Iran,  Media

Did anyone notice that the Bush administration didn’t bomb Iran?

Guest post by Judeosphere

Somewhat lost amid the media frenzy surrounding the Israel-Gaza conflict, the New York Times reported in January:

President Bush deflected a secret request by Israel last year for specialized bunker-busting bombs it wanted for an attack on Iran’s main nuclear complex….[And] while Mr. Bush was extensively briefed on options for an overt American attack on Iran’s facilities, he never instructed the Pentagon to move beyond contingency planning, even during the final year of his presidency…. Mr. Bush was convinced by top administration officials, led by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, that any overt attack on Iran would probably prove ineffective, lead to the expulsion of international inspectors and drive Iran’s nuclear effort further out of view. Mr. Bush and his aides also discussed the possibility that an airstrike could ignite a broad Middle East war in which America’s 140,000 troops in Iraq would inevitably become involved.

Well, that was news to me, since for the last three or four years I’ve been reading nonstop speculation that a U.S. attack on Iran—prodded by the all-powerful “Israel Lobby”—was imminent. (I guess the Elders dropped the ball on this one.) Those commentators who claim that the United States can never distinguish between its own national interests and those of Israel might want to rethink their conclusions. (Hello, Walt and Mearhseimer?)

By way of reminder, here are just some of the expert opinions from the last couple of years:

In March 2008, US News & World Report published a piece, “Six Signs the U.S. May Be Headed for War in Iran”, which noted: “The resignation of the top U.S. military commander for the Middle East is setting off alarms that the Bush administration is intent on using military force to stop Iran’s moves toward gaining nuclear weapons.”

The Cato Institute’s Leon Hadar wrote in February 2008:

Since the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran was issued at the end of the last year, much of the reporting and analysis in the MSM has been promoting the conventional wisdom in Washington: That a U.S. attack on Iran is now ‘out’…. In fact, based on Bush’s behavior since then—increasing the number of U.S. troops [in Iraq] contrary to the recommendation for establishing a timeline for a withdrawal—members of the press should be considering the possibility that he is just as likely to act against Iran as he was before.

David Froomkin, a Washington Post columnist, wrote in August 2007:

A small group of neoconservatives is ever-more-loudly beating the drums for military action against Iran and getting a lot of attention….far from being ignored—not to mention laughed out of town—these neoconservatives are getting their message out largely unrefuted….”To the extent that I’m worried—and I am worried,” says Paul R. Pillar, formerly the CIA’s top Middle East analysis and now a Georgetown University professor, it’s not about what President Bush and Vice President Cheney are hearing from experts—it’s about “what is going through the psyche of those two individuals.” That’s a real concern: Pillar says he fears that one morning he’ll wake up to hear on the radio that U.S. warplanes are headed back from Iran.

I could spend hours citing the commentary from the various moonbat websites, but this one stands out as my absolute favorite: Writing at, Jorge Hirsch, a professor of physics at the University of California San Diego, claimed that the avian flu scare was deliberately engineered by the Bush administration to provide a casus belli to attack Iran:

Iran’s Shahab missiles can reach Israel but not Western Europe or the U.S. But Iran’s birds can. They can carry a weapon that will potentially cause 150 million deaths, as the media have been pointing out so conveniently…..Why are the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense so deeply involved in preparations for an impending bird-flu pandemic? Simply because the H5N1 disaster scenario lends itself to a casus belli against Iran….All that is missing is the bioterrorism connection, which the Bush administration is about to kindly provide. Let’s continue with the [Bush administration’s] scenario: Dual-use facilities disguised as Iranian chicken farms are being used to test how fast the virus can be transmitted from a wild duck to a chicken and on to the humans handling the chicken, and from them to their family and friends. In the last few weeks, a breakthrough was achieved, and the perfect strain was finally found. Iranian ecologists are currently at work in the Iranian wetlands to deploy the mutated virus among wild ducks, swans, and geese, in preparation for the launching of the birds along their migratory paths toward the Western world.

And let’s not forget the parallel-universe speculations during the U.S. presidential campaign: If McCain was elected, Bush would attack Iran as a “parting gift” so that the incoming president wouldn’t have to be held accountable for that decision. Or if Obama was elected, Bush would bomb Iran because Obama wouldn’t pursue that option—and destroying Iran’s nuclear capabilities would be Bush’s greatest final legacy.

To date, I haven’t seen any of these pundits revise their commentaries in the aftermath of the New York Times report. Indeed, the most significant point of the article—that the United States refused to provide support for a massive Israeli military action—seems to have gone through one ear and out the other.

It’s also worth noting that, according to Technorati, only 50 blogs linked to the NYT article. One blog that was noticeably silent was Juan Cole’s Informed Comment. He never acknowledged the NYT article, although he did have this to say on February 5, 2009:

It is rumored that among the main shapers of Obama’s Iran policy will be Dennis Ross, the head of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the think tank of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. During Ross’s tenure there, the WINEP website carried a call to bomb Iran; a paper arguing that nothing bad would happen if the US did bomb Iran…. Turning Iran policy over to the Israel lobbies, the major agitators for a US war on Iran, is a very bad idea, and if this goes forward Obama will be signaling that there will not in fact be a new US-Iran relationship.

And the beat goes on….