Sunday, April 16, 2006

James Risen: State of War

It's been noted that Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense under President Ford but it was a brief tenure. Before 2001, George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld had no foreign policy or military success to point to before embarking on one of the most radical foreign policy transformations this country has ever seen. Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense during the Gulf War but he was more of an implementor at that time rather than a policy-maker; policy-making was in the hands of Brent Scowcroft, James Baker and the first president Bush. Condi Rice, has largely been considered by most experts to have been ineffectual as National Security Adviser before her promotion to Secretary of State.

President Bush, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Karl Rove and many of the other architects of our Iraq policy never served in the military. Rumsfeld served but never served in time of war. Colin Powell, of course served and with distinction but he was largely ignored by the Bush inner circle. Despite denials, we have recently learned that Bush may be considering a military strike in Iran. These are things to keep in mind when reading James Risen's book, State of War. Here's an excerpt from the prologue:
President George W. Bush angrily hung up the telephone, emphatically ending a tense conversation with his father, the former president of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush.

It was 2003, and the argument between the forty-first and forty-third presidents of the United States was the culmination of a prolonged, if very secret, period of friction between the father and son. While the exact details of the conversation are known only to the two men, several highly placed sources say that the argument was related to the misgivings Bush's father felt at the time about the way in which George W. Bush was running his administration. George Herbert Walker Bush was disturbed that his son was allowing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and a cadre of neoconservative ideologues to exert broad influence over foreign policy, particularly concerning Iraq, and that he seemed to be tuning out the advice of moderates, including Secretary of State Colin Powell. In other words, Geoge Bush's own father shared some of the same concerns that were being voiced at the time by his son's public critics.

(snip)

...the father-son argument underscores the degree to which the presidency of George W. Bush has marked a radical departure from the centrist traditions of U.S. foreign policy, embodied by his father. Since World War Two, foreign policy and national security hve been areas in which American presidents of both parties have tended toward cautious pragmatism. On issues of war and peace, both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans have in the past recognized that the stakes were too high to risk sudden and impetuous actions based on politics or ideology. (pg. 1-2)
The father and son eventually patched over their differences but, for the nation, the issues have never been satisfactorily resolved. To my knowledge, Congress never debated the radical new foreign policy or considered its many implications. We have seen the results of the Bush Administration's radical experiment and they are not good.

2 Comments:

Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

A 2004 report on TV showed how when he was running for president in 2000, Bush hosted a neocon cabal at his Crawford ranch that included Paul Wolfowitz and, I think, Dick Cheney.

Basically a blank slate where foreign affairs were concerned, George W. was readily indoctrinated in their way of thinking, the report indicated.

Furthermore, in my view, the neocon approach of democracy crusading filled the ongoing Bush need for a "vision thing" and that made it appeal to George W. all the more.

It's amazing how thoroughly these doctrinaire neocon incompetents have rejected out of hand the advice and counsel of learned, accomplished people with decades of hands on experience in all areas of defense planning and foreign policy.

11:44 PM  
Blogger Terrell said...

Dubya's administration, in foreign affairs, seems a repudiation of his father's administration, doesn't it? Look at the what two of Daddy Bush's buddies have said about the son and his policies - Scowcroft and Stormin' Norman -- and we all can imagine how Colin Powell must feel about how he's been used by Dubya.

Woundn't you love to know what Daddy really thinks about the boy's misadventures!

12:23 PM  

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