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World War III Approaches as Trump Replaces McMaster with Hawk John Bolton

With the appointment of a veritable dream team (or nightmare ensemble, if you prefer) of hawks to key national security posts, should we expect more wars of choice in the next few years, or even months? John Bolton, a man some have described as”‘a man with a hammer, who sees everything as a nail,” has replaced General Herbert Raymond McMaster as Head of National Security.

Bolton’s nomination may not quite mean World War III all by itself. However, Bolton as National Security Advisor would see him join Mike Pompeo at the State Department and Gina Haspel, known for her enthusiastic support of torture, as CIA Director (if confirmed), leaving James “Mad Dog” Mattis as the last adult in the room. And when that proverbial last adult answers to “Mad Dog,” you may not want to get too close to his colleagues.

This is more a mixed martial arts arena than a cabinet–or maybe it’s more of a bullpen for rabid dogs. In fact, Mattis’ tenure will come under scrutiny, given he and the ousted Rex Tillerson agreed on all major policy points. President Donald Trump can’t fire Mattis easily because of the retired general’s military reputation; the president’s voters would not approve. But there’s always the good, old-fashioned “quitting” ploy.

That might work, and the likes of a Bolton and Pompeo would have no obstacles to finding “nails” in the global arena that need a good hammering. World War III could be this warmongering carpenter’s magnum opus.

John Bolton has strongly encouraged military intervention against Iran, just a he did against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. He has also called for the United States to attack and bomb Syria and North Korea, among others. Doing any of those things would trigger immediate crises of the kinds that trigger global wars. Russia would consider any U.S. attack against any of those countries as a major affront, given they are allies (Syria, Iran) and/or neighbors (North Korea).

And China would not remain a mere observer. President Trump has already unleashed a trade war against Beijing, Bolton has doubled down, and China has already hinted at how it might respond. (Source: “John Bolton calls China tariffs ‘shock therapy,’” The New York Post, March 25, 2018.)

The Neoconservatives Take Over Trump’s White House

They never really left, yet Bolton’s appointment means signals that the neoconservatives–who are like neoliberals in economic matters, but more aggressive in foreign policy and military affairs–are back in the command seat. And unless they’ve gone into therapy to treat their penchant for aggression, Americans and the world (some countries will experience it more directly than others) can expect a renewed “commitment” to all-out military intervention to fulfill unspecified American interests.

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