Apparently taking a pause from his painting portraits of immigrants and other "everyday heroes" from the comfort of his Crawford ranch as well as posh Dallas neighborhood home, the former US president responsible for the utter disaster, death and chaos that was the Iraq War has issued some rare remarks on current US policy in the Middle East at a moment of multiple crises.
George W. Bush gave a Fox News interview which was ostensibly geared toward promoting his new book, "Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants" - and he took the opportunity to bash Iran as the continued source of all ills in the region, particularly related to the Gaza crisis which has witnessed the highest death toll since the 2014 war. He also commented on the impending restoration of the Iran nuclear deal, which he suggested is "dangerous" for regional stability.
Conveniently ignoring his own very considerable contribution to much of the Middle East being in smolders and the throes of conflict (for one, his toppling of Saddam is widely considered the precursor and a major catalyst in both the pro-Iranian Shia political ascendency in Baghdad and the later rise of ISIS), he told Fox when asked about the soaring Israeli-Palestinian violence that what "you're seeing playing out is Iranian influence targeted toward Israel" - a reference to the Islamic Republic's well-known support to Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
"I think the best approach with regard to Iran is to understand that their influence is dangerous for world peace, that they are very much involved with extremist movements in Lebanon and Syria and Yemen, and they are aiming to spread their influence," he continued.
On the nuclear deal and Vienna talks, which are about to enter the final round of negotiations next week and as top EU officials say an agreement is imminent and almost certain, Bush commented:
"Any deal that is done has got to not only focus on its nuclear capabilities, but also its influence in the Middle East," Bush continued. "And you know, any deal, you’ve got to keep in mind the dangers of an aggressive Iran to our allies, and to stability, so it has to be a comprehensive look."
Most Republicans, and especially neocons like Bush, have long opposed the 2015 Obama-brokered deal which allows Iran a heavily monitored nuclear energy program. They are further strongly pushing for breaking off the Vienna process, seeing in it a deceptive "cover" under which Tehran will pursue nukes (which has also long been Israel's assessment).
EXCLUSIVE:President George W Bush says Iran is "dangerous" for stability in the Middle East & warned a 2-state solution amid #israelipalestinianconflict will be "very difficult at this stage," says #Iran trying to 'break up alliances' like #AbrahamAccords https://t.co/B847Ni7ikv— Brooke Singman (@BrookeSingman) May 19, 2021
On the prospect of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Bush appeared to make a positive reference to Trump's policy... despite previously being hailed by 'never Trumpers' as some sort of resistance icon to Trump:
"I think it's very difficult at this stage," Bush said. "I wish, obviously, all of us should hope there's not violence, but what I think you're seeing playing out is Iranian influence targeted toward Israel, and trying to break up alliances that were formed in the previous administration called the Abraham Accords."
After appearing to praise the peace between UAE and Israel (and other Gulf-Arab states), Bush followed with, "But right now, those who don’t want peace are provoking and attacking Israel, and Israel is, of course, responding for national security reasons."
Meanwhile, a throwback...
Ron Paul: "Weapons are being used to kill Palestinians with American weapons. And American funds are essentially being used to do this... Hamas was encouraged and really started by Israel."— Joanna Justice💫 (@unikgirl11) May 17, 2021
(Created the leaders & then propagate they're terrorists to destroy them. Rinse & Repeat) pic.twitter.com/6Q7F1EOH2J
He again laid this squarely on Iranian influence: "It is going to require the Arab world deciding that peace with Israel is important for solving the Palestinian issue," Bush concluded of the topic. Reading between the lines, the 43rd US president essentially said Arab capitals must choose Israel or choose Iran... and that only one will lead to "peace".