Tucker Carlson and Neocon John Bolton tussled on Fox News tonight during Bolton's audition to replace H.R. McMaster, as has been rumored. It was rather contentious.
Bolton started this back and forth with the declaration that "we are in a better place today for Israel having bombed Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor in 1981" as well as bombing "the reactor that North Korea was building in Syria in September, 2007."
Tucker observed, "You've called for regime change in Iraq, Libya, Iran and Syria. In the first two countries, we've had regime change and obviously it's been -- I'd say a disaster."
As you might imagine, Bolton disagreed. "No, I don't agree with that. To argue that, you'd have to argue --, let's take Iraq to begin with, you have to argue that everything that followed from the fall of Saddam Hussein followed inevitably, solely, and unalterably from the decision to overthrow it and that's simply not true."
Tucker tried again. "I would never argue that," he countered. "You just said that Iran is the single greatest threat to us and to that region. I think you'll concede that Saddam was the greatest counterbalance to Iran and they were empowered by his fall. I think it's fair to say if you think Iran is the real threat, it's kind of hard to defend that decision, right?"
Without a ready answer at his fingertips, Bolton went on the attack.
"I think your analysis is simpleminded, frankly," Bolton countered. The Iranian threat which stems from the revolution of 1979 was underway quite apart from what Saddam Hussein was doing. The Iranians tried to get nuclear weapons for 25 years."
Which, of course, did not even address Carlson's question, much less answer it.
"You don't think Saddam Hussein made Iran stronger?" Tucker asked, incredulously.
"No, the fall of Saddam did not make Iran stronger. ultimately was the withdrawal of American forces in 2011."
(When in doubt, blame Obama. Also argue for perpetual war)
Tucker, to his credit, was not having it. "You're the only person I've met who thinks that. What would you say if you could sum up one lesson from what has happened in Iraq?"
"The overthrow of Saddam Hussein, that military action was a resounding success," Bolton answered without irony. "I think the mistakes that were made subsequently, setting up the coalition provisional authority and others that followed from it are lessons about what to do after a regime is overthrown."
After relying on the simplistic argument that it was all Obama's fault, Bolton condescended to Carlson, concluding, "The point I think you need to understand is that life is complicated in the Middle East. When you say the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was a mistake, it's simplistic."
At that point, it just turned into a three-line back and forth pissing contest, which neither of them won.
I will say this: At least Tucker Carlson challenged Neocon John's warmongering ways. Let's hope this was an audition for a role in the White House which Bolton failed, because that man should be nowhere near matters of national security.