In Bob Woodward’s latest book, State of Denial, there is an easily overlooked passage that gives more than just a subtle hint about what Bush’s intentions are for Iran. Rather than re-relate the story as Bob Woodward tells it, which would then tend to make the story third hand, I’ll reproduce the passage here which the reader can then verify via reference to the book itself.
The story relates to an interview that Jay Garner, the short-lived director of reconstruction and humanitarian assistance in Iraq, had with Bush just after he had been replaced by Paul Bremer. Woodward writes:
“Mr. President, the one thing I’ll tell you, I’ve had three weeks to work with Ambassador Bremer and he’s one of the hardest working men I’ve ever seen. He’s a very bright guy. He’s articulate and he’ll get the job done. You made a good choice.”
“I didn’t choose him,” Bush said. “Rumsfeld chose him just like he chose you.”
Garner looked at Rumsfeld. The secretary of defence had told him explicitly in late April  that Bush had selected Bremer, and had added later that even the timing of Bremer’s arrival was not his call. But now Rumsfeld didn’t say a word.
As Garner got up to leave, Rice stopped him and extended her hand. “Jay, you’ve got to stay in touch with us,” she said.
“I’d like to,” Garner said, thinking to himself, ‘How the hell am I going to do that?’ After all, he only talked with Rumsfeld.
On the way out, Bush slapped Garner on the back. “Hey, Jay, you want to do Iran”?
“Sir, the boys and I talked about that and we want to hold out for Cuba. We think the rum and cigars are a little better… The women are prettier.”
Bush laughed. “You got it. You got Cuba.”
The passage is telling for a number of reasons. The meeting between Garner and Bush was on 18 June 2003. Already Bush was seriously thinking of Iran. And not just Iran, it seems. While it was Garner that mentioned Cuba, Bush was quick to take the opportunity of exercising the ‘Emperor’s prerogative’ implying that it was within his power to ‘give’ Garner Cuba.
The passage also highlights the deceitful and lying ways of Rumsfeld – it was indeed Rumsfeld who had selected Bremer to replace Garner contrary to what the secretary of defence had told him.
And, finally, there’s Condoleeza Rice’s rather patronising remark about Garner having to stay in touch with ‘us’.
All very revealing.
 Bob Woodward, State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006.) p. 224.
 Woodward, State of Denial. p. 227.