strange what the media has focused on in the extraordinary
excerpts from Bob Woodward's Bush
at War published in the Washington Post. A
single sentence about how Roger Ailes advised the President
in the days after 9/11 has them all in
a lather, but my eyes nearly popped out of my head when
I read the account of the struggle within the administration
over the President's address
to the UN.
to Woodward, Bush had decided, after much intense back-and-forth
between Colin Powell and Dick Cheney, to ask for a new UN
resolution, and not only that but to mention this specifically
in his speech. But when Bush stood before the assembled delegates,
there was a
the podium in the famous General Assembly hall, Bush reached
the portion of the speech where he was to say he would seek
resolutions. But the change hadn't made it into the copy that
was put into the TelePrompTer. So Bush read the old line,
'My nation will work with the U.N. Security Council to meet
our common challenge.'
was reading along with Draft No. 24, penciling in any ad-libs
that the president made. His heart almost stopped. The sentence
about resolutions was gone! He hadn't said it! It was the
what happened to the line that, last time anyone looked, had
been there plain as day?
Jenkins, writing in the Times of London, avers
that the hawks had gone as far in their internecine war against
Powell as "doctoring the President's UN Autocue,
omitting a key Powell phrase," and this is clearly what
occurred. But what happened next indicates that the President,
far from being a moron – as a
certain Canadian official, as well as Bush's own neoconservative
advisors, seem to believe – knows when someone is trying to
as Bush read the old sentence, he realized that the part about
resolutions was missing. With only mild awkwardness he ad-libbed
it, saying later, 'We will work with the U.N. Security Council
for the necessary resolutions.'"
That was a close one.
cares about Roger Ailes' relationship with this administration,
which is obviously a close one – and so what? The real scoop
here is that someone tried to sabotage the President's
speech, figuring he'd be too dumb to notice the difference
until it was too late. So, what's up with that?
morning, on CSPAN's Washington Journal, I watched Georgie
Anne Geyer, a columnist whose analysis of the causes of
this war is similar to my own, take a question from a viewer.
He asked her if she wasn't floating a bit of a "conspiracy
theory" in positing a clique of warmongers around the
President, who, in the wake of 9/11, moved quickly to implement
their longstanding dream: the conquest and subjugation of
the Middle East. Her answer – and I am paraphrasing her
cut right to the heart of the matter. She said that a conspiracy
is a secret process, but the War Party's goals have been proclaimed
openly: if not by the principals then by their amen corner
in the media and the 'K Street' thinktanks.
same boldness characterizes the actions of the Cheney-Rumsfeld
faction, as detailed by Woodward. He describes Cheney's relentless
was beyond hell-bent for action against Hussein. It was as
if nothing else existed."
enough to have arranged – or at least known about – the Autocue
Jenkins finds "astonishing" the spectacle of
a war being fought in public, that is, when "every leadership
debate, argument, nuance and power struggle is related in
the daily press." He wonders if "decisive action
[is] possible when at every turn 'those behind cried Forward!
and those before cried Back?'"
that is how empires work – or, rather, how they ultimately
of the Imperial Court fawn and do their darnedest to manipulate
the Imperial Will, and bend it or trick it into fulfilling
their own private agendas. This is doubly true in the case
of an Imperium with the insignia of Democracy plastered over
the Roman fasces.
Each faction must make its public appeal, and that is certainly
accomplished in Woodward's narrative. Through Condolezza Rice
we get the Official View of the President as a man of steely-nerved
purpose, unyielding in his single-tracked frame-of-reference:
an almost FDR-like image is generated, and what emerges is
a Rooseveltian portrait of Dubya as "Dr.
Win-the-War," as FDR once characterized himself.
This, naturally enough, is how Woodward gained his extraordinary
access to the principals involved.
Woodward as a sounding board, each faction makes its case,
with the Cheneyites always on the offensive, and poor Powell
just barely managing to rein them in, as they actively seek
to undercut him at every turn. I might add that Powell's expressed
reservations about the war plans of the Cheneyites, as reported
by Woodward, mirror many of the most determined and vocal
opponents of this war, especially among conservatives:
his notes by his side, a double-spaced outline on loose-leaf
paper, Powell said the president had to consider what a military
operation against Iraq would do in the Arab world. He dealt
with the leaders and foreign ministers in these countries
as secretary of state. The entire region could be destabilized friendly
regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan could be put in
jeopardy or overthrown. Anger and frustration at America abounded.
War could change everything in the Middle East."
that is precisely the aim of the Cheneyites: to see to it
that we "change everything in the Middle East" –
by force of arms. Destablization? The neoconservatives, such
Ledeen and his cothinkers
at the Center for Security Policy and JINSA, are all for
it! The value of instability – of a "revolution"
in the Middle East, catalyzed by US military action on a massive
scale – is the theme of Ledeen's new book, The
War Against the Terror Masters.
a private audience with the President, Powell also advanced
the argument now
being put forward by the Democrats: war on Iraq "would
suck the oxygen out of just about everything else the United
States was doing, not only in the war on terrorism, but also
in all other diplomatic, defense and intelligence relationships."
Cheneyites have long criticized the Secretary of State for
forging out on his own, as Woodward reports, and surely reading
that in the Washington Post didn't reassure Karl Rove,
(or is that Rasputin?)
on the question of Powell's loyalty to this administration.
No doubt they are spreading the rumor of Powell's presidential
ambitions – and might they not have a point?
the imperial purple once before, but you'll remember that
was reportedly due to his wife's objections, rather than his
own. The Democratic party, in disarray, and with not a single
presidential hopeful with any following on the horizon, could
easily be dominated and revived by Powell's presence – and
please don't tell me that hasn't occurred to more than a few
top operatives of both parties.
appeal as a political figure is further reflected in the wide
scope of his war critique, which encompasses not only the
multilateralist and "balance of power" objections
from the liberal Democratic camp, but also the views of such
paleo-conservative opponents of the coming conflict as Paul
Craig Roberts and the boys over at The
American Conservative, as well as libertarians.
and also columnist James
Pinkerton, see global economic disaster as one all-too-possible
outcome of the admnistration's war policy, and Powell seems
to agree. As Woodward relates the Secretary's view:
economic implications could be staggering, potentially driving
the supply and price of oil in directions that were as-yet
unimagined. All this in a time of an international economic
slump. The cost of occupying Iraq after a victory would be
expensive. The economic impact on the region, the world and
the United States domestically had to be considered."
Pat Buchanan and the paleos,
is simply awestruck by the ominous implications of a "victory"
that can only be Pyrrhic:
victory, and Powell believed they would surely prevail, the
day-after implications were giant. What of the image of an
American general running an Arab country for some length of
time? he asked. A General MacArthur in Baghdad? This would
be a big event within Iraq, the region and the world. How
long would it last? No one could know. How would success be
too, asks: "Once in Baghdad, how do we get out?"
and conjures up the image of a neo-MacArthur astride the Middle
our MacArthur Regency in Baghdad, Pax Americana will reach
apogee. But then the tide recedes, for the one endeavor at
which Islamic peoples excel is expelling imperial powers by
terror and guerrilla war. They drove the Brits out of Palestine
and Aden, the French out of Algeria, the Russians out of Afghanistan,
the Americans out of Somalia and Beirut, the Israelis out
attain the summit of imperial power, only to discover that
it has increased rather than abolished our vulnerability.
Here is a paradox that must have impressed itself upon the
Romans, the Byzantines, and the European empires each in their
time, as they all met the same fate of decline and fall. Can
America avoid learning the same lesson the hard way?
this point, one can only hope.
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