joint Forces Command over the course of two years. It had 13,500 participants, numerous live and simulated training sites, and was supposed to pit an Iran-like Middle Eastern country against the U.S. military, which would be fielding advanced technology it didn't plan to implement until five years later.

The war game would begin with a forced-entry exercise that included the 82nd Airborne and the 1st Marine Division. When the blue forces issued a surrender ultimatum, Van Riper, commanding the red forces, turned them down. Since the Bush Doctrine of the period included preemptive strikes against perceived enemies, Van Riper knew the blue forces would be coming for him. And they did.

But the three-star general didn't spend 41 years in the Marine Corps by being timid. As soon as the Navy was beyond the point of no return, he hit them and hit them hard. Missiles from land-based units, civilian boats, and low-flying planes tore through the fleet as explosive-ladened speedboats decimated the Navy using suicide tactics. His code to initiate the attack was a coded message sent from the minarets of mosques at the call to prayer.

In less than 10 minutes, the whole thing was over and Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper was victorious.[28]

Micah Zenko, writing a piece for War on the Rocks in 2015, explained why this was so shocking:

The impact of the [opposing force’s] ability to render a U.S. carrier battle group — the centerpiece of the U.S. Navy — militarily worthless stunned most of the MC ’02 participants.[29]

The shock of this compelled the exercise planners to rig the results for the US for the rest of the simulation.[28] Perhaps we should listen to the actual experts on this, and not a hawkish coward with a track-record of advocating for disastrous military interventions.

DAESH has also launched a number of attacks in Iran over the years, and have a strong presence just over the border in Afghanistan.[30] DAESH and a litany of other militant groups dissatisfied with the reign of the Khomeinist regime are just waiting for the Ayatollahs to fall. If there is one sound argument against invading Iran, this is it.

Iran is also an "industrial autarky" that produces more steel than any EU member state besides Germany. In addition to that, Iran "has the capacity to feed itself, enjoys an abundance of fossil fuels (whose sale, as with Russia, has blunted the effectiveness of US sanctions), and has an impressive military-industrial complex."[31] Iran also is a nation with 90 million people and is the "size of Germany, France, and Ukraine combined."[31]

Due to the potential refugee crisis caused by any hypothetical "Iran War," a war with Iran would be an unmitigated disaster for Europe.[31] Syria has produced 6.8 million refugees[32] out of a pre-war population of 22 million.[33] How many refugees would be generated by a conflict in a country with 90 million people?

North Korea[edit]

Bolton spoke positively of engaging in a pre-emptive strike against North Korea in 2018.[34] Any potential war with North Korea could result in potentially hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of casualties. North Korea has artillery entrenched deep into their country that points directly at Seoul, the capital of South Korea, that while unlikely to "flatten" Seoul, could still cause massive collateral damage to the city.[35] North Korea is also a nuclear power; possessing, according to the Council for Foreign Relations, enough material to make 100 nuclear bombs and has already engaged in several successful launches of nuclear rocketry.[36] North Korea is also suspected to possess weapons of mass destruction unrelated to its nuclear status, including both chemical and biological weapons.[36]

From a purely military standpoint, war with North Korea would again be a both costly and disastrous endeavor. This is ignoring any potential humanitarian pitfalls of war with the North Korean regime, of which there are many. Given that Bolton openly and unashamedly advocates for such a stupid policy position, it's downright frightening that this guy has been in the highest levels of government since the Reagan era.

Morever, Bolton brags about participating to the collapse of the Agreed Framework. The Agreed Framework successfully controlled the North Korean nuclear program. When a separate enriched uranium program was discovered, instead of using it for further leverage, Bolton pushed for the collapse of the agreement in 2003 (“This was the hammer I had been looking for to shatter the Agreed Framework”), causing North Korea to leave the NPT and, three years later, to test its first nuclear weapons.[37][38]


Bolton has claimed that Cuba has a secret biological weapons program and has worked with both Iran and Libya, both of which the State Department were forced to deny.[39]


During the 2019 political instability in Venezuela and Bolton's tenure in the Trump administration, he "accidentally" flashed a notepad "the wrong way" so the media could snap photos of what it said: "5,000 troops to Colombia".[40] This was a microcosm of a wider strategy Bolton seemingly deployed throughout his role in the Trump presidency: make the media think the administration's position was much more hawkish than it was to bait the press into confronting Trump himself about whatever Bolton said the day before — gambling that this might pigeonhole Trump into defending Bolton's own position. Luckily, this sneaky gambit rarely seems to have actually worked, and no troops were ever deployed to Colombia. Trump sort-of caught on to the way that Bolton was contradicting him on many issues, which contributed to his removal as an advisor.[41]

Institutions he'd like to bomb[edit]

United Nations[edit]

Despite having been the US ambassador to the United Nations, he infamously once claimed in 1994 that the UN "doesn't exist."[42] This was long before he conveniently became appointed as a politician within the UN.

International Criminal Court[edit]

Renouncing the Rome StatuteWikipedia of the International Criminal Court was the happiest moment of my government service.

Bolton has also heavily criticized the ICC, which is not surprising given his support of war crimes committed by the United States in the various foreign territories where they exerted themselves.

