I cannot claim to be one of those people not concerned about what this week’s sudden departure of John Bolton from the White House might be signaling. Taken together with last week’s resignation of U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, this might be signaling the end of the Trump-Israel honeymoon.
John Bolton has served the United States with distinction in a great many capacities: as National Security Advisor under U.S. President Donald Trump, as U.N. Ambassador under President George W. Bush and as Assistant Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan. He possesses a sober and realistic assessment as to who America’s friends and adversaries truly are, and a sophisticated, no-nonsense view of the multiply threats facing the United States and its allies.
Bolton has projected the doctrine of “peace through strength,” not through appeasement. He was a strong supporter of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which as we now see has only served to enrich, empower and embolden the Islamic Republic as it continues to carve out a Shi’ite empire that extends through Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut through the Mediterranean Coast and into Sana’a.
We are seeing the products of the Shiite Crescent’s works as Hezbollah has encroached closer and closer to Israel’s borders, and has as recently as Sept. 2, fired several missiles into Israel, which the Israel Defense Forces had successfully intercepted. The Iranians have been giving Hezbollah the means to convert their dummy rockets into precision-guided missiles, which they have been working on in conversion factories in Lebanon’s Baka Valley.
It is the Jewish state’s greatest nightmare that these missiles will become precise enough to hit Israel’s military or civilian infrastructure. Hezbollah has one goal and one goal alone: to eliminate the existence of the Jewish state.
This news also comes on the heels of last week’s announcement by the Islamic Republic that it is stepping up the level of enrichment of uranium. The regime is now using the sophisticated, advanced centrifuges that can quickly get to the 20 percent level of purity, making it quite easy to get from that threshold to the lethal 90 percent purity level necessary for a nuclear bomb. This is not a mere technical violation of the JCPOA; it is the entire reason why there was a deal in the first place.
There have been violations all along, including the refusal of allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors into military sites. Remember how we had been promised by the Obama administration of “anytime, anywhere inspections?”
In an address just one week before the next round of national elections on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed yet another nuclear site with vivid satellite images in the Iranian city of Abadan that was operational as recently as three months ago, which they then totally destroyed and covered up. “It’s incredible,” said Netanyahu, “as soon as we reveal they cover their tracks.”
Nevertheless, Trump has signaled a willingness to meet with the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly when it convenes on Sept. 23. The fact that he was willing to meet with the Taliban on U.S. soil and has been willing to negotiate with Kim Jong-un of North Korea does not auger well.
Is the president willing to follow French President Emmanuel Macron’s lead and cave to a $15 billion bribe to the Iranians just to have them come to the table?
The Iranian’s response of approval to Trump’s dismissal of Bolton should already warn us how dangerous this move is. On Wednesday, Iranian President Rouhani said, “Americans have to realize that warmongering and warmongers are not to their benefit. They should not only abandon warmongering, but also their maximal pressure campaign.”
If we are to lay culpability anywhere, it should be at the Obama White House, who bequeathed us with the legacy of this horrible deal and an emboldened Iranian empire that future world leaders will have to deal with. Obama promised us that Iran would not get a nuclear bomb, “on my watch.”
He never promised that Iran would not get a nuclear bomb on another president’s watch.
Following a script that they had used in the beginning of the nuclear negotiations with Obama, the Iranians are now playing coy with Trump’s signals to negotiate.
The Iranians invented the Persian souk. They know how to negotiate and to get most of the world to beg them for our money, just to have them come to the table.
Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, D.C.