"Mr. Woodward's first two books about the Bush administration, 'Bush at War' and 'Plan of Attack,' portrayed a president firmly in command and a loyal, well-run team responding to a surprise attack and the retaliation that followed. As its title indicates, 'State of Denial' follows a very different storyline, of an administration that seemed to have only a foggy notion that early military success in Iraq had given way to resentment of the occupiers."Woodward’s book apparently doesn’t add a lot of new factual details, according to the Times review, but it does add some interesting context, specifically regarding the role that Henry Kissinger has apparently played in what passes for decision making by this administration. Taylor Marsh described a meeting Kissinger held with a senior Bushco player (Michael Gerson, who has since bailed out for a job with the Washington Post) a year ago:
In a meeting with presidential speechwriter Michael Gerson in early September 2005, Kissinger was more explicit: Bush needed to resist the pressure to withdraw American troops. He repeated his axiom that the only meaningful exit strategy was victory.As many others have pointed out, it is highly likely that our troops will never leave Iraq until Dubya leaves the White House (though unless Democrats win at least one house of Congress in a few weeks, that is all but a certainty).
"The president can't be talking about troop reductions as a centerpiece," Kissinger said. "You may want to reduce troops," but troop reduction should not be the objective. "This is not where you put the emphasis."
To emphasize his point, he gave Gerson a copy of a memo he had written to President Richard M. Nixon, dated Sept. 10, 1969.
"Withdrawal of U.S. troops will become like salted peanuts to the American public; the more U.S. troops come home, the more will be demanded," he wrote.
The policy of "Vietnamization," turning the fight over to the South Vietnamese military, Kissinger wrote, might increase pressure to end the war because the American public wanted a quick resolution. Troop withdrawals would only encourage the enemy. "It will become harder and harder to maintain the morale of those who remain, not to speak of their mothers."
Two months after Gerson's meeting, the administration issued a 35-page "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq." It was right out of the Kissinger playbook. The only meaningful exit strategy would be victory.
Molly Ivins presents a wealth of, shall I say, interesting details about Kissinger here, such as his role in installing Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power in Chile and initiating telltale human rights abuses; his most notorious act of initiating the bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War (while Nixon went on television and told us this wasn’t an escalation); and in an act which can only be considered “spitting in the eye” of the 9/11 families requesting formation of the commission to investigate the attacks, Kissinger’s nomination by Bushco to head that commission (Kissinger withdrew shortly after being named in 2002).
It is easy to forget, though, that Kissinger is far from the only bad apple from the past whose mania has contributed and continues to contribute to our disaster in Iraq. John Negroponte, a key player in the Iran-Contra Scandal, was appointed as Director of National Intelligence (now National Security) in February 2005, and as if by magic, death squads acting in a similar manner as those in El Salvador that we trained in the ‘80s (with Negroponte denying any involvement, of course) reappeared as of December 2005.
And though I’d like very much to forget Elliott Abrams, I cannot because he was appointed as a senior director on the National Security Council by Dubya in 2002 and was promoted to Deputy National Security Advisor last year (Admiral William Crowe Jr., former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said of Abrams in 1989 here that “this snake’s hard to kill”).
According to this Wikipedia article:
“Abrams favors a Middle East strategy based on the overwhelming military power of both the United States and Israel and a military alliance between Israel and Turkey against what are considered hostile Arab states, such as Syria and Iraq, in order to create a "broader strategic context" that would ensure whatever state might emerge on Palestinian territory would be pro-American.”Yep, I’d say that’s pretty nuts also (it is also alleged that he helped try to orchestrate a coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002).
And as long as we’re looking at those who have played key roles in our Iraq misery, let’s not forget the guy who, arguably, has played the biggest role of all (it tells you something that Clinton’s people sent him packing along with his Iraq invasion “pipe dreams,” but Bushco took them seriously, and we’re now living with the result…even though he was soundly defeated in the December 2005 election, he landed on his feet as “oil minister” – what else?).
I’ve spent much of my time here attacking Bushco and its fraudulent Iraq war complete with its inept prosecution that has cost the lives of over 2,700 of our soldiers and thousands of innocent Iraqis. Given that, I guess it should not have been an unsettling surprise that the mindset of the PNAC crowd that pushed for it stronger than anyone else reflected little more than the naiveté and deceit of other war mongers, partisans and shadowy characters that came before them.
In other words, it’s bad enough that they were all mistakes. But they weren’t even original ones at that.
Update: I forgot about this guy (hat tip to Atrios).