John Bolton was recently appointed to replace General H.R. McMaster as Trump’s national security adviser. The appointment, which was praised by right-wing politicians, has brought on even more international criticism of Trump administration. 

Phyllis Bennis, director of the New International Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, joined the Real News to discuss Bolton’s history of taking hardline positions on critical foreign policy issues.

In particular, she relayed an instance in which Bolton personally intervened — outside of his authority — to halt a ceasefire during Israel’s 2006 bombing of Lebanon.

As a ceasefire resolution was moving forward at the UN, Bennis said, Bolton called for a private, in-home meeting with Dan Gillerman, who was serving as Israeli ambassador the UN, shortly before the final resolution was passed. Bolton urged Gillerman to “call the president of Israel and have him call President Bush and stop [the ceasefire] from happening.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice later confirmed that she had not permitted Bolton’s actions.

Bolton had not only subverted Rice’s resolution, then, but was acting essentially as “an agent, and asset for Israel against the interests of his own secretary of state, his own State Department, his own superiors, and his own president,” said Bennis. “This is an extraordinary moment of exposé of Bolton’s actual accountability being far greater to the interests of Israel than to the interests of his own government.”

Looking to the present, Bennis expects Bolton to counsel Trump to echo the Israeli government’s hard line on Iran, and especially on the Iran nuclear deal.

“It’s a very dangerous moment,” said Bennis. “Trump has to either recertify that Iran is…abiding by the terms of the agreement” or “say they are not.” If the Trump administration pulls out of the deal, it could lead to a resumption of Iran’s nuclear enrichment program and the potential for conflict.

According to Bennis, Bolton has strongly advocated against the Iran nuclear deal in the past. Further, Bennis noted that Bolton has not only supported bombing Iran, but previously pressured the Israeli minister of defense to attack Iran.

Bolton’s advice to President Trump, she concluded, will likely reflect his views that the U.S. should bomb Iran, and abandon the nuclear deal that has “worked so powerfully for the last three years.”

Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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