February 18, 2005


George Bush has made a slip of the lip: departing from his cue cards, the president greenlighted an attack by Israel on Iran, saying the U.S. would back the attack. The news is front-page in tomorrow's European papers (like Le Monde) just days before Bush's first European trip of his second term--but U.S. media haven't yet picked up on this explosive declaration.

As the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph reports today under the headline "America would back Israel attack on Iran":

"Asked whether he would back Israel if it raided Teheran's nuclear facilities, Mr Bush first expressed cautious solidarity with European efforts, led by Britain, France and Germany, to negotiate with Iran.

"But he quickly qualified himself, adding that all nations should be concerned about whether Iran could make nuclear weapons. 'Clearly, if I was the leader of Israel and I'd listened to some of the statements by the Iranian ayatollahs that regarded the security of my country, I'd be concerned about Iran having a nuclear weapon as well. And in that Israel is our ally, and in that we've made a very strong commitment to support Israel, we will support Israel if her security is threatened.'

"His comments appeared to be a departure from the administration's line that there are no plans to attack at present and that Washington backs European diplomatic efforts. The remarks may have reflected Mr Bush's personal thinking on an issue causing deep concern in Washington.

"Moments later, Mr Bush was asked another question on Iran and appeared to return to his script - this time emphasizing the need for a diplomatic effort...."

This revelatory statement by Bush signals the triumph of the neo-cons--now that the principal roadblock to their designs, Colin Powell, has left office--in the internal administration debate over what to do about Iran. As DIRELAND noted last September, the plan for an Israeli attack on Iran was behind the AIPAC spy ring's espionage which obtained classified U.S. memos on Iran:

"Some of the neo-cons were, like Sharon and Mossad, so ideologically obsessed with an attack on Iran that they were willing to go to any lengths, including espionage, to help Israel get it done. But with the Bush first-strike doctrine having been so bellicosely reiterated at the Republicans' Convention--by everyone from the president to Gen. Tommy Franks' Rove-vetted speech--if, as now seems likely, Bush wins and no longer has to face the voters again, the Target: Iran policy may move to an aggressive new level. And the Likud government is the tail wagging the dog."

The perhaps unintentional Bush revelation shows how Iran is at the top of his limited brain-pan--no doubt because his erstwhile friend, Vladimir Putin, has just made clear Russia's inalterable decision to help Iran with its nuclear program, as the Washington Post reports. With Bush and Putin scheduled to meet within days, it appears Bush--having this agenda at the top of his tiny mind--has given his handlers heartburn by revealing he's decided to play the Israeli card in part as an attempt to intimidate the Russians into abandoning their help-Iran-with-nukes plan. (Remember when Bush told us he'd "looked into Putin's soul" and found him to be a democrat and man of peace? Wrong on both counts, our soul-envisioning president, wasn't he?)

In any case, in European capitals Bush's specific targeting of Iran in his State of the Union speech was interpreted as a pounding of the war drums. Despite Bush's praise for the diplomatic efforts of Germany, France, and other EU countries to negotiate a solution to the Iran nuclear proliferation problem, the power of neo-con ideology and the imperial will of a president with a militaro-missionary attitude toward international affairs (as he made clear in his famous interview with Bob Woodward, recounted in Woodward's book Plan of Attack) appear to have triumphed over European insistence that the world must find a  political sortie to the problem posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Bush's State of the Union speech, of course, played right into the hands of Iran's hardliners, and undermined the attempts of reformist Iranian civil society to foster a less paranoid world-view than that of the ayatollahs. A U.S.-backed attack by Israel on Iran will have seismic consequents far outside the confines of the ancient Persian nation, further spurring the Islamist fundamentalists' ability to recruit. Moreover, with the Iranian-backed Shiites and their allies in Iraq now having won an absolute majority in the elections there, such an attack would inevitably push the new highly-religious Iraqi political leadership--and volatile Iraqi public opinion, already overwhelmingly opposed to the bloody U.S. occupation--toward establishment of a hard-line, Islamic state.

Dark days appear to be ahead.

P.S. Tonight's edition of Belgian public television's main news program broadcast an exclusive White House interview with Bush in advance of the president's arrival in Brussels that contains another embarassing Bush moment. Asked whether differences on Iraq would cloud his visit with the Belgian government, Bush launched into an anecdote about his trip to a chocoloate merchant on his last Belgian excursion. Then, as his attractive female interviewer thanked him and stood up to leave, Bush--apparently thinking the cameras were already off--muttered with a sly look and salacious grin, "You have beautiful eyes!" This on-air flirt, which could be seen Stateside where I caught it, on the international francophone channel TV 5 (of which Belgian TV is a co-sponsor), is being replayed on European television, but -- since our linguistically challenged U.S. TV honchos don't bother with frog-speaking telly--no stateside network has yet picked up Bush's cruising of the Belgian correspondent. Laura, needless to say, wasn't in the room for this "family values" moment...

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Posted by: jake | May 10, 2005 9:42:35 AM

Another blogger today hit the nail *squarely* on the head:

Frankly, there’s a regrettable tendency (on both the left and right) to attribute to malicious conspiracy what can more easily be attributed to simple incompetence.

The hallmark of this Administration appears to be incompetence.

Sadly, the Right is (generally) unwilling to admit this, thus the price for this next war will be higher than Iraq - in both monetary and human terms.

When enough grandkids are thrown on the altar of Bush worship, maybe some folks will wise up. Doubt it though. For a party with an Elephant for a logo, they sure are forgetful.

Posted by: M. Douglas Wray | Feb 26, 2005 4:20:56 PM

An attack on Iran via a proxy (Israel or a re-armed Iraq) sounds much more plausible than a U.S. invasion at this point. If a U.S. invasion was immanent, I'd expect more administration leaks on the horrors of the Iranian government (how the government hates democracy and abuses warm fuzzy puppies and so on).

Posted by: Karlo | Feb 24, 2005 5:42:57 PM

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