Thursday, January 11, 2007

Blumenthal on the end-game of the "surge"

How it unfolded, and how Baker failed to turn the tide. | Shuttle without diplomacy

… Informed correspondents of the Washington Post and New York Times related in conversation that Bush furiously called the [Iraq Study Group] report "a flaming turd," but his colorful remark was not published. Perhaps it was apocryphal. Nonetheless, it conveyed the intensity of his hostile rejection....

... Donald Rumsfeld had been sacrificed as the secretary of defense, but his replacement, Robert Gates, a former director of the CIA and member of the ISG, turned from skeptic into team player. The Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. John Abizaid, head of Central Command; and Gen. George Casey, commander in Iraq, all opposed the "surge" as no answer. Cheney and the neocons saw their opposition as the opening for purging and blaming them. The Joint Chiefs were ignored and sidelined, Abizaid was forced into retirement and Casey was removed (sent into internal exile as Army chief of staff). Their dissent, leaked to the Washington Post for appearance in the paper on the day of Bush's "surge" speech, was an extraordinary gesture by the senior military leaders to distance themselves from impending failure.,,

… The State Department has been completely sidelined in the making of Bush's latest and last policy on Iraq. Its experience in the Balkans remains thoroughly ignored. And Rice does nothing to call it to Bush's attention, for that would require her to point out his shortcomings. The State Department founders like a ghost ship. Rice meanders back and forth to and from the Middle East, the shuttle without the diplomacy.

After twice rejecting the job of deputy secretary of state, John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, was implored to accept it. In exchanging a Cabinet post for a sub-Cabinet one, a position of policymaking for an administrative post, Negroponte excited rumors that he would only have decided to make the switch if he believed that Rice would eventually leave and he would ascend to her job. But, once again, the logic of that Washington gossip is merely rational. Rice the irrelevancy remains Bush's indispensable devotee.

Congress alone will need to stop this president.

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