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The Tally Ho

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Brooks, Zinni, Woodward:

Is BushCo Losing their Backers as Media Coverage Shifts?

Did anyone else catch David Brooks’ last column in the New York Times, A More Humble Hawk? I found it quiet interesting. David Brooks’ colleague Bill Kristol had less than nice things to say about Bush’s performance after his “press conference” Tuesday. Bob Woodward’s new book is about to hit the shelves, complete with a section of how Secretary of State Colin Powell warned Bush with what Richard L. Armitage calls “the pottery barn rule,” 'you break it, you own it.' Also revealed is BushCo started Iraq planning less than three months after 11 September 2001. Gen. Anthony Zinni recently hit back on Darth Rumsfeld’s claim that he didn’t foresee the bloody last few weeks, and that he didn’t think more troops were necessary. But back to Brooks, he isn’t jumping ship on the neo-con ideology, he merely is saying that the idea is right but that the execution was wrong. He writes, “over the past two years many conservatives have grown increasingly exasperated with the administration’s inability to execute its politics semicompetently”. Paragraph two includes his ‘I told you it wouldn’t be easy’ warnings he made on PBS and in his article for The Atlantic while admitting that he thought the streets of Baghdad would be safer by now. Brooks also writes that “Most of all, I misunderstood how normal Iraqis would react to our occupation.”

Brooks continues on the “right idea, poor execution” theme as he writes that The Weekly Standard was right in their opinion that “occupation could not be accomplished by a light, lean, ‘transformed’ military” and how the administration ignored evidence that said just that. Brooks also writes how the PNAC people “urged” the Administration to go back to the UN for a reconstruction resolution and build a broader NATO led coalition for security, which never happened. Brooks does defend BushCo a bit. He believes that in 20 years Bush will be looked at as doing the right thing. Brooks writes that “the president has been ruthlessly flexible over the past months and absolutely committed to seeing this trough.” And that the administration now understands that they need more troops and needs to work with Brahimi and dissolve the governing council. Over the next 20 years though, at least a few administrations will have their fingerprints on Iraq. Bush will be credited for pushing the US into Iraq, but BushCo will be leaving the mess for someone else to clean up. Someone else may be changed with resolving this quagmire by January. Regardless, if you are one to believe that this situation was right, I will quote Brooks again as to the problem, “the administration’s inability to execute its policies semicompetently.” Right has little to do with Iraq now, and Brooks doesn’t hide his disappointment. Therefore, what makes us have any confidence that these same people are capable of following this through to the end? I was an anti-war marcher. I thought that the inspectors needed more time, and any action had to be a real multi-national operation once it was proven that Iraq was really a threat. But what really worried me more was the idea of what would happen after the government was removed. In the run up to the war everyone that was not pro-war or hawkish was marginalized. The hawks gave us this war, and as Armitage said via Woodward, "you break it, you own it." This cannot be judged just by what was right, but also what comes from it. That is what matters in the end. Being right (if that is what you think) and failing is still failing. But they weren't right in the first place.

Following Brooks’ theme of questioning the administrations post war planning, Zinni comments about Rumsfeld’s claim that this could not be foreseen. “I'm surprised that he is surprised because there was a lot of us who were telling him that it was going to be thus," said Zinni, a Marine for 39 years and the former commander of the U.S. Central Command. "Anyone could know the problems they were going to see. How could they not?” Another Zinni quote, “We're betting on the U.N., who we blew off and ridiculed during the run-up to the war,” Zinni said. “Now we're back with hat in hand. It would be funny if not for the lives lost.”

Bob Woodward’s new book due out on Monday, Plan of Attack, supposedly has some interesting tidbits. Washington Post staff writer William Hamilton not only writes that less than three months after 9/11 the administration was making plans to attack Iraq, but that Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Powell are barely on speaking terms. During the transition “Cheney sent word to departing Defense Secretary Williams S. Cohen that he wanted the traditional briefing given an incoming president to be a serious ‘discussion about and different options.’ One early proposed plan by Wolfowitz was “sending in the military to seize Iraq’s southern oil fields and establish the area as a foothold from which opposition groups could overthrow Hussein.” Woodward writes that “Powell dismissed the plan as ‘lunacy.’” Woodward writes in his book that Bush was willing to risk his presidency on Iraq because he felt so strongly that it was right.

So what will the reaction of the Woodward book be? Are we seeing a shift in the media from painting the administration as heroic warriors making America safe from terror while liberating Iraqis to that of an administration that is inflexible, idealistic, incompetent, and now criminal?

The New York Times article on Powell's comments in Woodward's new book.

Update/Addition:As for the violence in Iraq recently, This is a blog worth checking in on now and again. Also visit Riverbend and WildfireJo. Others I have found through various sites and posters include: Hammorabi, Healing Iraq, Iraq at a Glance, Iraq the Model, The Mesopotamian, and there are many more linked to each.

Blair says violence to get worse in Iraq

King Abdullah II comments

Iraq won't dominate this site, but the violence these last few weeks makes it difficult not to.

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