Bolton’s book is a brutal, searing indictment … of Bolton

And there you have it. Bolton didn’t like the Iran nuclear deal—wouldn’t like any nuclear deal, or deal of any sort, with Iran—because it was with Iran. For Bolton, the only sound policy toward Iran is regime change, meaning any other policy is unacceptable. He had an ally in this view with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—and, it seemed, with Trump. But then, toward the end of the book (and the end of Bolton’s tenure), Trump started saying he wanted to make a new deal with the Iranians; he thought that the Iranians wanted to make a deal too (probably untrue, unless Trump lifted sanctions, which he wasn’t willing to do). Bolton writes that he opposed the notion so fervently that he planned to resign if Trump so much as scheduled talks with Iran’s foreign minister.

Bolton gives away the game when he complains, at one point, that the Iranians were about to violate the nuclear deal. The violation took place in response to, and several months after, Trump’s withdrawal from the accord. But if the deal was as “wretched” as Bolton claims, why was he concerned that Iran was about to violate it? It’s all a pretense; for Bolton, the deal was bad only because it left the regime standing.