In hindsight — and to some of us even at the time, including my inexperienced 17-year-old self — the Israeli destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981 was one of the great achievements, and one of the most moral, of Israeli will triumphing over international opprobrium. Now comes the great Richard Allen to tell the tale of how the White House reacted, with Ronald Reagan almost alone (although Al Haig basically sided with Reagan) in NOT wanting to blast Israel. The interesting, but unsuprising, info is here: “The vigorous discussion provided some surprises, including the opinions presented by Vice President George H. W. Bush; the chief of staff, James Baker; and the president’s omnipresent aide, Michael Deaver. They argued strongly for punitive actions against Israel, including taking back aircraft and delaying or canceling scheduled deliveries…..”
As usual, the Baker/Bush-the-elder bias was against Israel, and friendly to Saddam. (Remember that Baker and Bush were famously friendly to Saddam UNTIL he threatened OTHER Arab oil producers.) Outrageous. It brings to mind, yet again, James Baker’s infamous remark (as ascribed to him): “F*** the Jews; they didn’t vote for us anyway.”
Well, it’s a good thing Ronald Reagan was wiser than those two supposedly realist, experienced, wise men: If Israel had been sanctioned and made to heel, and Saddam had taken enough solace at the sight of a neutered Israel for him to rebuild, then Baker and Bush would never have been able to carry out Operation Desert Storm without fear of utter cataclysm.
To this day, Baker and Bush get credited for a successful foreign policy. The credit is undeserved, on multiple fronts. Jerks.