Bush criticizing Obama foreign policy on Iran nuclear deal defines chutzpah

On Saturday night, the 44th president, Barack Obama, delivered some funny one-liners at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Washington. More than 2,000 miles away, the 43rd president, George W. Bush, delivered some unintentionally funny lines of his own.

According to a story in The New York Times, Bush told a closed-door meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas that lifting any sanctions against Iran would be a mistake and would lead to chaos in the Middle East.

These were not intended to be ironic remarks.

The man whose administration lied about reasons to start the Iraq War, basically destroying that country, and whose policies allowed for the rise of the Islamic State honestly seems to think he’s got some expertise on matters in the region, and that the rest of us should listen to him.

Although the meeting was held behind closed doors, about a dozen people repeated Bush’s comments afterward, the Times reported.

Bush — again, without a hint of irony — told the meeting that Obama was being naïve in pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran. Remember, the Bush administration:

  • Launched two massive wars that destabilized the entire Middle East.
  • Spent more than $2 trillion in American taxpayer money on the Iraq War — a war in which more than 4,000 U.S. troops were killed and more than 30,000 were injured, and a war in which probably half a million Iraqis died.
  • Negotiated a Status of Forces Agreement on when U.S. forces should leave Iraq. George W. Bush is hardly one who should be claiming that Obama left “too soon,” when Bush sealed the SOFA deal.
  • Ignored Iran for eight years, allowing the country to ratchet up its nuclear capabilities. The only reason Iran is willing to talk to the U.S. and five other countries now about limiting nuclear power is the imposition of crippling economic sanctions that didn’t start until the United Nations finally took action in 2007. Those sanctions increased only after Obama became president.

Another story on Bush’s talk, this one from Bloomberg View online, told a similar tale.  “You think the Middle East is chaotic now?” Bush is quoted as saying. “Imagine what it looks like for our grandchildren. That’s how Americans should view the deal.”

Any reported quotes might not be verbatim, as they were given by attendees after the fact. Still, why does anyone think that George W. Bush has any credibility on foreign policy in the Middle East?

Let’s ask the American people. Hmm — two different new polls say that 58 and 59 percent of Americans back the outlines of the proposed Iran nuclear agreement, even while those questioned still have doubts. And 77 percent of voters say they want to see a negotiated settlement to the nuclear crisis rather than military intervention.

That’s something that the 47 Republicans who signed the ill-fated letter to Iran — the one written by Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas trying to sabotage the Iran nuclear talks — should think about. Despite the military solutions proposed by Cotton and other neocons, Americans don’t want to jump into another war.

Let’s remember again exactly how and why the Middle East got into such chaos. Iraq was run by the dictator Saddam Hussein with a powerful army. When the Bush administration made up its reasons to invade, officials such as Vice President Dick Cheney assured Americans that the war would be over in a matter of weeks and that the U.S. would be greeted as “liberators.”

Instead, the U.S. totally destabilized the country, broke up the army — the entity that was holding the country together — and allowed terrorists to enter Iraq. Remember, there was no al Qaeda in Iraq before the Iraq War. Now those forces have morphed into ISIS. Oh, and many of the Sunni military leaders who were dismissed from power when the army broke up, and who were kept out of the power structure under Iraq’s Shia-backed government under former Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki, are fighting for ISIS, too. So they have imported terrorists and disgruntled military professionals.

The biggest political outcome of the Iraq War in the region was to strengthen Iran and the groups it does back, such as Hezbollah. Not exactly the outcome the Bush administration was shooting for, I’d guess.

The Bloomberg story concludes: “For George W. Bush, the remarks in Vegas … revealed that he takes little responsibility for the policies that he put in place that contributed to the current state of affairs.”

Actually, chutzpah doesn’t even begin to cover it.

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