FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Bringing Back the Bush Era

Photo by Donna Cleveland | CC BY 2.0

Political reporters have a saying: There’s always a tweet.

That is, for nearly every political moment or presidential decree, there’s an uncannily on-point comment buried somewhere in the presidential Twitter feed. Often it features the president expressing a past view that’s diametrically opposed to whatever he’s doing now.

Here’s an example from 2013: “All former Bush administration officials should have zero standing on Syria,” Donald J. Trump tweeted. “Iraq was a waste of blood & treasure.”

I agree.

According to Brown University and the Institute for Policy Studies, Americans spend $32 million every single hour on wars started in the Bush era. Thousands of U.S. troops are dead, while credible estimates put the number of dead in the Middle East at upwards of a million. Byproducts included a shocking torture scandal that eviscerated U.S. standing abroad.

Fast forward to 2018 — year two of “making America great again” after all that — and what do we find?

Trump has tapped John Bolton, perhaps the most ferocious war hawk from the Bush years, to be his National Security Adviser. There he’ll enjoy top standing on Syria, along with Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and any other part of the planet he elects to immiserate.

Trump most likely knows Bolton from Fox News, where the mustachioed chicken hawk appears regularly to drop rhetorical bombs in support of dropping literal bombs. Lately Bolton has been a loud advocate of pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, scuttling talks with North Korea, and then bombing both countries.

In the George W. Bush administration, Bolton did a lot more than talk.

He twisted arms at the UN trying to oust arms control diplomats like Jose Bustani and Mohamed elBaradei, who (correctly) cast doubt on the administration’s false claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Bolton also persuaded the White House to walk away from a deal that had frozen North Korea’s nuclear program for eight years. “It was,” a New York Times editorial put it delicately, “the sort of simplistic and wrongheaded position he takes on most policies.”

Back in the White House, Bolton could reprise both roles.

He’ll almost certainly lean on Trump to cancel the hard-won Iran deal, just as he bulldozed diplomatic impediments to the Iraq War. And he’ll arrive on the cusp of a historic possible meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung Un — bad news for anyone who hopes those talks lower tensions.

“Boy, that formula really worked well the last time the United States tried it, didn’t it?” quipped Harvard international relations expert Steve Walt. “No wonder a sophisticated foreign-policy expert like Trump wants to try it again.”

Trump is also elevating torture enthusiast Mike Pompeo to lead the State Department. And he’s picked Gina Haspel, who ran a CIA torture chamber in Thailand and then destroyed the evidence, to head the CIA.

Once upon a time, Trump seemed to issue a blanket ban on the Bush legacy. Now he’s brought back the architects of its darkest moments.

Moments for which you and I shelled out $32 million in the time it took me to write this piece — while countless others cowered under bombs.

Ideally, Congress will reassert its powers over war and peace before more “blood and treasure” are shed. If not, the only check left on Trump’s worst impulses will be his own old tweets.

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
August 23, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Notes on Inauthenticity in a Creeping Fascist Nuthouse
Andrew Levine
Recession Now, Please
Rob Urie
Mr. Trump Goes to Kensington
Jeffrey St. Clair
Deep Time and the Green River, Floating
Robert Hunziker
Earth 4C Hotter
Kenneth Good
Congo’s Patrice Lumumba: The Winds of Reaction in Africa
Pete Dolack
The Realism and Unrealism of the Green New Deals
David Rosen
The White-Nationalist Great Fear
Kenn Orphan
The War on Indigenous People is a War on the Biosphere Itself
L. Michael Hager
What Netanyahu’s Travel Ban Has Revealed
Ramzy Baroud
Jewish Settlers Rule the Roost in Israel, But at What Price?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Is Environmental Protection Possible?
Josue De Luna Navarro
What It’s Like to Grow Up Hunted
Ralph Nader
They Don’t Make Republicans Like the Great Paul Findley Anymore!
Gary Olson
Whither the Resistance to our Capitalist Overlords?
Dean Baker
On Those Downward Jobs Revisions
Rev. William Alberts
Beware of the Gun-Lover-in-Chief
Helder F. do Vale
Brazil: From Global Leader to U.S. Lapdog
Laura Finley
Educators Actually Do “Work” in the Summer
Jim Goodman
Farmers Need a Bill of Rights
Tom Clifford
What China’s Leadership is Really Worried About: Rising Debt
Daphne Wysham
Saving the Planet Means Fighting Bipartisan Corruption
Tierra Curry
Amazon Fires Put the Planet at Risk
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Decentralize Power and Revive Regional Political Institutions
John W. Whitehead
American Apocalypse
George Wuerthner
How Agriculture and Ranching Subvert the Re-Wilding of America
Daniel Murphy
Capital in the 21st Century
Jessicah Pierre
400 Years After Slavery’s Start, No More Band-Aids
Kim C. Domenico
Finding the Comrades: Maintaining Precarious Sanity In Insane Times
Gary Leupp
“Based on the Fact She Won’t Sell Me Greenland, I’m Staying Home”
John Kendall Hawkins
The Chicago 8 Trial, Revisited
Rivera Sun
Tapping into People Power
Ted Rall
As Long as Enemies of the State Keep Dying Before Trial, No One Should Trust the State
Jesse Jackson
The Significance of the “1619 Project”
Thomas Knapp
“Nuance” in Politics and Public Policy? No Thanks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and Endangered Species, Wildlife and Human
Mel Gurtov
China’s Hong Kong Nightmare, and the US Response
Ron Forthofer
Sick of Being a Guinea Pig
Nicky Reid
Why I Stopped Being White (and You Should Too)
Jill Richardson
As the School Year Starts, I’m Grateful for the ADA
Seth Sandronsky
Rethinking the GDR
Adolf Alzuphar
Tears / Ayizan Velekete
Stephen Cooper
General Jah Mikey: “I Just Love That Microphone, Man”
Louis Proyect
Slaves to the Clock
David Yearsley
Moral Cantatas
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail