Revenge, the saying goes, is a dish best served cold, but John Bolton’s strike back at President Trump after being fired as National Security Adviser is the hottest thing in the news today. According to a report in The New York Times, Trump told Bolton “that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens.” Nor is this simply the Times trying to rally the dispirited pro-impeachment troops for one last charge in their multiply discredited impeachment case: Fox News reported that “Bolton’s representatives made clear he was not denying the Times’ claim concerning the Ukraine aid holdup and the possible investigation of the Bidens.”
Predictably, Democrat leaders are crowing today, and howling for the president’s head on a pike. The Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NYSSR) tweeted: “The @NYTimes report suggests multiple top Trump Admin officials knew the facts and deliberately misled Congress and the American people. A massive White House cover-up.” Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Shifty) agreed, tweeting: “We already have strong and direct evidence that Trump withheld military aid to demand political investigations. Bolton further corroborates it.”
President Trump, however, denied Bolton’s charge, tweeting: “I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book.”
Trump has a point. Bolton’s book containing his allegation went up for preorder at Amazon last night, just as news of his charge was released. While few might have been interested in the self-serving memoirs of a failed advocate of endless and pointless wars, now Bolton is virtually assured a massive bestseller. What’s more, if his charges sway weak establishment Republicans such as Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to announce their intention to vote to convict, other establishment Republicans could follow their lead, and Trump could become the first president in American history to be both impeached and convicted and removed from office.
It’s still a long shot, even with Bolton’s charge, but the central question is: Why would John Bolton even want to open the door to that possibility? Does his hatred for Trump burn so intensely that he would rather see him and the Republican Party discredited and destroyed over claims that are dubious at best, and the Democrats assured of unchallenged hegemony for the foreseeable future, rather than see the president continue in office?
It could be that he does, as Trump represents a strong challenge to the foreign policy establishment views that have failed again and again, and of which Bolton is a foremost exponent. At the time of Bolton’s firing, Trump said: “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning.”
According to Fox News, “Bolton’s removal comes after the hawkish adviser was reportedly sidelined from high-level discussions about military involvement in Afghanistan, after opposing diplomatic efforts in the region.” Fox quoted an unnamed “White House official,” who said: “Simply put, many of Bolton’s policy priorities did not align with POTUS.”
Bolton apparently opposed Trump’s plan to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan; he also, said the Fox report, “led a quiet effort inside the administration and with allies abroad to convince the president to keep U.S. forces in Syria to counter ISIS and Iranian influence in the region.”
Trump is right, Bolton is wrong. The fool’s errand in Afghanistan has no goal, no endpoint, no definition of victory. It should have been ended years ago, and should be ended now. What are we fighting for at this point, anyway? The Taliban are never going to surrender. American forces have supervised the implementation of an Afghan constitution that enshrined Islamic law as the highest law of the land. Yet Islamic law is nothing like the democratic principles that we went into Afghanistan to defend (over here) and establish (over there). Sharia institutionalizes the oppression of women and non-Muslims, extinguishes the freedom of speech, and denies the freedom of conscience.
Was that what we were fighting for?
Nonetheless, America continued to pour out her blood and treasure for this repressive state, with no clear objective or mission in view other than a never-defined “victory.” No one has defined what victory would look like in Afghanistan. What could it possibly look like? Has the Ghani regime ever allowed women to throw off their burqas and take their place in Afghan society as human beings equal in dignity to men? Does the Ghani government, or any Afghan government that would follow it, ever intend to guarantee basic human rights to the tiny and ever-dwindling number of non-Muslims unfortunate enough to live within its borders? Of course not.
And no matter how long American troops stay in Afghanistan, no Afghan regime is ever going to do such things. But nonetheless, we remain there, with no effort being made to formulate a more effective strategy. Muddling along is the order of the day, thanks to John Bolton and his ilk. But if the reports today are accurate, Bolton is fighting hard to keep in power the failed foreign policy establishment he did so much to build. And he may well succeed, and become an even richer man to boot, as his book tops the bestseller charts. He will prosper. Only America will pay the price.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.