Imagine for a minute that your town needs to hire a new fire chief, and after an extensive search, they decide to hire a pyromaniac.
But it’s not just that this new fire chief likes fires, he loves them, and he happens to be really, really good at starting them. And it’s not like people didn’t know this before he got the job. He had spent years talking and writing about how much he loves fires. He talked about it on TV, he wrote books about it, and he was paid to give speeches talking about his love for starting fires — all because he had these odd theories about how burning down buildings is the best way to save the people inside.
But it wasn’t just talk. He also had a long history of starting fires. He started big fires, small fires, ones that erupt right away and ones that have smoldered so long that they’re still just starting to burn now that he’s the fire chief. Everybody knows this. They’ve watched him start the fires, and thought ‘ya know, that guy really likes fires.’ And now he’s the guy in charge of putting out fires in your town.
I think we can all agree that hiring an arsonist as the town fire prevention chief would be batshit nuts. But it turns out that’s exactly what Donald Trump has done with our nation’s foreign policy when he hired pyromaniac turned fire chief, John Bolton as his National Security Advisor.
The man who once wrote “To stop Iran’s bomb, bomb Iran,” just as the US and world powers were inking a deal to rein in Iran’s nuclear program, is doing everything he can to put his words into practice.
You may remember John Bolton as the mustached buffoon who occasionally appeared on right-wing news, explaining why we should be bombing this or that country to bring them peace. After Trump worked his way through his first two National Security Advisors, he got over his dislike of Bolton’s mustache and put him in one of the few positions of real power in the Executive Branch that, for some reason, does not require Senate confirmation, something Bolton has proven utterly incapable of securing.
Now firmly ensconced atop America’s national security state, Bolton has set about his favorite activity, starting fires — all at once, all over the world.
The man who once wrote “To stop Iran’s bomb, bomb Iran,” just as the US and world powers were inking a deal to rein in Iran’s nuclear program, is doing everything he can to put his words into practice. Having helped pull the US out of the successful Iran nuclear agreement, Bolton has reportedly, single-handedly pushed the Pentagon to draw up war plans for Iran. Someone no one elected, that the Senate didn’t confirm, is instructing the United States military to draw up plans to start a war so bad one general famously quipped “if you like Iraq and Afghanistan, you’ll love Iran.”
Short of getting his direct attack on Iran, he’s willing to settle for a proxy war. Bolton has worked behind the scenes to undermine his boss’ stated intention to withdraw from Syria to fulfill his prophecy that “we’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders.” He’s been part of the administration chorus erroneously saying that the situation in Yemen is all Iran’s fault, seeking justification to continued unauthorized US military involvement there. He seems willing to settle for a war with Iran anywhere he can start one.
But one important point about Bolton is that like any good pyromaniac, he’s not satisfied trying to start just one fire. It should come as no surprise that Bolton’s latest attempted inferno is Venezuela. The Washington Post brings us all into the room of Bolton’s latest National Security Council meeting in which his aides routinely and hostilely interrupted the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff because they wanted to solely focus on “military options,” a euphemistic term for ways to make war.
That’s the thing about pyromaniacs and their cronies, they don’t like it when you don’t let them start fires.
His track record is clear. John Bolton never met a challenge he didn’t want to turn into a crisis. He never met a crisis he didn’t want to make into a war. And he never met a war that he thinks should be ended. If there was a hall of fame for pyromaniacs, John Bolton should be ranked first.
Of course, Bolton isn’t the President, he only works for him. So where is his boss in all this? Trump is playing the back nine with his favorite autocrat of the day while the world turns into an inferno. Perhaps Trump is simply hoping to arrange a retirement home beyond the reach of those pesky federal prosecutors awaiting his post-Presidency. Maybe he’s thinking about whether he’d like to open Trump Tower Riyadh or Moscow first. Either way, the guy who said “great nations do not fight endless wars” is sitting idly by while his National Security Advisor attempts to start and continue the United States’ endless wars.
The simple truth is that John Bolton is hoping that we’ll all forget that somehow we let a pyromaniac become fire chief. We can’t let that happen. We need to keep the spotlight firmly on the guy lighting fires around the world. Sooner or later those fires are going to get bigger, and when that happens, Bolton’s game plan has always been to pretend he had nothing to do with it.
We know what’s going to happen and what he’s going to do. The only question left is what we’ll do in response.