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Low Opinion of Bush and Rice

I have just finished reading Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward. It took a while, but better late than never. I was struck by several things in the Epilogue.

In what appears to be Deputy Secretary of State Armitage’s comments to Woodward, Woodward says that Armitage “believed that the foreign-policy-making system that was supposed to be coordinated by Rice was essentially dysfunctional. That dysfunction had served well as long as Powell and he could delay war. But that effort had ultimately failed. Later in 2003, whenever there was a presidential speech or an issue with the White House, particularly on the Middle East, he would say to Powell, ‘Tell these people to fuck themselves.'”

Woodward continues, “Months after the war, Rice asked Armitage about his all-too-apparent distress. The NSC system is dysfunctional, he told her bluntly, and the deputies committee was not carrying its load. Policy was not sufficiently coordinated, debated and then settled. She needed to be a good, knock-down-drag-out fighter to be a strong security adviser and enforce discipline.”

“On October 12, 2003, the Washington Post published a long front page story headlined, ‘Rice Fails to Repair Rifts, Officials Say; Cabinet Rivalries Complicate Her Role.'”

“Rice expressed her concern to Powell, who defended his deputy. ‘You can blame Rich if you want,’ Powell said, ‘Rich had the guts to go talk to you directly about this, so I don’t think he is the source.’ What Armitage had said reflected a general feeling around Washington and in the foreign policy establishment, Powell said…. Powell thought Rice was more interested in finding someone to blame for the public airing of the problem than in fixing it.”

So, this is our new Secretary of State. She had better clean house thoroughly, or there will be a lot of bad feelings in Foggy Bottom towards her.

Also in the Epilogue, Woodward quotes Bush’s expression of warm feelings toward Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi in October 2003: “If we hadn’t gotten it right in 1945 and helped build a democratically prosperous Japan , our conversation — between a Japanese prime minister and a president of the United States — could never take place. One day a president of Iraq and a president of the United States are going to be sitting there trying to solve some problem and they’re going to say they’re glad we created a democratic and prosperous Iraq.”

Woodward says that Rice “found some comfort” in the above exchange because the “president was holding firm and thinking about the long term.” Amazingly, neither Bush nor Rice noticed that Japan had invaded the U.S., but that the U.S. had invaded Iraq. Did Bush never learn about Pearl Harbor from his father or at Yale, or somewhere? How could Rice forget it? It’s the blind leading the blind. Bush likes Rice because she can play the piano and ice skate, but as Armitage pointed out, she can’t play with the big boys, like Cheney and Rumsfeld. Appointing Rice to State is like saying to Cheney and Rumsfeld, “Do whatever you like, boys. If you want to invade Iran, you go right ahead.”

The final passage is not from the Epilogue, but is near the end of the book. It says that Bush met with New York Mayor Bloomberg on March 19, 2002. Bush warned Bloomberg, “Keep your eye on tunnels, bridges and the Jewish community.” So, Bush recognized that Iraq was a race war or a religious war, in which the U.S. went to war with the Muslims on behalf of Israel and Zionist American Jews, such as Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Dov Zakheim, William Kristol, Ken Adelman, and maybe Scooter Libby (I’m not sure Libby is Jewish, but he’s from Miami Beach, and he was listed with Perle, Wolfowitz, and Feith in the Jewish Journal in a context that indicates that he is Jewish). This comes up because Woodward says that on April 13, 2002, Cheney gave a small dinner where the only guests were Libby, Wolfowitz and Adelman.

Of course, Perle was chairman of the Defense Policy Board until he was forced to resign. Wolfowitz is Deputy Secretary of Defense. Feith is an Under Secretary of Defense. Zakheim was comptroller of the Pentagon. Kristol is editor of the Weekly Standard. Adelman is a columnist, who was my boss as the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency during the Reagan Administration. Libby is Cheney’s foreign policy adviser; his bios say he is Wolfowitz’ close friend.

Finally, Woodward chronicles how Saudi Ambassador Bandar pressed Bush to tell him first when the war was going to start. Bush assured Bandar that he would; however, Woodward says that Rice told Israeli finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone about the start of the war at 7:30 pm on the day the first planes were striking Baghdad, although Netanyahu “said he already knew about the war.” Then Rice told Bandar later at a meeting at the White House at 7:45. Bandar asked Rice, “Have you told anybody else foreign other than me?” Woodward relates, not quoting Rice, “No, Rice said, though the Israelis already knew.” So, the Israelis were the first to know, despite Bush’s promise to Bandar. It shows who’s really important to the Bush Administration.

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