George W. Bush.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former US president George W. Bush voiced harsh criticism of his successor Barack Obama's Middle East policies in comments made to Republican donors Saturday in a closed-door meeting which were leaked to Bloomberg View columnist Josh Rogin.
Bush had refrained from publicly attacking Obama previously, and the comments, written down by an attendee at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting hosted by Sheldon Adelson at his Venetian hotel in Las Vegas, offered a rare glimpse into his opinion of his successor.
The former president said that Obama's emerging deal to remove sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program was bad for American security. He suggested that Obama was being naive by believing that the so-called moderate Hassan Rouhani taking over the Iranian presidency signaled a policy shift for Iran and not merely a change in spokesperson.
Bush said that the deal would be bad for the US long-term. “You think the Middle East is chaotic now? Imagine what it looks like for our grandchildren. That’s how Americans should view the deal.”
He also slammed the US president for withdrawing all US troops from Iraq and contributing to the rise of Islamic State, whom he referred to as al-Qaida’s "second act.”
“In order to be an effective president ... when you say something you have to mean it,” Bush said, criticizing Obama's lack of strategy in his mission against Islamic State. “You gotta kill em.”
Bush also addressed his brother Jeb's expected run for the Republican presidential nomination, admitting that the name Bush could be a liability for his brother.