A little interesting insight into the "W" Bush Administration

  1. Hope the links lasts for a while for this thread. This Washington Post article is interesting to say the least.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2002Nov16.html

    My brief comment: "Go, Powell, Go!"

    Ted
    Last edit by Ted on Nov 17, '02
    •  
  2. 28 Comments

  3. by   Ted
    A Struggle for the President's Heart and Mind
    Powell Journeyed From Isolation to Winning the Argument on Iraq

    By Bob Woodward
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, November 17, 2002; Page A01


    In early August, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell made the diplomatic rounds in Indonesia and the Philippines and, as always, kept in touch with what was happening at home. Iraq was continuing to bubble. Brent Scowcroft, the mild-mannered national security adviser to President Bush's father, had declared on a Sunday morning talk show Aug. 4 that an attack on Iraq could turn the Middle East into a "cauldron and thus destroy the war on terrorism."

    Blunt talk, but Powell basically agreed. He had not made clear his own analysis and conclusions to the president and realized he needed to do so. On the long flight back, from nearly halfway around the world, he jotted down some notes. Virtually all the Iraq discussions in the National Security Council had been about war plans -- how to attack, when, with what force levels, military strike scenario this and military strike scenario that. It was clear to him now that the context was being lost, the attitude and views of the rest of the world that Powell knew and lived with. His notes filled three or four pages.

    During the Persian Gulf War, when he had been chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell had played the role of reluctant warrior, arguing to the first President Bush, perhaps too mildly, that containing Iraq might work, that war might not be necessary. But as the principal military adviser, he hadn't pressed his arguments that forcefully because they were less military than political. Now as secretary of state, his account was politics -- the politics of the world. He decided he had to come down very hard, state his convictions and conclusions so there would be no doubt as to where he stood. The president had been hearing plenty from Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, a kind of A-team inside the war cabinet. Powell wanted to present the B-team, the alternative view that he believed had not been aired. He owed the president more than PowerPoint briefings.

    In Washington, he told Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, that he wanted to see the president.

    It had been a long, hard road that brought Powell to make that request. During his first months as secretary of state, he never really closed the personal loop with Bush, never established a comfort level -- the natural, at-ease state of closeness that both had with others.

    Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, felt Powell was beyond political control and operating out of a sense of entitlement. "It's constantly, you know, 'I'm in charge, and this is all politics, and I'm going to win the internecine political game,' " Rove said privately. Rove, for one, thought Powell had somehow lost a step, and that it was odd to see him uncomfortable in the presence of the president.

    Even after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Powell at times was isolated politically, and the White House kept him off the television talk shows. Powell and his deputy and closest friend, Richard L. Armitage, joked privately that Powell had been put in the "icebox" -- to be used only when needed.

    In early October 2001, the White House called Armitage and asked him to make the rounds on the television talk shows. He had little interest in appearing, and he politely declined. When they pressed, Armitage went to Powell and said, "Look, that's not my deal."

    "Nah, I'm in the icebox again," Powell replied. Maybe because he was pushing to release a white paper detailing evidence against Osama bin Laden. "We've got to get the story out, so go do it," he told Armitage.

    On Oct. 3, Armitage dutifully appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" and CNN's "Live This Morning."

    One of Powell's greatest difficulties was that he was more or less supposed to pretend in public that the sharp differences in the war cabinet did not exist. The president would not tolerate public discord. Powell was also held in check by his own code -- a soldier obeys.

    Bush might order, Go get the guns! Get my horses! -- all the Texas, Alamo macho that made Powell uncomfortable. But he believed and hoped that the president knew better, that he would see the go-it-alone approach did not stand further analysis. Hopefully, the success in the first phase of the war in Afghanistan had provided the template for that understanding.

    The ghosts in the machine in Powell's view were Rumsfeld and Cheney. Too often they went for the guns and the horses.

    A Nearly Impossible Mission


    In the spring of 2002, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict became so violent that it threatened to overwhelm the war on terrorism. The president said he wanted to send Powell to the Middle East to see if he could calm things down. Powell was reluctant. He said he didn't have much to offer, too little leverage with either side.

    We are in trouble, the president told Powell. "You're going to have to spend some political capital. You have plenty. I need you to do it."

    "Yes, sir," Powell said.

    He went to the region, made little headway and after 10 days was preparing his departure statement that proposed an international conference and security negotiations.

    Rice called Armitage at the State Department to ask him to tell Powell to scale back his statement, make less of a commitment about future negotiations. There were real concerns that Powell was going too far.

    In Washington, Armitage was almost chained to his desk so he could talk to Powell between his meetings. It was midnight, 7 a.m. in Jerusalem, when Armitage explained Rice's concerns.

    Powell went nuts. Everybody wanted to grade papers! he said. No one wanted to step up, face reality! They wanted to be pro-Israel and leave him holding the Palestinian bag by himself. They had sent him out on a nearly impossible mission.

