Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Life

What if Bush Decides To Attack Iran on the Way Out of Office?

Ha’aretz’s Ari Shavit poses the following hypothetical:

In November, after Senator Barack Obama becomes president-elect of the United States, outgoing president George W. Bush inflicts a severe blow on Iran. That could take the form of a naval siege, the flexing of American military muscle, or even an all-out air strike targeting Iran’s nuclear program.

Under ordinary circumstances, people would reject out of hand such a wild scenario. The American public does not support the idea of opening a second front in the Middle East, and America’s political, military and intelligence establishments are fearful. A military move, even a semi-military one, carried out by an outgoing president would be unprecedented and illegitimate; it would be perceived as the final insane trumpet call of a thoroughly off-the-wall administration with a committed religious outlook.

He thinks that this scenario may have “little likelihood” of happening, but, he adds, “little likelihood is not zero likelihood.”

The upshot of confronting Iran? Shavit writes:

In the long run, such a wild scenario would be good for Israel just as it would be good for America. A nuclear Iran would endanger Israel’s survival, Middle Eastern stability and the West’s well-being. On the other hand, an Iran deprived of its nuclear weapons would ensure both Israel’s future and a stable Middle East and would allow the West to continue maintaining its values and lifestyle for a considerable period of time.

However, in the short run, this wild scenario is fraught with danger. There could be a serious intelligence blunder; there could be a serious military blunder. In any event, the Iran of the ayatollahs is a power with a religiously committed leadership; it is very clever and powerful. If pushed into a corner, it might prefer to go out with a bang. Nobody today can say for sure what would be the nature and intensity of such a bang.

Hat tip: JTA’s Uriel Heilman, who thinks this scenario ain’t gonna happen.

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.