John Bolton Knows a Coup When He Sees One
Only very smart people can do them, you see.
Something I think about a lot is specific jobs whose purpose is not at all what most people who do them pretend it is. The classic example of this is “human resources,” which everyone who works in HR will tell you is there to keep employees happy, while everyone who has been forced to interact with HR in a serious context will tell you its purpose is really making sure the company doesn’t get sued. Another good example of this is “ambassador,” a job which is often confused in the popular imagination as one of peacemaking and diplomacy, but which in practice is largely responsible for advancing a country’s imperial aims. It’s also a job that you can just buy outright if you give the president enough money or the right favor, at least in the U.S., but that’s another story.
On that note, here’s former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.
It’s amusing to watch the right wing jumping on Bolton for both disparaging and defending President Trump in this appearance. It’s also amusing to watch CNN repeatedly book John Bolton given the things he has done and now freely admitted to, but here we are. What’s funniest to me about this clip is the coups—or not coups—implicated here.
At least one of the coups Bolton is talking about is the half-hearted attempt to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in 2019, when Juan Guaidó, a member of the Venezuelan legislature, attempted to incite a revolution based on allegations that Maduro cooked the books in the country’s 2018 presidential election. The Trump administration and the usual consortium of Western powers backed and immediately recognized Guaidó as the rightful leader of Venezuela.
According to Bolton’s logic, this attempted coup must not have been planned by a smart person, as it failed miserably and Maduro is still in power while Guaidó currently mopes around pretending to be president and occasionally fending off arrest attempts by Maduro’s security forces. (There was also an even funnier and lamer attempt that can barely even be called a “coup” in which a bunch of mercenaries with weird, tenuous ties to the Trump administration got shot or arrested in a boat off Venezuelan waters.) Bolton was Trump’s National Security Advisor during all this and has famously had a hard-on for invading or coup-ing countries for his entire career.
This is all good context, because in the U.S., what you had was a failed coup based on allegations of a rigged election launched by a group of extremely dumb people that also failed miserably. (There are some finer points to debate vis-à-vis the legitimacy of Maduro win versus Biden’s win but Katherine will get mad at me if we go too far into this at 5 p.m.) Bolton’s point, essentially, is that what Trump did can’t be a coup because it was too dumb, not like the smart coups that he did. Nice! It also had the added bonus of riling up the small cottage industry of coup-doers and coup-knowers, which led us to this succinct dunk by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
The moral of this story, as always, is that John Bolton is a violent maniac, and while it’s good that Jake Tapper got him to inadvertently admit this on air, it’s still incredibly embarrassing that Tapper invited him on air in the first place. If only someone smart would do another coup at CNN.