Is John Bolton the most dangerous man in the world? – The Guardian

Is John Bolton the most dangerous man in the world? - The Guardian

US pulls non-emergency staff from Iraq as Iran tensions mount

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Four years later, Senator Albert Gore – father of Bill Clintons future vice-president – warned in a closed Foreign Relations Committee session that, If this country has been misled … the consequences are very great. His suspicions were correct. The second Gulf of Tonkin attack might never have happened – and perhaps neither did. Communications to make it look like the attack occurred had been falsified. But US policy was already set on a dramatic escalation of the Vietnam war: and here was the perfect pretext.

US President Donald Trump has always hated the Iran nuclear deal. Now Iran is threatening to stop complying with some of its obligations under the agreement.

Britain and Pentagon clash over Iran threat as Brit general rubbishes US warnings of planned attack amid eva

Read more This week it emerged that the US government is discussing sending up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East for possible military action against Iran. Well see what happens with Iran, declared President Trump. If they do anything, it will be a bad mistake. The principal driving force behind this is Trumps national security adviser, John Bolton, a man who thinks there is no problem to which the answer isnt war: in the Bush era, his militarism was too much for the commander-in-chief who laid waste to Iraq. You can see them scrabbling for excuses already: the Trump administration says Iran-backed proxy groups are preparing attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria, a claim forcefully denied this week by British major-general Christopher Ghika, the deputy commander of counter-terror operations in both countries. The US has blamed Iran, without evidence, for damage to Saudi oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Could an Iranian Gulf of Tonkin be looming?

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It is easy to dismiss these fears as alarmist. Is Trump not the man who confounded his critics by seeking peace on the Korean peninsula? Trump boasts that he actually tempers Bolton; Irans supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, states: There wont be any war. As Sanam Vakil, a research fellow at Chatham House, tells me: Both sides are posturing, sending [threats] back and forth, and I dont think heading for any direct military interventions. Bolton, she reassures me, is just one of many voices in the room, and US secretary of state Mike Pompeo himself says that the US is not seeking war.

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But, but, but. Trumps presidential campaign nurtured the myth that he was the dovish candidate in contrast to hawkish Hillary Clinton (and this is no defence of Clinton, who once crowed that the US could totally obliterate Iran). Trump has dramatically increased the use of drone warfare; and he rained down missiles on Syria. He withdrew US support for the successful Iranian nuclear deal in defiance of his then defence secretary and secretary of state, and has sought to throttle Iran with sanctions. US politicians are ramping up the rhetoric: a Republican senator brags that the US could win a war with Iran with two strikes: the first strike and a last strike.

A senior Senate aide tells me that the triumph of Boltons plans is all too conceivable: Bolton could exploit Trumps ignorance of policy, an area in which he excels. While any war would not be popular with Trumps base he could be convinced by Bolton that it is possible to escalate up to a point, then pull back at the brink: but by then it may be impossible to do so. Rightwing thinktanks and broadcasters are already hyping up links between Iran and al-Qaida.

Bloomberg reports that since Trump was elected, at least 13 condos in the tower have been sold. Among the nine for which property records show the original purchase price, eight were unloaded at an inflation-adjusted loss, with several selling at a discount of more than 20 percent. (By contrast, just 0.23 percent of homes sold in Manhattan during the same period booked a loss.) And, of course, its not hard to understand why! Michael Sklar, who sold his parents unit for $1.83 million last October after they bought it for $1.4 million and spent $400,000 on renovations, summed up the situation thusly: The name on the building became a problem. . . . No one wants in that building. Matthew Hughes, a broker at Brown Harris Stevens, said that while the luxury market is softening, its rare that someone owns an apartment here for 10 years and takes a loss. Another real-estate agent told reporter Shahien Nasiripour that clients have repeatedly and insistently told him not to show them units in any of Trumps buildings. Its a similar situation at Trump properties around the world—last year, Jeffrey Rabiea, who owns three units in the Trump Panama hotel and was part of a group fighting to have the name removed, told The Washington Post: Its a bloodbath, basically. Its a financial bloodbath. . . . Nobody wants to go there. If youve got a Marriott and a Hyatt and a Trump, youre not going to Trump.

Allies Are Aghast: Is John Bolton Replaying His Iraq War Playbook with Iran?

Read more The consequences of an Iranian conflagration should horrify us. Dan Plesch – a specialist at Soas University of Londons Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy – details the US air and naval power potentially ranged against Iran: its what one of his colleagues describes as a tsunami of precision-guided molten metal. The lethality of US force, says Plesch, to very rapidly destroy military, civil, political and economic infrastructure is hugely underestimated – and is far greater than in 2003. The US would seek to impose a government-in-exile with no roots in the country; a bloody balkanisation could follow. Iran would mobilise its regional influence – dramatically increased by the Iraq catastrophe – raising the prospect of wider regional conflict.

Despite the bravado on both sides, “Its a war everyone would lose and the US definitely wouldnt win,” said one source. War would inevitably damage or destroy the prolific oil and gas installations in the Gulf, and any country with tankers in the area seen to be cooperating with the Americans would be fair game. Read more: US deploys B-52 bombers in Qatar amid Iran tensionsA war would essentially strip global markets of one fourth of the worlds oil and gas exports, potentially creating a global economic meltdown far exceeding the 2008 financial crisis. Despite the talk of fracking, renewable energy and conservation, the world still runs on oil and too much of that oil still comes from the Iran and its neighbours.

War in the Gulf: An inconvenient truth for the Iran hawks

The risk is already too real for us to wait and see before acting. Pressure must be exerted by the public on US allies to declare their total opposition to any war with Iran, including not permitting their military bases to be used. The mass protests that will greet Trumps visit in three weeks time must include demands that no British support for such a bloody adventure be offered. Feeling blasé about the danger? Well, consider this: all that stands between Boltons violent fantasy being executed is Donald Trump himself.

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