A former senior U.S. official says Israel warned the Bush administration in the lead-up to the Iraq war that Iran posed a greater threat.
“The Israelis were telling us Iraq is not the enemy — Iran is the enemy,” Lawrence Wilkerson, the State Department’s policy planning chief at the time, told Inter Press Service in an article appearing on antiwar.com, a Web site that is otherwise often critical of Israel.
As early as the first part of 2002, Israel’s message was, “If you are going to destabilize the balance of power, do it against the main enemy,” Wilkerson said, recalling a message he described as “pervasive.”
Israel did not counsel an immediate attack, the story quotes Wilkerson as saying, but warned that the Bush administration “should not be distracted by Iraq and Saddam Hussein” from the Iran threat. Israel-based sources have reported similar warnings.
At the time, Israeli leaders mostly heeded Bush administration requests not to weigh in publicly one way or another on the Iraq war.