    "I'm holding back the [expletive] gates here," Armitage reported. "They're eating cheese on you" -- an old military expression for gnawing on someone and enjoying it. People in the Defense Department and the vice president's office were trying to do him in, Armitage said. He had heard from reliable media contacts that a barrage was being unloaded on Powell. He was leaning too much to Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader. The White House was going to trim Powell's sails; he was going to fail. Armitage said he couldn't verify who was leaking this, but he had names of senior people in Defense and in Cheney's office.

    "That's unbelievable," Powell said. "I just heard the same thing." He had had cocktails with some reporters traveling with him, and they reported that their sources in Cheney's office were declaring he had gone too far, was off the reservation, and about to be reined in.

    "People are really putting your [expletive] in the street," Armitage said.

    Rice reached Powell and said all the others thought it was best he say nothing more, and announce that he was going back to Washington to consult with the president.

    Powell, who had been engaged in a grueling diplomatic shuttle, erupted. Was he just supposed to say, thank you very much for your hospitality, good-bye!

    Rice said she was worried that he was committing the president and the administration more deeply than they all wanted.

    Guess what? Powell countered. They were already in. They couldn't launch an initiative with a high-profile presidential speech like the one Bush had given in the Rose Garden on April 4, and not expect to propose some plan or follow-up. But he agreed to trim back on his statement.

    Powell was up to about 3 a.m. writing his remarks, knowing that he was out at the end of a long stick.

    On April 17, he made his departure statement in Jerusalem. It was 20 paragraphs of Powell at his diplomatic best -- smooth, upbeat, even eloquent. He was able to dress it up and point toward a negotiated future, while avoiding mention of his failure to get a cease-fire.

    It didn't make much of a splash. He hadn't solved the Middle East problem; there was no breakthrough. But it settled some things down for the moment, and the president later thanked him.

    Face Time, and Headway


    Powell still had not squared his relationship with the president. During the first half of 2002, Armitage had received reliable reports that Rumsfeld was requesting and having periodic private meetings with Bush. Powell was not particularly worried, because he could usually find out what had transpired through Rice, though she had had difficulties initially finding out herself.

    "It seems to me that you ought to be requesting some time with the president," Armitage suggested to Powell. Face time was critical, and it was a relationship that Powell had not mastered.

    Powell said he recalled his time as national security adviser for Reagan when everyone was always trying to see the president. He didn't want to intrude. If Bush wanted to see him, any time or any place, he was, of course, available. He saw Bush all the time at meetings, and he was able to convey his views.

    "You've got to start doing it," Armitage said. Powell was the secretary of state. It wouldn't be an imposition. Better relations would help in all the battles, would help the department across the board.

    In the late spring of 2002 -- some 16 months into the Bush presidency -- Powell started requesting private time with Bush. He did it through Rice, who sat in on the meetings that took place about once a week for 20 to 30 minutes. It seemed to help, but it was like his experience in the Middle East: no big breakthroughs.

    During the summer, Powell was over at the White House one day with time to kill before a meeting with Rice. The president spotted him and invited him into the Oval Office. They talked alone for about 30 minutes. They shot the breeze and relaxed. The conversation was about everything and nothing.

    "I think we're really making some headway in the relationship," Powell reported to Armitage afterward. The chasm seemed to be closing. "I know we really connected."


    The Big Picture and a Breakthrough


    It was in this context that Bush invited Powell and Rice to the White House residence on the evening of Monday, Aug. 5, to discuss Iraq. The meeting expanded into dinner and then moved to the president's office in the residence.

    Powell told Bush that as he was getting his head around the Iraq question, Bush needed to think about the broader issues, all the consequences of war.

    With his notes by his side, a double-spaced outline on loose-leaf paper, Powell said the president had to consider what a military operation against Iraq would do in the Arab world. He dealt with the leaders and foreign ministers in these countries as secretary of state. The entire region could be destabilized -- friendly regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan could be put in jeopardy or overthrown. Anger and frustration at America abounded. War could change everything in the Middle East.

    It would suck the oxygen out of just about everything else the United States was doing, not only in the war on terrorism, but also in all other diplomatic, defense and intelligence relationships, Powell said. The economic implications could be staggering, potentially driving the supply and price of oil in directions that were as-yet unimagined. All this in a time of an international economic slump. The cost of occupying Iraq after a victory would be expensive. The economic impact on the region, the world and the United States domestically had to be considered.

    Following victory, and Powell believed they would surely prevail, the day-after implications were giant. What of the image of an American general running an Arab country for some length of time? he asked. A General MacArthur in Baghdad? This would be a big event within Iraq, the region and the world. How long would it last? No one could know. How would success be defined?

    "It's nice to say we can do it unilaterally," Powell told the president bluntly, "except you can't." A successful military plan would require access to bases and facilities in the region, overflight rights. They would need allies. This would not be the Gulf War, a nice two-hour trip from a fully cooperative Saudi Arabia over to Kuwait City -- the target of liberation just 40 miles away. Now the geography would be formidable. Baghdad was a couple of hundred miles across Mesopotamia.

    The Middle East crisis was still ever-present. That was the issue the Arab and Muslim world wanted addressed. A war on Iraq would open Israel to attack by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who had launched Scud missiles at it during the Gulf War.

