Yossi Alpher writes in the Forward:
…[S]ometime prior to March 2003, Sharon told Bush privately in no
uncertain terms what he thought about the Iraq plan. Sharon’s words —
revealed here for the first time — constituted a friendly but pointed
warning to Bush. Sharon acknowledged that Saddam Hussein was an “acute
threat” to the Middle East and that he believed Saddam possessed
weapons of mass destruction.
Yet according to
one knowledgeable source, Sharon nevertheless advised Bush not to
occupy Iraq. According to another source — Danny Ayalon, who was
Israel’s ambassador to the United States at the time of the Iraq
invasion, and who sat in on the Bush-Sharon meetings — Sharon told Bush
that Israel would not “push one way or another” regarding the Iraq
According to both sources, Sharon warned
Bush that if he insisted on occupying Iraq, he should at least abandon
his plan to implant democracy in this part of the world. “In terms of
culture and tradition, the Arab world is not built for
democratization,” Ayalon recalls Sharon advising.
sure, Sharon added, not to go into Iraq without a viable exit strategy.
And ready a counter-insurgency strategy if you expect to rule Iraq,
which will eventually have to be partitioned into its component parts.
Finally, Sharon told Bush, please remember that you will conquer,
occupy and leave, but we have to remain in this part of the world.
Israel, he reminded the American president, does not wish to see its
vital interests hurt by regional radicalization and the spillover of
violence beyond Iraq’s borders.…
Now, look at President Bush’s handling of the Iraq war. Everything Sharon warned him about has come true, and Bush had no plan to deal with any of this. Why? Because he relied on Donald Rumsfeld, backed Rumsfeld when Rummsfeld’s policies failed, and crushed any dissent within his administration. In the end, Bush’s cronyism and stubbornness caused these horrific policy failures. Sad.
DK’s take on this can be read here.