Bolton Ousted as National Security Advisor
John Bolton is finally through as National Security Advisor. Trump is currently reviewing a list of replacements, but rest assured, whoever is chosen will have a royal mess to clean up from the wake of destruction Bolton left behind- a man who inflamed tensions wherever he seemed to cast his warlike gaze.
This is assuming Trump appoints a less warmongering National Security Advisor than Bolton. It’s difficult to imagine a more war-obsessed advisor, but in today’s Bizarro world, anything crazy appears possible.
Daniel Larison, from The American Conservative, mentioned of Bolton’s legacy:
“Whoever takes over as Bolton’s replacement will have a difficult job of repairing the damage that he did. Bolton presided over the most dysfunctional national security process in recent memory by design, and that compounded the administration’s existing foreign policy dysfunction. He pushed an extremely hawkish agenda that has led the U.S. closer to unnecessary war with Iran, disastrously committed the U.S. to regime change in Venezuela, and effectively torpedoed diplomatic engagement with North Korea.”
In the last War Report, we pointed out that the Trump administration was de-escalating the coup attempt from the fever pitch back in April. But that has not stopped the crushing sanctions and other efforts that the US has been applying to Venezuela for years.
Recently, a ramping up of sanctions aimed at blocking Venezuelan oil exports has been carried out- dubbed an effective blockade by some- never mind the fact that these new sanctions are blatantly illegal.
The Venezuelan people appear to be correctly identifying the United States as a major contributor to their economic woes, and that sanctions are being ramped up to make life miserable on the people themselves in hopes they force regime change to which the US can install their puppet president Guido.
Rebecca Hanson and Francisco Sanchez, writing for the North American Congress in Latin America (NACLA), mention the following:
“Many recognize that sanctions will not incentivize politicians to change course, because they are not the ones who suffer from them. Venezuelans are acutely aware of what policy analysts and academics have been saying since the announcement of the sanctions: The victims are the Venezuelan people. The situation is perhaps best summed up by an observation a friend made, after sanctions were applied earlier this year: ‘El partido trancado y el pueblo con la cochina en la mano.’ Drawing on a metaphor from domino, this can be translated to: ‘Those playing the political game have no moves left, and it’s the people who end up being screwed in the end.’”
The Trump Administration wants to install Guido 1) in order to privatize their nationalized oil industry for the fossil fuel industry in the US to get their hands on it and 2) to expand US empire in South America. Expect pressure to be maintained on Venezuela throughout Trump’s tenure.
Iran Remains a Hot Spot
As initially promising it may have been that Bolton was fired by Trump, Vijay Prashad (writing for Truthdig) urges caution, arguing it wasn’t just Bolton pushing for global conflict. And on Iran specifically, there is “a legion of arms dealers, lobbyists, establishment hawks, and people who believe that the United States should bomb Iran on behalf of Israel and Saudi Arabia”.
Yes, a potential war with Iran is back in the news as the hawks continue their long-standing goal of invading the Persian country under any pretext they can find- real or imagined.
Sound a bit like Iraq in 2003?
Despite the Houthis claiming responsibility for a recent drone strike on Saudi Arabian oil facilities on September 14th, the Trump Administration is seeking to use this issue as a hopeful pretext for attacking Iran on behalf of the Saudis. Trump would go on to tweet the next day, on September 15th :
“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”
The alleged “culprit” obviously being Iran.
Thankfully, it appears that other countries- Europe especially- have learned from the lessons of Iraq and do not support the US in another blatantly illegal invasion.
War in Afghanistan
Our nation’s longest war in history, the War in Afghanistan appears to finally be nearing its end. It’s cost around $2 trillion and tens of thousands of civilian and soldiers’ lives over 18 years.
The Taliban is reported to be in a stronger position now than before the US invaded in 2001 with the Afghan government losing more and more territory in recent years. In other words: we’re clearly losing in a way that echoes the Vietnam War forty years ago- empires are slow to learn, it would seem.
Attempting to live up to campaign promises of pulling out of Afghanistan, the Trump Administration has been negotiating a ceasefire agreement with the Taliban (notably without the involvement of the Afghan government), culminating in a tentative deal: in exchange for the US withdrawing its military gradually, the Taliban would pledge not to let Afghanistan be a launching pad for global terrorist attacks in the future.
Formal acceptance of the deal seemed promising and would have marked a positive for the Trump Administration’s foreign policy record, but President Trump suddenly called off a meeting and halted talks with Taliban leaders in Camp David on assumptions of criticism from those on the right accusing Trump of being weak for pursuing peace.
It’s unclear where the talks will go from here, but with a steadily declining US/Afghan position in relation to the Taliban, coupled with a US population either war weary about the conflict or simply not paying any attention, the US is likely to strike a deal with the Taliban at some point in the future. There isn’t any other clear path for the US in Afghanistan other than military escalation: a prospect the US fortunately does not appear to have the will to stomach again.