Obama Fixes Absence of Plan to Attack Iran

After 9/11, Bush made clear that Iran was on his sights

— by Jacob Miller

President Barack Obama’s speech last week at the National Defense University has brought the United States’ foreign policy and continuing war on terror to the forefront. Bloomberg’s Jeffery Goldberg released an opinion piece entitled “Can Obama Clean Up Bush’s National Security Mess?” Goldberg highlighted several mistakes and oversights President George W. Bush had on national security:

In the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration made clear to the world that it had the Islamic Republic of Iran in its sights….

So it was with shock (and with something like the opposite of awe) that, seven years later, the newly elected Barack Obama learned that the Bush administration had never even drawn up plans for attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities. Obama discovered this when he asked his generals for their plan, and they had none. Bush had never asked for one. The bellicose rhetoric on Iran, in other words, was empty of substance.

More after the jump.
This revelation is surprising given that President Bush made a point of highlighting Iran as a member of the “axis of evil.” President Obama has rectified this mess. Instead of blaming President Bush, he has taken action:

A senior administration official told me that Obama soon ordered Robert Gates, the holdover secretary of defense, to draw up preparations. Not because Obama wanted to attack, but because it seemed absurd and irresponsible that his predecessor had labeled Iran a member of the “axis of evil” without even having a plan to confront such evil, and because Obama, despite allegations to the contrary, takes the threat of a nuclear Iran seriously.

Inside the White House, the no-Iran-plan fiasco is used to illustrate a larger point: Obama, on taking office, inherited 10 kinds of mess from Bush on national security. The administration is cautious about publicly blaming Bush for these messes, because it suspects — correctly — that the public isn’t interested in excuses about problems created or exacerbated by a president who left office more than four years ago.


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