The Current

U.S.-Iran war unlikely: John Bolton is all bark, no bite, says columnist

Should the world be bracing for a U.S.-Iran war? We hear from the experts who have been keeping a close eye on the escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran.

'There is no serious plans for an invasion' of Iran by the U.S., Eli Lake asserts

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, shown listening to U.S. President Donald Trump, has espoused hawkish views on Iran for years. Bolton was also a chief architect of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

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Fears that U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton could be pushing the United States into a conflict with Iran are overblown, according to Eli Lake, who covers national security and foreign policy.

"I think that a lot of the focus on John Bolton is really misplaced," the Bloomberg opinion columnist told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

The political commentator said that while Bolton's stance on Iran is well-known and extreme, having advocated for bombing its nuclear program, U.S. President Donald Trump seems reluctant. In the past, Trump has said he is not pushing for war with Iran. 

"All of that is true, but the president is Donald Trump, who does not like Middle Eastern wars and doesn't like nation-building in general and the kinds of Iraq war," he said.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has been quoted as saying his country does not want a war. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Washington-Tehran tensions have been escalating since Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal with other world powers in the spring of 2018. Earlier this month, the U.S. deployed a navy carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf amid mounting White House warnings about aggressive Iranian activity.

Recent cryptic tweets between Trump and Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have added fuel to the speculation circulating about an impending war between the two countries. Lake said that there is no cause for concern of such magnitude.

"I don't think that the Trump administration … can be compared in any meaningful way to the George W. Bush administration in the months and year leading up to the Iraq war. There is no serious plans for an invasion," Lake said.

"Historically, the Iranians are willing to back down when they feel that there is a kind of existential risk to their regime."

To discuss the rising tensions between Washington and Tehran, Tremonti spoke to:

  • Houchang Hassan-Yari, political science professor at Royal Military College of Canada.

  • Eli Lake, Bloomberg columnist.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Produced by Jessica Linzey, Rachel Levy-McLaughlin and Cameron Perrier. 


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