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:

March 19, 2019
Paul Street
Socialism Curiously Trumps Fascism in U.S. Political Threat Reporting
Jonah Raskin
Guy Standing on Anxiety, Anger and Alienation: an Interview About “The Precariat”
Patrick Cockburn
The Brutal Legacy of Bloody Sunday is a Powerful Warning to Those Hoping to Save Brexit
Robert Fisk
Turning Algeria Into a Necrocracy
John Steppling
Day of Wrath
Robin Philpot
Truth, Freedom and Peace Will Prevail in Rwanda
Victor Grossman
Women Marchers and Absentees
Binoy Kampmark
The Dangers of Values: Brenton Tarrant, Fraser Anning and the Christchurch Shootings
Jeff Sher
Let Big Pharma Build the Wall
Jimmy Centeno
Venezuela Beneath the Skin of Imperialism
Jeffrey Sommers – Christopher Fons
Scott Walker’s Failure, Progressive Wisconsin’s Win: Milwaukee’s 2020 Democratic Party Convention
Steve Early
Time for Change at NewsGuild?
March 18, 2019
Scott Poynting
Terrorism Has No Religion
Ipek S. Burnett
Black Lives on Trial
John Feffer
The World’s Most Dangerous Divide
Paul Cochrane
On the Ground in Venezuela vs. the Media Spectacle
Dean Baker
The Fed and the 3.8 Percent Unemployment Rate
Thomas Knapp
Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark
Binoy Kampmark
Death in New Zealand: The Christchurch Shootings
Mark Weisbrot
The Reality Behind Trump’s Venezuela Regime Change Coalition
Weekend Edition
March 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Is Ilhan Omar Wrong…About Anything?
Kenn Orphan
Grieving in the Anthropocene
Jeffrey Kaye
On the Death of Guantanamo Detainee 10028
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
In Salinas, Puerto Rico, Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria
Ben Debney
Christchurch, the White Victim Complex and Savage Capitalism
Eric Draitser
Did Dallas Police and Local Media Collude to Cover Up Terrorist Threats against Journalist Barrett Brown?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Straighten Up and Fly Right
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s $34 Trillion Deficit and Debt Bomb
David Rosen
America’s Puppet: Meet Juan Guaidó
Jason Hirthler
Annexing the Stars: Walcott, Rhodes, and Venezuela
Samantha M. - Angelica Perkins
Our Green New Deal
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s Nightmare Budget
Steven Colatrella
The 18th Brumaire of Just About Everybody: the Rise of Authoritarian Strongmen and How to Prevent and Reverse It
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Riding the Wild Bull of Nuclear Power
Michael K. Smith
Thirty Years Gone: Remembering “Cactus Ed”
Dean Baker
In Praise of Budget Deficits
Howard Lisnoff
Want Your Kids to Make it Big in the World of Elite Education in the U.S.?
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Foreign Policy is Based on Confrontation and Malevolence
John W. Whitehead
Pity the Nation: War Spending is Bankrupting America
Priti Gulati Cox
“Maria! Maria! It Was Maria That Destroyed Us!” The Human Story
Missy Comley Beattie
On Our Knees
Mike Garrity – Carole King
A Landscape Lewis and Clark Would Recognize is Under Threat
Robert Fantina
The Media-Created Front Runners
Tom Clifford
Bloody Sunday and the Charging of Soldier F
Ron Jacobs
All the Livelong Day      
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail