Written by Caitlin Johnstone; Originally appeared at her blog
If you’ve been wondering why you’re seeing John Bolton’s carrion-soaked mustache on screen more than usual lately, it’s because things are escalating further with Iran.
President Trump’s National Security Advisor has been on a whirlwind media tour helping the imperial propaganda machine manufacture support for the latest round of crushing sanctions that have now gone into effect against the Islamic Republic. Bolton has been a busy little bee, smearing and deceiving and manipulating the narrative to ensure that we all know the unrest and violence that may be about to erupt in Tehran is totally, totally organic and not at all the result of the CIA covert operations that have been implemented there.
Throughout his appearances on such outlets as Fox News, Fox Business, Fox & Friends, CNN’s The Lead, and Conservative Review, Bolton has been repeating the blatantly false talking point that Iran is somehow uniquely egregious in the Middle East in its support for terrorist factions, calling it the “world’s central banker for international terrorism.”
Since we’re seeing so much John Bolton and so much talk of terrorists, I think this would be a good opportunity to remind everyone of the time John Bolton threatened to murder the children of an OPCW official in order to deceive the world into consenting to the Iraq war which killed a million people.
José Bustani was the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in early 2002, during which time The Intercept reports he came under fire for having too much success in diplomacy with the Iraqi government, which undermined the case for an invasion. So Bolton attempted to scare him off.
From The Intercept:
“Cheney wants you out,” Bustani recalled Bolton saying, referring to the then-vice president of the United States. “We can’t accept your management style.”
Bolton continued, according to Bustani’s recollections: “You have 24 hours to leave the organization, and if you don’t comply with this decision by Washington, we have ways to retaliate against you.”
There was a pause.
“We know where your kids live. You have two sons in New York.”
Bolton declined to comment on the story, his spokesperson instead referring The Intercept to a section from his 2008 memoir which in no way contradicted Bustani’s account of the interaction.
Who would do such a thing? Who would threaten an official’s children in order to advance a pervasively evil military intervention based on lies? Only an actual, literal psychopath. Someone with no conscience, no morals, no empathy, no humanity.
Bolton still maintains that the disastrous and unforgivable Iraq invasion was a great idea and a resounding success. And he’s not lying. To him, it was a resounding success, because his goal was death and destruction. He is a psychopath and a lover of death. This is who is guiding this administration’s approach to Iran.
It is bizarre to me that everyone isn’t talking about this all the time. It’s bizarre that Trump’s political opposition prefers to spend all its energy diddling nonsense about someone’s assistant vice secretary buying a used car from a lady whose neighbor’s dog’s veterinarian might possibly have been Russian but you can’t see the evidence for it because the evidence is secret, when this president has appointed an actual murderous psychopath to his highest advisory position. At least on a grassroots level this should be what rank-and-file anti-Trump #Resisters are talking about.
But they don’t. Because the so-called “Resistance” is astroturf from top to bottom, and it’s being driven by a corporatist establishment media machine that serves the same depraved oligarchy as John Bolton. In a healthy society someone like Bolton would be kept in a cage and never let out without being strapped to a gurney with a leather mask over his mouth like Hannibal Lecter. In this society, he is a celebrated official. He is the establishment.
Surprisingly, Bolton’s false narrative that Iran is the top terrorism sponsor was disrupted today by none other than Geraldo Rivera on none other than Fox freaking News. I’m going to type out a transcript of the brief exchange, because getting anything resembling truth on the Fox News lie factory is a small miracle whenever it occurs, and should be documented for posterity.
“I think that our entire policy vis-à-vis Iran is bankrupt,” Rivera said on Fox’s The Five. “I think that we have totally picked the wrong enemy in the Middle East. In my experience in decades of war reporting, the nuisance, the evil doer, is Saudi Arabia. It was the Saudi Arabians who were the 9/11 hijackers. They’re ISIS, they’re al-Qaeda, they’re al-Shabaab, it’s the Sunni Saudi Arabians who are the real problem. The Iranians, I believe we can do business with them. They’re the sheiks of Rodeo Drive in southern California. They’re the Persians.”
The other panelists, who were visibly distressed during this spiel, were no longer able to contain themselves and began to interject comments like “There can be more than one problem!” and “It’s the regime in Iran we have the problem with!”
“I think we really have gone-” Rivera struggled over the interruptions. “We’ve been bought and purchased by the Saudis. The Saudis have bought and purchased American foreign policy.”
It was sloppy. It was Fox News sloppy. It was old-conserative-guy-talking-about-Muslims sloppy. And it was glorious. Criticizing Saudi Arabia is almost as much a taboo on Fox News as criticizing Israel, because Saudi Arabia plays as much a role in the bloodthirsty agendas of the US-centralized empire as Israel does. The KSA’s completely opaque and unaccountable totalitarian monarchy and its vast troves of oil money have enabled it to finance all kinds of unspeakable evils around the world that a pretend democracy like Israel, the United States or the United Kingdom would never be able to get away with. Among the band of brothers which comprise the US-centralized alliance, Saudi Arabia is the one who knows how to dissolve a human body in a tub of acid.
This is not to suggest that the US should be starting a conflict with Saudi Arabia (not that there’s any danger of that happening with the lucrative petrodollar deals and the amount of lobbyists that the KSA keeps pouring into Washington). It’s just to flag the fact that there’s nothing you can say about Iran that can’t be said far more damningly about Saudi Arabia, so anyone who babbles about the Iranian government’s human rights violations or terrorist funding isn’t arguing based on principle, but based on something their television told them to believe and regurgitate. If it were really about humanitarian concerns instead of some deceitful propaganda injected into their thought stream by right-wing media, they wouldn’t be pointing at Saudi Arabia’s chief geopolitical rival Iran, they’d be pointing at Saudi Arabia.
Hence Bolton’s media tour. If he and his neocon cohorts succeed in implementing the same strategy in Iran that was implemented against Libya and Syria, we can expect unfathomable destabilization, suffering and death, and it will be necessary to stay ahead of that narrative and make sure that people are talking about the catastrophe as a “civil war” and not a destabilization deliberately engineered by the US-centralized alliance. All Trump’s people need to do is keep circulating lies about Iran, and all Trump’s fake opposition has to do is mostly ignore them.
And of course from his history we know that Bolton would happily facilitate such an agenda. The man is the closest thing that this world has to a true monster.