End the duopoly

John Bolton and the end of coherent political narratives

When veteran right-wing hawk John R. Bolton was hired as Trump’s National Security Advisor in March 2018, most commentators anticipated, based on his past work as an undying vampire who can only survive by creating and then consuming pure human suffering, that the U.S. was on the brink of another spree of failed foreign wars and coup attempts. The New York Times editorial board wrote that month that “There are few people more likely than Mr. Bolton is to lead the country into war.” David Sanger, the Times’ national security correspondent, wrote that “The last time there was this conservative a clique around the president was 15 years ago, when Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld pressed President George W. Bush to invade Iraq.” Patrick Cockburn of The Independent wrote that “Armed conflict between the U.S. and Iran is becoming more probable by the day as super-hawks replace hawks in the Trump administration.” The conservative George Will wrote an op-ed in the Post calling Bolton “the second-most dangerous American.” Stephen Colbert called that week “the scariest of the Trump presidency.”

And so last week may have been the least scary of the Trump presidency, since Bolton was unceremoniously fired and humiliated by Trump before he even got the chance to start a single war.

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The thing is, commentators were absolutely right to worry that Bolton’s influence could embroil us in any number of new and ongoing conflicts, from turning the standoff with North Korea into a nuclear war to launching a ground invasion of Iran for adhering to the nuclear agreement we signed with them. Based on his track record as the biggest, nastiest hawk in the Bush administration — which let him rack up half a million sacrifices to the Death God in Iraq and Afghanistan before even Bush tired of him — it was entirely reasonable to assume another stint in the White House would lead him to bring about mass death and destruction.


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