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Bolton Fired For Being Right About The Taliban

John Bolton fired
Let’s be honest, many people in Washington who have worked with or know John Bolton consider him to be smart, insightful about national security and foreign affairs – and a pain to deal with.

John Bolton was never Trump’s first choice for national security advisor, but his wise counsel on matters of dealing with the North Koreans, the Iranians and the Taliban were desperately needed inside a White House where the conflicting goals of maintaining and projecting American power and making peace were constantly being played out in presidential tweets.

Bolton was the perfect messenger for Trump’s hardline against Iran, crisscrossing the Middle East and advocating “regime change” in Tehran. Earlier this summer when Iran and its proxies began a new campaign of harassment against western and Saudi oil interests Bolton warned that if Iran or its “proxy” armies, such as the Houthi rebels in Yemen, damage U.S. assets in the Persian Gulf or vicinity, retaliation would be fierce.

“I don’t think anybody who is familiar with the situation in the region, whether they have examined the evidence or not, thinks anything other than that these attacks were carried out by Iran or their surrogates,” Bolton said according to a May 30, 2019 by Tracy Wilkinson of the Los Angeles Times.

“It’s important that the leadership in Iran knows that we know,” he said.

In contrast to Bolton’s bellicose comments, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo hinted at a diplomatic effort to ease tensions. And President Trump, in a reversal, said that he would be willing to negotiate with Iran.

Bolton was also a leading voice in the effort to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. But, as Morgan Chalfant and Brett Samuels reported for The Hill, months after the U.S. backed an opposition leader, Maduro remains in power, and Trump has reportedly grown frustrated with the stagnant situation.

These head snapping Trumpian reversals between kinetic action and negotiation were completely at odds with John Bolton’s style, but in the end, what likely got John Bolton fired was being right about making peace with the Taliban.

Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence were both allegedly opposed to the plan to meet with leaders of the Taliban and Afghanistan's president at Camp David, NBC News reported Monday.

Bolton was reportedly vehemently opposed to the proposal, while officials at the State Department argued it could move the parties closer to an agreement.

According to reporting by Chris Mills Rodrigo of The Hill, Bolton was a vocal skeptic of the peace talks with the Taliban that had been in the works for months.

U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad announced recently that the Trump administration had reached an agreement "in principle" to shutter several bases and withdraw 5,000 troops from the country within about five months in exchange for the Taliban not allowing militants to use Afghanistan to plan attacks on the U.S. or its allies.

Bolton undoubtedly made it clear to the President that such an agreement with the Taliban would not be worth the paper it was printed on, and he of course would be correct in offering such counsel.

As we explained in our columns Tillerson’s Unconscionable And Immoral Goal In Afghanistan, The Folly Of Peace Without Victory In Afghanistan and  When Will Our Leaders Get The Message Of 9/11? the Taliban and the United States have completely different understandings of their war aims in Afghanistan, and our failure to understand the enemy’s aims has completely blinded our leaders in their conduct of the war in Afghanistan.

The war in Afghanistan isn’t a regional or tribal conflict, it isn’t a war on “terrorism,” it isn’t a war on narco-warlords (even though 90% of the worlds illicit opium originates there); it is a war between the values of Islam and the values of the Western Enlightenment, and if you refuse to understand it and fight it on those terms the war in Afghanistan will never be over and certainly never be won.

It is clear to anyone with a modicum of knowledge about Islam and its doctrine of Sharia supremacy that the Taliban in Afghanistan and ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and its offshoots elsewhere around the world, do not desire any kind of “peace” except the peace of the Ummah – the peace of the worldwide reign of Islam.

Despite that reality, the President has made it clear that a central, and very personal, goal of his administration is to bring American troops home and to “wage peace” as much as possible. Over the next few days much will be written about West Wing power struggles and the tension between Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or Bolton and Jared Kushner, but in the end, being right about Taliban perfidy and being out of sync with President Trump’s laudable, but impractical goal of making peace with them, is undoubtedly what got John Bolton fired.

George Rasley is editor of Richard Viguerie's A veteran of over 300 political campaigns, he served on the staff of Vice President Dan Quayle, as Director of Policy and Communication for former Congressman Adam Putnam (FL-12) then Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, and as spokesman for Rep. Mac Thornberry former Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. 

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