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Bush, volevo attaccare Iran e Siria

George Bush rivela nella sue “Memorie” in uscita negli Usa che nei suoi piani era previsto un attacco all’Iran e un altro alla Siria. Articolo anticipazione  del Guardian di oggi lunedì.

George Bush’s memoirs reveal how he considered attacks on Iran and Syria

• Bush admits: Tony Blair was my closest foreign ally
• Waterboarding ‘helped to break up terror plots in UK’
• Iraq was the right thing to do, says former president

Ewen MacAskill and Chris McGreal in Washington, Monday 8 November 2010 20.54 GMT

George Bush ordered the Pentagon to plan an attack on Iran‘s nuclear facilities and considered a covert attack on Syria, the former president reveals in his memoirs.

Bush, in the 497-page Decision Points, a copy of which was obtained by the Guardian in advance of its publication in the US tomorrow, writes: “I directed the Pentagon to study what would be necessary for a strike.”

He adds: “This would be to stop the bomb clock, at least temporarily.” Such an attack would almost certainly have produced a conflagration in the Middle East that could have seen Iran retaliating by blocking oil supplies and unleashing militias and sympathisers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

Bush also discussed with his national security team either an air strike or a covert special forces raid on an alleged Syrian nuclear facility at the request of Israel.

The book, which is published in the US tomorrow, seeks to rebuild Bush’s reputation, giving his side of the story on the most controversial issues of his presidency, which include Iraq, Afghanistan, hurricane Katrina, the Wall Street meltdown and torture at Guantánamo.

Bush justifies the use of waterboarding in his book saying that the controversial interrogation technique used on three detainees helped break up terrorist plots to attack Heathrow airport, Canary Wharf, US diplomatic missions and a number of targets in the US.

He writes: “Whatever the verdict on my presidency, I’m comfortable with the fact that I won’t be around to hear it. That’s a decision point only history will reach.”

In the memoirs Bush:

• Describes Tony Blair as his closest foreign ally.

• Admits mistakes over Iraq, but regards it as the right thing to have done.

• Defends the Guantánamo Bay detention centre and the use of torture, such as waterboarding, to extract information from alleged terrorists, saying that it helped save American lives.

• Accepts he took “too long” to make decisions over the disaster that engulfed New Orleans after it was struck by hurricane Katrina five years ago, killing more than 1,800 people, but says the blame lies with other people.

In a book largely lacking in personal insight, Bush says he is most angry at accusations that he was indifferent to the plight of the victims of Katrina because so many are black. “The suggestion that I was a racist because of the response to Katrina represented an all-time low. I told Laura at the time that it was the worst moment of my presidency. I feel the same way today,” Bush writes.

On Iran, some of his advisers argued that destroying “the regime’s prized project” of its nuclear facility would help the Iranian opposition, while others worried it would stir up Iranian nationalism against the US.

“Military action would always be on the table, but it would be my last resort,” he said. He added that he discussed all the options with Tony Blair, who in his memoirs published earlier this year revealed he leaned towards military action.

Bush also discussed a request from the Israeli prime minister at the time, Ehud Olmert, to bomb a suspected Syrian nuclear plant. Bush convened his national security team to discuss an air strike or a covert raid. He says of the latter: “We studied the idea seriously, but the CIA and the military concluded it would be too risky to slip a team into and out of Syria.” He said no to a disappointed Olmert. The Israelis then did it themselves in September 2007. Bush’s first call after 9/11 was with Blair. “The conversation helped cement the closest friendship I would form with any foreign leader,” Bush writes.

Blair is referred to at various points as “Tony”, whereas leaders such as the French president, Jacques Chirac, who kept France out of the Iraq war, is referred to simply as “Chirac”.

Bush confirms that planning for an invasion of Iraq began within two months of 9/11 – but insists that war was not inevitable, even in the final weeks before the invasion. In the memoir Bush also defends the torture at Guantánamo. “No doubt the procedure was tough, but medical experts assured the CIA that it did no lasting harm,” writes Bush. “I knew that an interrogation programme this sensitive and controversial would one day become public. When it did, we would open ourselves up to criticism that America had compromised our moral values. I would have preferred that we get the information another way. But the choice between security and values was real.”

Bush is critical of John McCain, who unsuccessfully ran against him in 2000 for the Republican nomination and against Barack Obama for the presidency in 2008. In the midst of the latter campaign, with the banks and the financial industry falling apart, Bush called Obama and McCain to the White House for an emergency meeting at McCain’s request.

McCain was trailing in the polls, but Bush thought the financial crisis offered him a chance of a comeback. He could make the case he was the better candidate for the times, experience and judgment over youth and charisma.

At the White House, Bush says politely he was “puzzled when McCain passed up the chance to speak”.


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