Bush / USA – Lebanon as a test run against Iran – Seymour Hersh

Bush viewed war in lebanon as a curtain raiser on war with iran 

“The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits. Why oppose it? We’ll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran.” A former intelligence officer, also quoted, says: “We told Israel,’Look, if you guys have to go, we’re behind you all the way. But we think it should be sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the less time we have to evaluate and plan for Iran before Bush gets out of office’.”

WATCHING LEBANON

Washington’s interests in Israel’s war.

by SEYMOUR M. HERSH

The Middle East expert said that the Administration had several reasons for supporting the Israeli bombing campaign. Within the State Department, it was seen as a way to strengthen the Lebanese government so that it could assert its authority over the south of the country, much of which is controlled by Hezbollah. He went on, “The White House was more focussed on stripping Hezbollah of its missiles, because, if there was to be a military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities, it had to get rid of the weapons that Hezbollah could use in a potential retaliation at Israel. Bush wanted both. Bush was going after Iran, as part of the Axis of Evil, and its nuclear sites, and he was interested in going after Hezbollah as part of his interest in democratization, with Lebanon as one of the crown jewels of Middle East democracy.”

Administration officials denied that they knew of Israel’s plan for the air war.

BBC – US ‘knew of Israeli bombing plan’

Hersh says, Israeli officials visited Washington to secure US support for its plans before Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers on 12 July, the ostensible cause of the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon.

“Israel began with [Vice-President Dick] Cheney. It wanted to be sure that it had his support and the support of … the National Security Council,” an unnamed US government consultant told Mr Hersh.

With Mr Cheney’s backing secured, “persuading [President] Bush was never a problem, and [Secretary of State] Condi Rice was on board,” the source added.

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