Ex-Bush aide: Olmert bombed Syria despite US diplomacy

A CIA photo of the covert al-Kabir nuclear reactor under construction in Syria before its destruction by Israel. (ISIS)

JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—A former aide to US president George W. Bush has come to the defense of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision-making process in the Mavi Marmara affair, as criticized in this week’s State Comptroller’s Report.

Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss blasted Netanyahu for ignoring mandated decision-making procedures, particularly the National Security Council, when deciding to send in Israel Navy commandos to intercept the Mavi Marmara cruise ship as it attempted to run Israel’s legal arms blockade of the Hamas terrorist-ruled Gaza Strip in May 2010.

Elliott Abrams, former US foreign policy adviser to Bush, told The Jerusalem Post that a similar situation existed in 2007, when former prime minister Ehud Olmert decided to bomb the al-Kabir nuclear facility in Syria. Olmert did so despite being told by Bush the US was using diplomatic channels to try to get the International Atomic Energy Agency to shut down the site.

Abrams pointed out the difference in decision-making between weighing numerous options and intelligence data and actually making a strategic decision.

“We took it all to the president–covert options, military options, diplomatic options–and he chose the wrong option,” said Abrams. “It is a mistake to believe that the process itself will provide you with the right answer.”

He said that the option he counseled when intelligence reports confirmed that the Syrians were going nuclear was for Israel to destroy it. This, he said, would both remove a threat and enhance Israel’s deterrence.

Ironically, President Barack Obama is today taking the same option Bush chose in dealing with Iran’s developing nuclear weapons: International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, economic sanctions, and keeping “all other options” on the table—perhaps until it is too late to act.