Friday, March 23, 2018

John Bolton on Cuba


John Bolton, President Trump’s new national security advisor, has some history on Cuba.

In the year before the United States launched the 2003 Iraq war, which was predicated on erroneous (and some would say politicized) intelligence assessments about Iraq developing weapons of mass destruction, John Bolton was trying to make the same allegation about Cuba.

The problem was that Bolton’s allegation about Cuba – that it had a biological weapons “program” – was not supported by the U.S. intelligence community. When State Department analyst Christian Westermann corrected a 2002 Bolton speech draft to reflect then-current assessments, Bolton tried to have the analyst relieved of his duties. To his credit, Westermann and his superiors held firm. (See coverage here and here.)

Later, in 2004, the U.S. intelligence community re-assessed the Cuba situation in light of the Iraq debacle. The new assessment noted the obvious – that Cuba, with its substantial biotechnology industry, had the technical capacity to engage in weapons research – but held that the intelligence agencies’ unanimous view was that “it was unclear whether Cuba has an active biological weapons effort now, or even had one in the past.”

Apart than that, he has conventional views on Cuba among many Republicans. When President Obama announced his opening to Cuba, he called it an “unmitigated defeat for the United States...an economic lifeline to the regime precisely at the time when we should be increasing pressure.”

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