Biological Weapons Convention[edit]

In a 2001 biological weapons conference in Geneva convened to endorse a UN proposal to enforce the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, Bolton opposed it, fearing it would led to spot inspections of suspected U.S. weapons sites.[43]

European Union[edit]

Unsurprisingly for someone supporting the return to jungle's law in international relations, Bolton opposes the European Union and praised Brexit.[44]

Other highlights[edit]

  • While working for Ronald Reagan, he opposed giving financial reparations to Japanese-Americans who had been placed in the Internment Camps of the mid-1940s.[45]


  1. It doesn't need to be said that war with both Iran and North Korea would both be disastrous fuck-ups likely to be far worse than both Iraq and Afghanistan.


  1. "John Bolton Admits All Of These Wars Are For Oil". Youtube. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Revolving Door: John R. Bolton Employment Summary". OpenSecrets.
  3. Dexter Filkins (April 29, 2019). "John Bolton on the Warpath". The New Yorker.
  4. Julian Borger (May 17, 2019). "John Bolton: the man driving the US towards war ... any war". The Guardian.
  5. Julian Borger (March 23, 2018). "John Bolton: foreign policy radical who backs war with both Iran and North Korea". The Guardian.
  6. John Bolton § Vietnam WarWikipedia
  7. Douglas Jehl (May 27, 2005). "Democrats Force Senate to Delay a Vote on Bolton". The New York Times.
  8. Philip Elliott (March 23, 2018). "Donald Trump Just Hired John Bolton. Here's Why That Makes Some Nervous". Time.
  9. Jonathan Lemire, Zeke Miller, and Deb Riechmann (September 11, 2019). "What led up to Trump’s firing of John Bolton". PBS NewsHour.
  10. (May 24, 2007). "John Bolton: I am not a Neocon". Pen and Sword.
  11. "John R. Bolton". American Enterprise Institute.
  12. One Angry Man
  13. Never Shy, Bolton Brings a Zeal to the Table
  14. (February 1, 2020). "John Bolton is in a constant fight with his glasses". Reddit.
  15. Harry McCracken (January 31, 2020). "John Bolton adjusting his glasses in a 2005 newspaper." Twitter.
  16. Iraq War illegal, says then United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan - BBC. Published 16 September, 2004.
  17. John Bolton’s mustache is more qualified to be national security adviser than he is
  18. Trump Abandons His Anti-Iraq Campaign Stance And Hires A Key Warmonger
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 Blowback: ISIS was created by the US invasion of Iraq[a w] by The Intercept, '
  20. Bolton Walked Back Syria Statement. His Disdain for Debate Helped Produce It.
  21. Who “Won” Libya?
  22. Former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton Wants To Target Qaddafi For Assassination
  23. Former US Ambassador to UN Skeptical Over Latest Vote on Iran[a w]Voice of America News
  24. John Bolton on the Warpath
  25. Bringing in Bolton, White House appears to stiffen against Palestinians, Iran
  26. How Bolton, Netanyahu and Pompeo Sabotaged Trump’s Dream of Talks With Iran
  27. No Proof Found of Iran Arms Program
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 "Millennium Challenge: Iran Destroyed America In a War Game" - National Interest. Written by David Axe. Published December 1st, 2021.
  29. "MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE: THE REAL STORY OF A CORRUPTED MILITARY EXERCISE AND ITS LEGACY" - War on the Rocks. Written by Micah Zenko. Published Nov. 5th, 2015.
  30. The Islamic State Attacks the Islamic Republic[a w]The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Bastani, Aaron. "War with Iran would be a grave error". Unherd. 
  32. "Syrian Refugees and Other Vulnerable Populations Appeal". UNICEF. 
  33. "Syria’s drained population". The Economist. September 30, 2015. 
  34. John Bolton on: bombing Iran, North Korea, Russia and the Iraq War
  35. "Can North Korea Really "Flatten" Seoul?"
  36. 36.0 36.1 "What are North Korea's Military Capabilites?" - The Council for Foreign Relations
  37. Wit, Joel (January 22, 2019). "What I Learned Leading America's 1st Nuclear Inspection In North Korea". NPR. 
  38. "Three strikes means Bolton should be out" - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Published on March 30th, 2018. Written by Alexandra Bell and James McKeon.
  39. Bolton Assures Senators Of Commitment to U.N.
  40. Deirdre Shesgreen (January 28, 2019). "John Bolton's notes on '5,000 troops to Colombia' spark speculation about military intervention in Venezuela". USA Today.
  41. Nahal Toosi and Quint Forgey (September 10, 2019). "Trump ousts Bolton after anger over Afghan news coverage". Politico.
  42. 42.0 42.1 (April 9, 2005). "Bolton: There's no such thing as the UN". openDemocracy.
  43. Klotz, Lynn (November 15, 2019). "The Biological Weapons Convention protocol should be revisited". The Bulletin of American Scientists. 
  44. MacAskill, Andrew (March 19, 2019). "Trump adviser Bolton says British establishment failing on Brexit". Reuters. 
  45. Japanese-Americans Ask Reparations
  46. Remember Ollie: Lesson in Iran-Contra for Dems today