'Downright reckless': Bush's foreign policy advisers decry Obama's Iran deal

For the Jeb Bush team, which is mostly made up of George W Bush’s old roster, the jury may still be out on Iraq – but the verdict has already come in on Iran

When in February Jeb Bush announced 21 foreign policy advisers, a list that included 17 people from his brother George W Bush’s team, critics scoffed. Why, they reasoned, would voters invite the architects of the Iraq war to resume control of US foreign policy?

The premise underlying that criticism – that the Iraq war was a mistake – is not shared by Jeb Bush’s advisers. As former George W Bush deputy national security adviser and current Jeb Bush adviser Meghan O’Sullivan wrote in a 2013 editorial: “Given the several still-undetermined variables and the wide variety of plausible outcomes, it is too early to bring final judgment on American efforts in Iraq even 10 years on.”

For the Jeb Bush team, the jury may still be out on Iraq – but the verdict has already come in on the most recent watershed US move in the Middle East: last week’s deal to ease sanctions on Iran in exchange for nuclear concessions.

The Iran nuclear deal is bad and dangerous, the Bush advisers said this week. Jeb Bush distilled his team’s views in a statement released on Tuesday.

“This isn’t diplomacy – it is appeasement,” Bush said. “The people of Iran, the region, Israel, America and the world deserve better than a deal that consolidates the grip on power of the violent revolutionary clerics who rule Tehran with an iron fist.”

Here’s what members of the Bush team have said individually about the deal, since its announcement on Monday and in the weeks that led up to the announcement:

Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense under George W Bush, on Fox News:

A bad deal is much worse than nothing. I don’t think we should let up on that until we really have something that’s worth bringing home, and I don’t think we do yet … They need it much more than we do. We are acting like the party that needs it so desperately … We have them on the ropes and we ought to keep them there until we get what we need.

Kristen Silverberg, stationed in Baghdad in 2003 as adviser to Paul Bremer, quoted in a New York Times report:

President Obama is sacrificing a decade’s worth of sanctions for a deal that grants Iran rights to a vast nuclear infrastructure. It’s part of his effort to pull the US back from key challenges in the Middle East. It’s not diplomacy. It’s retreat.

Lincoln Diaz-Balart, former Republican congressman, on Twitter:

pic.twitter.com/pFoUNYvlfo

— Lincoln Diaz-Balart (@LincolnDBalart) July 14, 2015

Stephen Hadley, national security adviser to George W Bush, and Paula Dobriansky, undersecretary of state for global affairs under George W Bush, in a letter from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy:

Even granting this policy approach, we fear that the current negotiations, unless concluded along the lines outlined in this paper and buttressed by a resolute regional strategy, may fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a “good” agreement.

Michael Hayden, former NSA and CIA director, on PBS:

I think it does do some really good things for a period of about a decade, but it does legitimate an industrial-strength Iranian nuclear program. As we get to the sunset years, even assuming success across the board for the agreement, as we get to the sunset years, Iran is very well-positioned to break out if they choose to do so.

We have legitimated a program until this morning that was illegal, that was in violation of UN security council resolutions.

We have brought Iran back into the family of nations. It’s now no longer a renegade state. The sanctions end, they become rich, and none of those other activities about which we are very concerned Iran has been conducting, none of those have stopped.

John Hannah, national security adviser to Dick Cheney, on Bloomberg News:

The Middle East will be on a nuclear hair trigger and we’ll be in an even worse situation than we are now”

... and in Foreign Policy:

There seems a high likelihood that we’re setting ourselves up for some extremely dangerous, even catastrophic, outcomes – ones that would make the deal being contemplated not just risky, but downright reckless.

Tom Ridge, former secretary of homeland security, on Fox News:

I think the new chant in the streets of Iran will be, ‘Death to America, but let’s cash that $100m check first’

Contributor

Tom McCarthy in New York

The GuardianTramp

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