Sharon warned Bush about Iraq

Yossi Alpher writing in The Forward made some startling disclosures,

[..] But sometime prior to March 2003, Sharon told Bush privately in no uncertain terms what he thought about the Iraq plan. Sharon’s words — revealed here for the first time — constituted a friendly but pointed warning to Bush. Sharon acknowledged that Saddam Hussein was an “acute threat” to the Middle East and that he believed Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Yet according to one knowledgeable source, Sharon nevertheless advised Bush not to occupy Iraq. According to another source — Danny Ayalon, who was Israel’s ambassador to the United States at the time of the Iraq invasion, and who sat in on the Bush-Sharon meetings — Sharon told Bush that Israel would not “push one way or another” regarding the Iraq scheme.

According to both sources, Sharon warned Bush that if he insisted on occupying Iraq, he should at least abandon his plan to implant democracy in this part of the world. “In terms of culture and tradition, the Arab world is not built for democratization,” Ayalon recalls Sharon advising.

Be sure, Sharon added, not to go into Iraq without a viable exit strategy. And ready a counter-insurgency strategy if you expect to rule Iraq, which will eventually have to be partitioned into its component parts. Finally, Sharon told Bush, please remember that you will conquer, occupy and leave, but we have to remain in this part of the world. Israel, he reminded the American president, does not wish to see its vital interests hurt by regional radicalization and the spillover of violence beyond Iraq’s borders.

Sharon’s advice — reflecting a wealth of experience with Middle East issues that Bush lacked — was prescient. The American occupation of Iraq has ended up strengthening Iran, Israel’s number-one enemy, and enfranchising militant Shi’ite Islamists. A large part of Iraq is slipping into the Iranian orbit. Iraq’s western Anbar Province is increasingly dominated by militant jihadi Sunnis who could eventually threaten Syria and Jordan, the latter a strategic partner and geographic buffer for Israel.

All these developments harm vital Israeli interests. This past summer, Israel fought a war against two militant Islamist movements supported by Iran — Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza — that were enfranchised and legitimized in their anarchic countries thanks to Bush’s insistence on hasty and ill-advised democratic elections “in this part of the world.”

Had Sharon made his criticism public, citing the dangers posed to vital Israeli interests, might he have made a difference in the prewar debate in the United States and the world? Certainly he would have poured cold water on the postwar assertions of critics, like professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, who have fingered Israel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and pro-Israelis in the administration for instigating the war. Ayalon, incidentally, was directed by Sharon to warn all Israelis visiting Washington not to encourage the American scheme for war in Iraq, lest Israel be blamed for its failure.

There were, of course, neoconservative types in Israel who did encourage the United States to occupy Iraq and advocated democratic elections wherever possible in the Middle East. But there were also many Israelis, this writer included, who spoke out openly and publicly against the American scheme.

Even Aipac officials in Washington told visiting Arab intellectuals they would rather the United States deal militarily with Iran than with Iraq. And pro-Western Arab leaders like Egypt’s Husni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdallah were outspoken in their criticism of Bush’s war plans, even though they could fall back on far less credit and lobbying support in Washington than in Israel.

As a faithful ally of the United States, Israel is morally obligated to tell Washington when its policies are not only mistaken but also harmful. Many American Middle East policy initiatives since 2003 have indeed been detrimental to Israeli interests. When Bush ignored his advice about Iraq, Sharon should have found a respectful and friendly way to make his reservations public.

January 11, 2007 | 2 Comments »

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  1. Bush is either a clueless moron or an intelligent appeaser and coward. Watch him and his pitiful cabinet listen to the appeasers in the State and CIA and not take on Iran effectively but in a “cut off both our own testicles” approach to dealing with the mullahs nuclear threat instead of a decisive and devastating way.

    Pitiful fools. I hope they all get what they deserve.

  2. But I’m not sure if Iraq ever was the main target– if Bush is smart, then Iraq has been nothing more than a forward base for taking on the real enemy, Iran. The very worst outcome for this whole mess would be to take down the Sunni secular Saddam Hussein, but then fail to hit the Iranian nuclear sites and leave Iraq, defeated and weakened, with Iran moving in to take power in resource-rich Iraq. Iran is the most dangerous enemy here, that’s obvious, and I’m hoping that the Iraq war is at heart, a strategic move to establish a position for taking on the Iranian threat.

    What I fear here, is that Bush is so clueless that he actually believes his own rhetoric about “democratizing” Iraq and intends merely to appease Iran, passing the Iraq mess on to an exhausted successor who would just allow Iran to take control of Iraq, as a politically expedient move.

