John Bolton Speaks to Young Republicans About "Ensuring Peace" ... Advocates Nuclear First Strike on Iran

Can't make this stuff up.

Years ago I had a writing instructor who was very unhappy with the use of cliché. There are many crimes a writer can commit, but using a lot of trite references, he'd repeat again and again, reflected a poor and lazy intellect. 

To say something is Orwellian or straight out of 1984certainly fits that bill. But what's a guy supposed to do when John Bolton -- our former ambassador to the freakin' UN -- goes to a conference (sponsored by the University Young Republicans and Chicago Friends of Israel, natch) called "Ensuring Peace," and says stuff like this (via Daniel Luban)?

“Negotiations have failed, and so too have sanctions,” Bolton said, echoing his previously-stated belief that sanctions will prove ineffectual in changing Tehran’s behavior. “So we’re at a very unhappy point — a very unhappy point — where unless Israel is prepared to use nuclear weapons against Iran’s program, Iran will have nuclear weapons in the very near future.”

Emphasis is Luban's. I think the Great Mustache of Crazy's statement isn't quite as clear cut as Daniel. But, as he goes on to note, even in its ambiguity, it is significant to the degree it shifts the parameters of the debate:

Bolton made clear that the latter option is unacceptable... While Bolton coyly refused to spell out his conclusion, the implications of his argument were clear. If neither negotiations, nor sanctions, nor deterrence are options, then by his logic the only remaining option is for “Israel…to use nuclear weapons against Iran’s program.”

Of course, it is nothing new for Bolton and his neoconservative allies to threaten an Israeli strike against Iran. But Bolton’s use of the “n-word” is, I believe, new for him, and marks a significant rhetorical escalation from the hawks. An Israeli strike, nuclear or otherwise, without U.S. permission remains unlikely. But as it often the case, I suspect that Bolton’s intention is less to give an accurate description of reality than it is to stake out positions extreme enough to shift the boundaries of debate as a whole to the right.


Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.
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