George W. Bush just sharply criticised Obama for the first time

RTXYZY9Reuters/Jason ReedFormer President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

Former President George W. Bush apparently did something over the weekend that is quite rare for him: He criticised his successor in the White House.

According to multiple reports on a closed-door Saturday event with Jewish donors, Bush offered his harshest public assessment of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy yet.

Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin reported that Bush said Obama had caused the US to “retreat” around the world, and that Obama had charted the wrong course in his nuclear negotiations with Iran.

“He also said Obama was misreading Iran’s intentions while relaxing sanctions on Tehran too easily,” Rogin wrote of Bush’s remarks at a Nevada event hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition. “Bush said that Obama’s plan to lift sanctions on Iran with a promise that they could snap back in place at any time was not plausible.

“He also said the deal would be bad for American national security in the 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.'”

Bush further criticised Obama for pulling US troops out of Iraq too quickly in 2011, though Obama later insisted his hands were tied on the matter. Both Rogin and The New York Times reported that Bush quoted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and said, “Pulling out of Iraq was a strategic blunder.”

“Several attendees sensed a tacit critique of Mr. Obama and his failure to follow through on his threats to use force when Mr. Bush said ‘you gotta mean it’ when talking tough, and that America’s allies and enemies needed to know where an American leader stood,” The Times’ Jason Horowitz and Maggie Haberman wrote.

Bush has made a habit out of almost never attacking Obama in public, even when prodded by reporters to do so. In a Fox News interview last year, Bush said he felt such barbs would be damaging to the presidency.

“I don’t think it’s good for the country to have a former president undermine a current president,” he said at the time. “I think it’s bad for the presidency for that matter.”

On the other hand, Bush’s No. 2, former Vice President Dick Cheney, has clearly felt almost no reservations about criticising Obama. Cheney frequently laments that Obama is one of the worst presidents in history.

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