War drums are beating louder in Washington’s long-festering standoff with Iran and National Security Advisor John Bolton, a veteran champion of regime change, is the bandmaster.
With his bushy mustache and beloved yellow legal pad, Bolton cuts a colorful figure at the White House.
He’s also something of an oddity.
President Donald Trump ran on the promise to pull the United States out of unwinnable post-9/11 wars — from Afghanistan to Syria — that have consumed American lives and military budgets.
That retreat remains one of Trump’s strongest points in his pitch to be the outsider president.
But Bolton, in the most powerful government position he has ever held, is working in exactly the opposite direction. Iran is only the latest country in his crosshairs…
In the run-up to what is now widely acknowledged to have been the disastrous 2003 Iraq invasion, Bolton — then the under-secretary of state for arms control and international security affairs — was one of Washington’s most energetic pro-war cheerleaders.
Now, analysts say, he’s showing similar enthusiasm for action with respect to longtime US, Israeli and Saudi foe Iran.
The Pentagon’s dispatch to the region over the last few days of an aircraft carrier group and nuclear-capable B-52 bombers was not meant to be subtle.
Bolton warned of “unrelenting force” in response to any attack by Iran.
But sending planes and ships would pale in comparison to Bolton’s latest demand, reported by The New York Times — the possible deployment of 120,000 troops to the Middle East.
Whether Trump would accept that, ditching his mantra of no more “stupid wars,” is far from clear.