Former US President George W. Bush leveled rare words of sharp public criticism against his successor, President Barack Obama, accusing him of being naive regarding Iran’s nuclear intentions and of losing the war against Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.
Bush’s statements were made in a closed-door meeting on Saturday night at a Republican Jewish Coalition session at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, which was attended by hotel owner Sheldon Adelson, said to be a key supporter of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
One of the attendants transcribed parts of Bush’s comments, which were published by Bloomberg View.
In his statements, Bush slammed Obama for being on “retreat” in terms of American policy worldwide, and for misreading the Islamic regime of Iran by pushing for a nuclear deal that would remove sanctions while leaving them with all their nuclear facilities and allow them to continue enriching uranium.
Bush said of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, “he’s smooth. And you’ve got to ask yourself, is there a new policy or did they just change the spokesman?”
The former president also criticized Obama’s “snap back” plan threatening to return sanctions if Iran is found to be violating the deal as implausible, given that detection will be difficult – particularly given Iranian insistence not to allow inspection of its nuclear sites.
“You think the Middle East is chaotic now? Imagine what it looks like for our grandchildren. That’s how Americans should view the deal,” Bush remarked of the nuclear deal being formed with Iran ahead of a June 30 deadline.
“You gotta kill ’em”
Turning his attention to ISIS, Bush said the group is merely a continuation of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization he led the fight against during his presidency.
He noted that Al Qaeda terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who confessed to the brutal beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was captured while he led America and was imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.
“Just remember the guy who slit Danny Pearl’s throat is in Gitmo, and now they’re doing it on TV,” he said of the way ISIS is beheading victims with relative impunity under Obama’s watch.
Bush added that Obama lacked a plan of action in fulfilling his stated mission to “degrade and destroy” ISIS.
“In order to be an effective president…when you say something you have to mean it,” Bush said. “You gotta kill ’em.”
The ex-president then spoke about several other subjects, starting with Russian President Vladimir Putin who he noted is rich, divorced, and loves power. He said Putin’s popularity in Russia is due to his media control, saying “hell, I’d be popular, too, if I owned NBC News.”
Bush’s brother Jeb, a former Florida governor, is in the Republican race for president. The former president acknowledged his family ties may harm Jeb given that Americans don’t like dynasties.
He urged Republican candidates to have the “courage” to tackle foreign policy and not get stuck on isolationist home front issues.
As for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, Bush said she would either have to oppose or support Obama’s policies. If she defends them she’s admitting failure, Bush said, but if she opposes them it would be tantamount to blaming Obama.