Thank You, George W. Bush

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Comments by former Vice President Dick Cheney this weekend suggest his boss, George W. Bush, may have done Israel one huge and unintentional favor.

In a Fox News interview, Cheney hinted that he pressed for military action to end Iran’s nuclear program, but was rebuffed by Bush.

“I was probably a bigger advocate of military action than any of my colleagues,” Cheney said.

Why was that a favor to Israel?

Consider that the Bush administration was already involved in two major wars – the longest in our national history, with no end in sight for either.

In both cases, ambitious objectives and  glib projections of quick victories quickly ran afoul of the hard realities of projecting American power in  far-away places. It’s hard to imagine war against Iran would have been conducted any more effectively, especially with U.S. forces already overextended in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I keep hearing predictions from Iran hawks that knocking out Iran’s nuclear facilities will be relatively straightforward using pinpoint bombing, drones and special forces strikes.

Where have I heard that before?

Then I talk to strategic experts like JINSA’s Shoshana Bryen, who’s  rarely accused of being a dove, and learn just how complex a successful Iran strike would be, and about some of the costs of a less-than-fully-successful military operation.

And some of those costs would come down on the head of Israel.

I’m not saying a successful military strike that ends Iran’s nuclear ambitions wouldn’t be a good thing for Israel, Europe and the United States. I am saying it’s hard to picture how an administration that declared victory in Iraq years prematurely and was starting to lose the long, grinding war in Afghanistan when it left office would do much better in Iran – and that results of failure would be terrible to consider, especially for the Jewish state.

So I’m guessing George W. Bush may have done Israel a huge favor when he restrained an eager Cheney.

Meanwhile, The Israel Project has released a new poll with some impressive results; some 81 percent of those surveyed say  Iran poses a serious threat to this country, with 84 percent agreeing with the statement that “Even with all the problems that America faces at home now, we must still work hard to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”

There’s no mention in the poll of the military option – probably a good idea, since the numbers could be radically different.

The closest the poll comes: a question about supporting “covert efforts by the US to destabilize Iran’s nuclear program.”  73 percent support that.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.