Former U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton’s revenge book hasn’t revealed much that is new. It mostly adds details to already-known episodes of President Donald Trump’s mismanagement of world affairs. But there is one exception: the story of Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to sabotage Trump’s would-be diplomacy with Tehran. This episode reveals something crucial and until now not fully appreciated: Netanyahu’s ferocious opposition to the Iran nuclear deal had little to do with the deal itself and everything to do with the very idea of the United States striking any deal with Iran. The same is true for Saudi Arabia. Whomever occupies the White House next year must address head-on the Israeli prime minister and the Saudi crown prince’s commitment to keeping the United States bogged down in conflict with Iran.
Bolton boasts about his extensive coordination with Pompeo and Netanyahu to scuttle mediation efforts by French President Emmanuel Macron and to, at all costs, prevent a meeting between Trump and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, in 2019.
Desperate to block any opening between the United States and Iran, Bolton instructed his staff to prepare a flight for him to return to Washington in protest. The idea of the Americans and Iranians talking to each other so offended Bolton that he prepared a two-sentence letter of resignation if the meeting were to go ahead. He had no such letter in hand before Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. In fact, Bolton himself participated in that meeting and shook Kim’s hand—demonstrating that as hawkish as he is on North Korea, he views Iran as a separate sort of pariah altogether. He had already succeeded in scuttling an effort by Republican Sen. Rand Paul to get Zarif to visit the White House. Pompeo assured Bolton that he would follow his lead in resigning if Trump met with Zarif, though, publicly, Pompeo continues to insist that his goal is to get the Iranians to “come to the table.”
Read the full article in Foreign Policy.