George W Bush - Middle East peace advocate or just plain gangster for capitalism?

Tomorrow sees Dubya Bush jet off for Israel – perhaps the only country where his visit would not result in angry demonstrations – and ostensibly in an attempt to shore up perhaps the most catastrophic foreign policy legacy of any US president and a popularity at home that has saw republican supporters leave in droves. It’s perhaps no accident that his 9 day departure for the Middle East coincides with the important early stages of the US election campaign – the imbecile is quite simply perceived to be one huge and embarrassing liability at the moment and someone no repuke candidate wants to be seen acquainted with.

Few if any have any confidence in Bush personally pulling off anything remotely resembling an agreement between Israel and Palestine, this being a pledge he made at the Annapolis conference back in November. Said Bush:

"I am looking forward to sitting down with friends and allies to assure them of my commitment to the Middle Eastern peace and to work with them to make sure they are committed to Middle East peace."

Not only are Bush’s plans seriously hampered because of the split in the Palestinian leadership and which has left Hamas in power in Gaza and the West Bank controlled by the Palestinian Authority, lead by the President Mahmoud Abbas, more importantly he underestimates the level of support in Palestine for Iran, a country he quite obviously intends to attack.

As Uzi Mahnaimi wrote in yesterday’s Times: “Israel security officials are to brief President George W Bush on their latest intelligence about Iran’s nuclear programme - and how it could be destroyed - when he begins a tour of the Middle East in Jerusalem this week.”

Way to go, George. What better way to promote Middle East peace than to start another war there! Sheesh, why didn’t I think of that?

Muhnaimi continues: “Ehud Barak, the defence minister, is said to want to convince him [Bush] that an Israeli military strike against uranium enrichment facilities in Iran would be feasible if diplomatic efforts failed to halt nuclear operations. A range of military options has been prepared….While security officials are reluctant to reveal all their intelligence, fearing that leaks could jeopardise the element of surprise in any future attack, they are expected to present the president with fresh details of Iran’s enrichment of uranium - which could be used for civil or military purposes - and the development of missiles that could carry nuclear warheads.”

In response to this fresh “intelligence”, Bush said: “I read the intelligence report carefully. In essence, what the report said was that Iran had a secret plan to develop nuclear weapons. I’m saying that a state which adopted a non transparent policy and had a secret plan for developing nuclear weapons could easily develop an alternative plan for the same purpose. So to conclude from the intelligence report that there is no Iranian plan to develop nuclear weapons will be only a partial truth.”

Maybe Bush should start reading reports by his own people, such as last November’s CIA National Intelligence Estimate, which states:

“We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.

“We continue to assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon.

Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005.”

The report can be downloaded in pdf format here.

And, back to Bush again: “My message to all countries in the region is that we are able to solve the problem in a diplomatic way, but all options are on the table.”

In a “diplomatic way”, George? Like when Saddam bent over backwards for a diplomatic way out of the invasion of Iraq, bending over backwards to comply with UN Resolutions and to prove he had no WMD?

Anxious for some “false flag” incident to revive support for an assault on Iran after the NIE upset plans for an attack on the country, the Pentagon coincidentally kicked off at the weekend over the “hostile intent” of Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats after an alleged incident in the Strait of Hormuz this weekend.

In what U.S. officials called a serious provocation, Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats harassed and provoked three U.S. Navy ships in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, threatening to explode the American vessels, reports the Associated Press.

U.S. forces were on the verge of firing on the Iranian boats in the early Sunday incident, when the boats turned and moved away, a Pentagon official said. ‘It is the most serious provocation of this sort that we've seen yet,’ said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

Click here for the MSNBC TV report of the incident.

Writing on the Counterpunch website today, Gideon Levy says:

“A man is coming to Israel this week who has left a trail of killing, destruction and global hatred. Never has the U.S. been so despised as during Bush's seven years in office, which abruptly brought his county back to the not-so-merry days of Vietnam.

“He led the U.S., and the free world in its wake, into two brutal and completely futile wars of conquest, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. He sowed mass killing in these two wretched countries under the false pretext of a battle against global terror.

“In Western Europe, in South America, in Asia, in all parts of the Arab and Muslim world and in parts of Africa, the sole global superpower has come to be viewed as a hostile, arrogant and ostracized entity…. The Middle East has only moved further away from peace during Bush's tenure.”

Make no mistake about it, the last thing on Bush’s mind during his trip to the Middle East is peace. He is the ambassador of powerful oil interests, not only concerned about US oil security but, more importantly, anxious which aspiring superpowers will have future access to world oil supplies and thus emerge as a serious contender on the world capitalist stage. Expect war to be high on the real Bush agenda over the enxt nine days!

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