Military options must be left on the table to force Iran’s leaders to abandon their nuclear ambitions, according to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The United States should be much more assertive in encouraging regime change there as well, he said.
Bush's comments in an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview Monday came on the heels of a disclosure of secret U.S. diplomatic communications made on by WikiLeaks.
Several documents indicated that Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, had pressed the U.S. to bomb Iran.
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Bush told Newsmax that not maintaining the viable prospect of U.S. military action “empowers bad behavior in Tehran amongst its leaders.”
The leading Florida Republican, who many analysts consider a GOP presidential contender-in-waiting, criticized the Obama administration for failing to encourage internal resistance to Iran’s mullahs. Iran’s theocrats have subjected the “green movement” protesters to a series of brutal crackdowns.
“I think we need to be much more aggressive in supporting civil opposition to the regime in Iran,” Bush said. “I was saddened to see how the Obama administration handled the post-election revolution on the streets, that was not necessarily related to the election, but it was related to this desire for freedom.
“It seemed like we were very tepid, at a time when we should forcefully support freedom. It’s part of who we are as a people, it’s part of who we are as a nation, and I don’t think we should be ashamed of it, I think we should embrace this noble notion: If not for the United States, who? Who will be there to help?”
Bush also said sanctions against Iran, whose nuclear-arms program he termed “a huge threat,” should be further strengthened as well.
Bush, the younger brother of former President George W. Bush, called the latest WikiLeaks disclosure of tens of thousands of confidential diplomatic cables “abhorrent” and “absolutely disgusting.”
But the Florida Republican said the content of the cables do reveal the true source of the ongoing instability roiling the Middle East.
"It does show that Iran poses the greatest threat in the region, when countries that publicly say Israel is the greatest threat, privately say the obvious, which is that Iran is the greatest threat,” Bush told Newsmax. “It should bring home the fact that this should be a higher priority in terms of our own foreign policy.”
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