    I can’t help feeling pessimistic, but I worry that Bush Administration officials are really and truly afraid of Iran, and intend to offer up Israel as a sacrifice to appease the mullahs. In this, I suspect that Ahmedinejad might be instrumental. Far too many otherwise intelligent strategists have taken the stupid pill and are falling for the bait, that just removing Ahmedinejad would remove the mortal threat to the US and Israel in the region. I can’t keep count anymore of how many Kool-Aid drinking “conservatives,” appeasers at heart, play up stories of Ahmedinejad’s party faltering in recent elections, or Iranian Parliament members criticizing Ahmedinejad. “Look,” these idiots say, “no need to take on the Iran threat militarily. Let’s just continue to do the meek passive-aggressive thing against Iran with these pseudo-sanctions, then Ahmedinehad will fall, then yippee, Iran will give up its nuclear ambitions and no longer threaten the region.”

    Iran’s mortal threat to us, and the nuclear program in particular, long predate Ahmedinejad, and he is only a minor player in them. The mullahs hold the real power in Iran, and they are the driving force of the nuclear program. Even so-called “moderates” like Khatami, and “traditional conservatives” such as Rafsanjani, support the Iranian drive to become a nuclear power and agree with the hateful rhetoric against the US and Israel. The mullahs are diabolically clever, however, and they’re counting on Kadima and the Bush Administration being so intimidated by Iran that they’d happily accept the Trojan horse of Ahmedinejad being removed from power, sigh a false sigh of relief– and then appease Iran enough so that Iran goes nuclear within maybe a few months, tops. Ahmedinejad himself probably knows this, he knows his role as a pit bull and knows what he’s supposed to do.

    Here’s how I see it playing out– the US and Kadima continue to bluster against Iran, but the mullahs continue to laugh in their Mephistophelian scorn at us, knowing we’re probably too intimidated and too full of appeasers to actually take them on. The appeasers start to lose ground as the patriots and true strategists get angry at the pathetic policy toward Iran, and it looks as though Israel and the US are finally about to launch the coordinated air strikes and naval attacks to crush the Iranian nuclear program and teach them enough of a lesson that they don’t try it again. But then, suddenly, comes an announcement from Tehran that Ahmedinejad has been removed from power for “failing to clean up corruption.” So then, the idiot appeasers like Condi Rice and James Baker come out of the woodwork again, bloviating about how “Iran is no longer in the hands of fanatics” (which would be total and utter bullshit, but superficially plausible). The appeasers go 24/7 on the airwaves to push their snow job about how Iran has “moderated” and is dropping its nuclear program, and is no longer a threat.

    In Israel, Olmert and Kadima– still too pathetic and weak to actually take action against our mortal threat– then breathe a sigh of relief that they’ve been given cover and false reassurance. The appeasers in the USA get the upper hand in public opinion, while their appeasement counterparts in Israel naively and stupidly lay off Iran rather than striking their nuclear program when we can, while the window is still open. The window closes. Iran fires up the centrifuges it already has, keeps the uranium in a bit longer, constructs the warheads– and then conducts its first nuclear test well before 2007 is out. Israelis, especially new olim emigrate en masse, while aliyah from North America– the one hope for a demographically secure Israel– practically stops entirely. Israel dies a death from demographic strangulation, and Iran becomes mistress of the world’s most strategic region without ever firing a shot, due to the cowardice of Israel and the USA.

    We don’t have the luxury of waiting here. Iran is busily building up its anti-aircraft arsenal of Tor-M1 weapons from Russia, which are now more than half installed. The Iranians are also stocking up on missiles, while using the time buffer of this fruitless diplomacy to build up the ranks, training and weaponry of their Revolutionary Guards and other fanatical units. They’re training their pilots, strengthening their navy– IOW, the Iranians, unlike the idiots now running the US and Israel, are realistic enough to know that war is coming and that all this “diplomacy” is merely buying some extra time, and they are aggressively building up their military power for it. We have sufficient intelligence to hit the Iranian nuclear program hard and shut it down effectively for good, but the longer we wait, the more painful this necessary operation will become for both the United States and Israel. We have only a narrow window of opportunity, perhaps 2-3 months more, to hit Iran’s nuclear program effectively enough to stop it, while minimizing our own losses. Despite all the moronic trappings of the blather in the UN Security Council, one basic law of survival hasn’t changed– when war is inevitable, you have to strike your enemy immediately and before they are able to prepare effectively for war. If you hesitate, then your enemy will eat you alive. The survival of Israel and protection of fanaticism demands that we stop this fruitless hesitation.

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