What Is Stopping John Bolton From Convincing Trump to Bomb Iran?

For a long time now, Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton has wanted to intervene militarily in Iran. Back when the Obama administration was negotiating the Iranian nuclear agreement, he wrote that the better option was to bomb their nuclear facilities.

On Monday, the White House released this video of Bolton noting that this week marks the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

He made this very provocative claim:

Iran continues to seek nuclear weapons to intimidate peaceful people all around the globe, and ballistic missiles to use as delivery systems.

But according to recent testimony from Trump’s intelligence services, that is not true.

On Iran, Mr. Coats cited Tehran’s continued support of terrorism in Europe and the Middle East, including sponsoring Houthis in Yemen and Shiite militants in Iraq. He also said that he believed that Iranian hard-liners would continue to challenge centrist rivals.

But on one of Mr. Trump’s key assertions — that Iran had cheated on the spirit of the 2015 nuclear agreement even if it was temporarily following its terms — Mr. Coats said Tehran continued to comply with the deal even after the president announced in May that the United States would withdraw from it.

“We do not believe Iran is currently undertaking activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device,” Mr. Coats said.

It was after that testimony that the president mocked his own intelligence services and stated that he didn’t have confidence in their assessments.

So if the president believes that Iran “continues to seek nuclear weapons” and his national security advisor is chomping at the bit to bomb them, what is keeping us from going to war?

The most likely answer demonstrates that the world is a complicated place. One of Iran’s closest allies is Russia. It is doubtful that Trump’s handler in Moscow would green light military action against a country that is both a neighbor and friend. But boy, I’d sure like to be a fly on the wall when the president tries to explain that one to his national security advisor.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.