You know you’re entering Wonderland when you read the Guardian’s exclusive story revealing that last May, when George Bush visited Israel for its 60th anniversary celebration, Ehud Olmert begged the president for permission to attack Iran. And Bush said “No!!” After spending the last seven years attacking various Arab countries, Bush told someone they couldn’t attack a nation in the region. Curiouser and curiouser!
Israel gave serious thought this spring to launching a military strike on Iran’s nuclear sites but was told by President George W Bush that he would not support it and did not expect to revise that view for the rest of his presidency, senior European diplomatic sources have told the Guardian.
…Ehud Olmert, used the occasion of Bush’s trip to Israel for the 60th anniversary of the state’s founding to raise the issue in a one-on-one meeting on May 14, the sources said. “He took it [the refusal of a US green light] as where they were at the moment, and that the US position was unlikely to change as long as Bush was in office”, they added.
I’m also astonished that Bush told Olmert he wouldn’t approve such an attack for the rest of his term. This is Bush the hawk we’re talking about after all. All I can say, is that this means that Dick Cheney has been completely sidelined from policymaking and that Condi is the one behind this. No matter how ineffectual she may be, she clearly has succeeded in putting on the brakes at key junctures like this. I suppose there is some small consolation in this.
Many Mideast analysts who read recently that the U.S. would provide 1,000 bunker buster bombs to Israel which could be used in a future operation against Iran, were deeply concerned that it meant that Bush was laying the groundwork for an Israeli assault. But Jonathan Steele’s article, if true, puts an entirely different, and somewhat more reassuring spin on it:
The US announced two weeks ago that it would sell Israel 1,000 bunker-busting bombs. The move was interpreted by some analysts as a consolation prize for Israel after Bush told Olmert of his opposition to an attack on Iran. But it could also enhance Israel’s attack options in case the next US president revives the military option.
Steele also points out that Bush’s refusal to sanction an Israeli attack would mean there is little danger of an October (or November or December for that matter) surprise in which the U.S. tells Israel to go ahead with an attack while Bush is president and before a new one takes office. To his credit, Bush is finally behaving in a temperate manner and wisely leaving Iran to his successor.
If anything though, this increases the gravity of the current election if you do not want to see an Israeli attack on Iran. Given his rhetoric, John McCain without doubt WOULD sanction such an attack and we can expect one should he become president.
Thanks to my Guardian editor, Richard Adams for bringing this story to my attention.