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Welcome, swamp monsters! How Bush-era warmonger David Wurmser is helping Trump take down Iran

Robert Bridge
Robert Bridge

Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. He is the author of the book, 'Midnight in the American Empire,' released in 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Robert_Bridge

Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. He is the author of the book, 'Midnight in the American Empire,' released in 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Robert_Bridge

Welcome, swamp monsters! How Bush-era warmonger David Wurmser is helping Trump take down Iran
Despite Trump’s pledge to ‘drain the swamp’ and reduce the US military’s global footprint, a chief architect of the 2003 Iraq War has the ear of the White House on Iran. What could possibly go wrong?

As Donald Trump’s first term dwindles, it appears his new campaign slogan will be “if you can’t beat the swamp, join it.” That much seems evident not only from the Trump administration’s courting of diehard hawks – gung-ho guys like Elliott Abrams and Mike Pompeo – but by the recent news that David Wurmser was offering counsel to John Bolton, former National Security Advisor to the White House.

It should be briefly recalled that Wurmser contributed heavily to the report that argued Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction. That claim was eventually proven to be 'bad intelligence,' but not before a whole lot of damage was done. 

Also on rt.com US killing of Soleimani & claims it has right to attack Iran is not ‘restoration of deterrence,’ it's return to the Wild West

Wurmser gets another shot  

According to journalist Eli Lake, Wurmser built the case for “regime disruption” against Iran in a series of memos sent to Bolton in May and June 2019, a period when tensions between Tehran and Washington were peaking in the Persian Gulf. Lake, who says he was privy to the memos thanks to a high-level source, provides a glimpse into Wurmser’s hawkish thought processes, revealing he told Bolton that offensive military action against Iran would “rattle the delicate internal balance of forces… which the regime depends for stability and survival.”

On another occasion, after Iran had downed a US drone, Wurmser suggested in a memo (dated June 22) a retaliatory attack “on someone like Soleimani or his top deputies.” Judging by Bolton’s well-known aggressive stance on Iran, however, he probably did not require much convincing from Wurmser to go after Tehran with both guns blazing. 

The revelation that Wurmser was feeding Bolton advice sheds a much-needed light – albeit an opaque one – on Trump’s inexplicable decision in early January to “take out” General Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force. That high-risk move, carried out on the territory of Iraq, prompted Tehran to respond days later with calibrated strikes on two US military bases inside of Iraq. Today, the situation remains volatile as rhetoric between the two sides has replaced – at least for the time being – outright violence.

Also on rt.com How Europe betrayed Iran: By triggering JCPOA dispute mechanism, EU helps Trump finish job of killing the Iran nuclear deal

Now the question: what could have compelled Trump to place any trust in Wurmser, whose resume reads like that of a bull in a china shop? One possibility is that Trump had no idea Wurmser was feeding Bolton and other members of his administration what amounted to yet more regime change shenanigans in the Middle East. This seems plausible considering the contradictory messages the White House was sending immediately following Soleimani’s cold-blooded murder.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for example, claimed the US had specific information on “imminent” Iranian attacks “against American facilities, including American embassies [and] military bases.” Trump, meanwhile, didn’t sound any more confident with regards to the “imminent threat” of an Iranian attack when he told Fox News, “probably it was going to be the embassy in Baghdad.

Stranger yet, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, perhaps being more forthcoming than is usual for a military man with secrets to protect, admitted “I didn’t see [evidence], with regard to four embassies” being targeted for attack by Iran. Esper eventually came around to saying that he “shared the president’s view” of an imminent attack from Iran.

It seems plausible that the Trump administration could not get its story straight on where the information about Iran and an "imminent attack" had originated, because admitting it had derived from 'the swamp' would not have sat well with their voters. That is certainly no small consideration in an election year.

Why court neocons in the first place?

When Trump hired John Bolton as his National Security Advisor in March 2018, he wasn’t just opening the corridors of power to the notorious hawk, as he may have imagined. The US leader opened the door to all of Bolton’s former colleagues and confidants who share Bolton’s dangerous obsession with going to war with Iran. As a side note, it is worth pondering whether Trump was compelled to hire Bolton because he understood he is not at liberty to abandon ‘the swamp’ as it simply wields too much power in Washington.

What is more likely is that Trump overestimated himself, believing that he was smart enough to stay one step ahead of Bolton and his swamp contacts – like the shadowy Washington insider Wurmser, who in 1996 co-authored another report, entitled, 'A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.' Drafted specifically for incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the paper promoted the idea of preemptive strikes against Iran and Syria.

So why would Trump take on such a risk? Why not bring in some fresh red-blooded conservative policymakers who genuinely want to see US troops extracted from quagmires around the Middle East and North Africa? Why all this talk about ‘draining the swamp’ when the worst of the swamp creatures are awarded such powerful positions? Perhaps Trump imagined that Bolton’s mustachioed scowl would be enough to bring enemies around to the negotiating table – gaining "leverage" before confronting your opponents, as the real estate developer advised in 'Art of the Deal.'

Whatever the case may be, the US leader seriously underestimates the fact that there are people out there – the John Boltons and David Wurmsers of the world – who are not looking for the ‘deal of the century’. These people have spent their entire careers lobbying for military confrontation and regime change, as General Wesley Clark revealed with the “seven countries in five years” plan. They will pull any trick in the book to get their wars – and all of the lucrative defense contracts that follow.

Although Trump may have squeaked by – so far – without full-blown military confrontation in places like North Korea, Syria and Venezuela, sooner or later he may get a bad roll of the dice. In fact, he may already have gambled wrongly with the warmongers he allowed into his administration, thereby setting Iran and the United States, and possibly the world, on a deadly crash course.  In that case, Trump would have nobody to blame but himself.

@Robert_Bridge

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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