Many moviegoers will remember the 1997 film, “Wag the Dog,” starring Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman—not my favorite actors by any means, but nevertheless, the movie made a significant and critical point in this age of corrupt FBI and intelligence agencies working in tandem with a major political party to stage a veritable coup d’etat—a “silent coup”—against a sitting president.
Here’s the storyline:
Two weeks prior to his possible re-election, the United States president lands in the middle of a sex scandal. In need of outside help to quell the situation, presidential adviser Winifred Ames (Anne Heche) enlists the expertise of spin doctor Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro), who decides a distraction is the best course of action. Brean approaches Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) to help him fabricate a war in Albania — and once underway, the duo has the media entirely focused on the war [and not on the scandal].
The greater point here is that today our citizens are almost entirely at the mercy of what the government tells them and what the media reports to them.
Recall the rationale for invading Iraq: those infamous “weapons of mass destruction” (WMDs) that we were told by George W. Bush and Paul Wolfowitz with absolute certainty existed in large quantities? Recall Colin Powell going to the UN to state unequivocally that we had “proof” that such weapons existed near Bagdad? Remember that very probably some of the “documents” supposedly proving the existence of WMD were forged? Remember that this “information” was used as a pretext for invading Iraq, deposing Saddam Hussein (who although a dictator was by Middle East standards, something of a moderate, at least when it came to his country’s large Christian population), and…then, we watched the emergence of a pro-Iranian Shi’a government, far more hostile to “our interests”?
Well, as we later learned there were no WMDs, despite Wolfowitz and company. Yet, by then the severe damage was done. The “regime change” so desired by the globalist Neoconservatives was almost directly opposite of what they promised: instead of a “democracy like the USA,” a pro-Iranian regime emerged—after the deaths and wounding of hundreds of American boys and many thousands of Iraqis, and billions of dollars gone (or in the pockets of arms dealers).
At the heart of that episode was John P. Bolton, consistently and ferociously advocating the imposition of democracy on, let’s see, Iraq (failed), Iran (no go), Libya (another failure), Afghanistan (don’t even ask), Syria (Assad, another dictator who is the champion of Christians and religious tolerance, has triumphed against the wishes of Bolton and other Neocons, including the late and very unlamented John McCain). And these are just a few examples.
Not a good record, to say the least. Yet, President Trump—the champion of America First and not getting this nation into a far-off conflicts, not into quagmires where we have no business being—named Bolton back on April 9, 2018, as his National Security Advisor. And ever since then the irrepressible war hawk has been searching for another war in which to involve American boys and arms (to the benefit of the major arms makers and dealers, whose donating coffers seem to open up at the sound of the guns).
Under another Neocon hawk, Mike Pompeo, as Secretary of State, the even more saber-rattling Elliot Abrams was actually brought into the administration as Special Envoy for Venezuela in January. But, wait, isn’t this the same Elliot Abrams who was an unrelenting and hardcore Never Trumper that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wanted as his Deputy Secretary of State (February 2017), but was vetoed by President Trump due to Abrams’ staunch opposition during the presidential campaign? [“Trump rejects veteran GOP foreign policy aide Elliot Abrams for State Dept. job,” The Washington Post, February 10, 2018]. What gives here? Why does the president let those with a stated agenda directly—and supposedly—opposite to his own into his administration?
Certainly, it has much to do with the loudest voices and most visible talent pool inside the Washington DC Beltway and that many of those globalists, who were former Never Trumpers, strategically attached themselves to Donald Trump after he was victorious, hoping—in many cases successfully—to shape his foreign policy along their internationalist lines. And, also, the fact that during the critical days after the 2016 election many of the Establishment Neocons were able to bend Trump’s ear first, and that a major gap, a major lacuna, in the president’s knowledge was his lack of familiarity with foreign policy. As president, Donald Trump hoped to unify the Republican Party, and, thus, his desire was to bring in various factions, including those who had opposed him (but now offered “support”)…not realizing that such additions could—and would—undermine his announced America First agenda. Lastly, the support of major pro-Israeli pressure groups and personalities, and their bank accounts, certainly was not to be ignored.
Bolton’s entry into the administration was, to use Thomas Jefferson’s famous expression, “a fire bell in the night.” It should have alerted us all that, like in the Reagan years, the battles to be waged would not just be with Democrats, but also with Establishment and Deep State globalists who claim the “conservative” mantle, but whose goals and vision are very much at odds with a president who has very little experience in navigating the snake pit which is Washington DC. And a president who faced a nearly impenetrable foreign policy swamp and a powerful internationalist establishment which has learned nothing from our national reverses in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Syria….But who would love to mire us waist-deep in another quagmire in the Persian Gulf. Or, even, as the benighted inheritors of John McCain earnestly wish, a proxy shooting conflict with Russia!
So, as to be expected, Bolton has been at it again, first regarding Venezuela, where the so-called “democratic revolution” of Juan Guaido against the socialist Maduro government has fallen flat, despite Bolton’s attempt to infer that the US was “prepared to send 30,000 troops” to the country. Remember his intentionally visible note pad with that number written in large print for all to see?
And now, it’s Iran’s time in the barrel. Of course, that large nation is no friend of the United States, and it has not been since the Shah (in many ways “our man,” even our puppet) was overthrown in 1979. And, yes, Iran has definite interests in the Middle East; it has supported (successfully) Assad in Syria and has been successful in Lebanon. More significantly, Iran is seen by Israeli Likudnik hawks and their staunch supporters here in the United States (e.g. the powerful AIPAC, etc.) as a threat to Israel (mostly via Iran’s support for Hamas), and it is no secret at all that Israel would love, so to speak, for the US to help it “get its bacon out of the fire” by attacking Iran, or at least roughing it up a bit—and by whatever means necessary.
Thus, the bated breath and frenzy of most Fox News commentators (with the exception of Tucker Carlson), who like Bolton, Pompeo, and Abrams (and the dominant globalists of the GOP) wait anxiously for some, any, “military response” to Iran’s latest “provocations”—although we have no information, no data yet about what these provocations might be. Basically, we are told to “accept on faith” that they exist, and Bolton & co. plan to brief Congress.
But the essential question arises like thunder in a storm: Iran has always been somewhat hostile to us in the Persian Gulf—yet, there have been no attacks, no assaults on any American personnel, no attacks on our vessels or our interests. Indeed, Iran, despite its fundamentalist Shi’a regime knows fully well that ANY such attack would bring swift retaliation. So, who, then, is being provocative here?
Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal and other media have reported that Bolton’s (and Pompeo’s) headlong push for (another) war has been, apparently, stymied, at least for the time being by Trump himself and that the present situation may be due to mutual “misreading” by both the US and Iran. (cf. “Intelligence Suggests U.S., Iran Misread Each Other, Stoking Tensions,” The Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2019] In fact, in his administration Donald Trump, despite his virtual lack of knowledge vis-à-vis foreign policy, may be, ironically, the only person who stands in the way of what can be called “continual war for unobtainable peace.”
For if he lets Bolton and others of that ilk have their way and we do go to war against Iran, that very simply will be the final nail in the coffin of the Trump agenda, and very probably the end of the Trump presidency in 2020. Neocons like Bolton are quite capable of using or manipulating Donald Trump…until he is no longer useful to them.