    Hussein was crazy, a menace, a real threat, unpredictable, but he had been largely contained and deterred since the Gulf War. A new war could unleash precisely what they wanted to prevent -- Hussein on a rampage, a last desperate stand, perhaps using his weapons of mass destruction.

    On the intelligence side, as the president knew, the problem was also immense, Powell said. They had not been able to find Osama bin Laden, Mohammad Omar and other al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in Afghanistan. They didn't know where Hussein was. He had all kinds of tricks and deceptions. He had an entire state at his disposal to hide in. They did not need another possibly fruitless manhunt.
  4. by   Ted
    On the intelligence side, as the president knew, the problem was also immense, Powell said. They had not been able to find Osama bin Laden, Mohammad Omar and other al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in Afghanistan. They didn't know where Hussein was. He had all kinds of tricks and deceptions. He had an entire state at his disposal to hide in. They did not need another possibly fruitless manhunt.

    Powell's presentation was an outpouring of both analysis and emotion that encompassed his entire experience -- 35 years in the military, former national security adviser and now chief diplomat. The president seemed intrigued as he listened and asked questions but did not push back that much.

    And Powell realized that his arguments begged the question of, well, what do you do? He knew that Bush liked, in fact insisted on, solutions, and Powell wanted to take his views all the way down the trail. "You can still make a pitch for a coalition or U.N. action to do what needs to be done," he said. International support had to be garnered. The United Nations was only one way. But some way had to be found to recruit allies. A war with Iraq could be much more complicated and bloody than the war in Afghanistan, which was Exhibit A demonstrating the necessity of a coalition.

    The president said he preferred to have an international coalition, and he loved building one for the war in Afghanistan.

    Powell responded that he believed the pitch could still be made to the international community to build support.

    What did he think the incentives and motives might be of some of the critical players, such as the Russians or the French, the president asked. What would they do?

    As a matter of diplomacy, Powell said he thought the president and the administration could bring most countries along.

    The secretary felt the discussion became tense several times as he pressed, but in the end he believed that he had left nothing unsaid.

    The president thanked him. It had been two hours -- nothing of Clintonesque, late-night-at-the-dorm proportions, but extraordinary for this president and Powell. And Powell felt he had stripped his argument down to the essentials. The private meeting with just Bush and Rice had meant there was not a lot of static coming in from other quarters -- Cheney and Rumsfeld.

    Rice thought the headline was, "Powell Makes Case for Coalition as Only Way to Assure Success."

    "That was terrific," Rice said the next day in a phone call to Powell, "and we need to do more of those."

    The tipoff about the potential importance of the evening was when White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. also called the next day and asked Powell to come over and give him the same presentation, notes and all.

    The dinner was a home run, Powell felt.

    Public Speculation, Private Decisions


    Bush left for his Crawford, Tex., working vacation the next afternoon, as Iraq continued to play to a packed house in the news media. There was little other news, and speculation about Iraq filled the void. Every living former national security adviser or former secretary of state who could lift pen to paper was on the street with his or her views.

    On Wednesday, Aug. 14, the principals -- Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice and CIA Director George J. Tenet -- met in Washington without the president.

    Powell said they needed to think about getting a coalition for action against Iraq, some kind of international cover at least. The Brits were with us, he noted, but their support was fragile in the absence of some international coalition or cover. They needed something. Most of Europe was the same way, he reported, as was all of the Arabian peninsula, especially the U.S. friends in the Gulf region who would be most essential for war. And Turkey, which shared a 100-mile border with Iraq.

    The first opportunity the president would have after his vacation to formally address the subject of Iraq was a scheduled speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 12, Powell pointed out. There had been talk about making the speech about American values or the Middle East. But Iraq was Topic A. "I can't imagine him going there and not speaking about this," Powell said.

    Rice agreed. In the atmosphere of continuing media discussion, not to talk about Iraq might suggest that the administration was not serious about Hussein's threat, or that it was operating in total secrecy. And Bush liked to explain to the public at least the general outlines of where his policy was heading.

    They discussed how they would face an endless process of debate and compromise and delay once they started down the U.N. road -- words, not action.

    "I think the speech at the U.N. ought to be about Iraq," Cheney said, but the United Nations ought to be made the issue. It should be challenged and criticized. "Go tell them it's not about us. It's about you. You are not important." The United Nations was not enforcing more than a decade of resolutions ordering Hussein to destroy his weapons of mass destruction and allow weapons inspectors inside Iraq. The United Nations was running the risk of becoming irrelevant and would be the loser if it did not do what was necessary.

    Rice agreed. The United Nations had become too much like the post-World War I League of Nations -- a debating society with no teeth.

    They all agreed that the president should not go to the United Nations to ask for a declaration of war. That was quickly off the table. They all agreed that a speech about Iraq made sense. But there was no agreement about what the president should say.

    Two days later, Friday, Aug. 16, the NSC met, with the president participating by secure video from Crawford. The sole purpose of the meeting was for Powell to make his pitch about going to the United Nations to seek support or a coalition in some form. Unilateral war would be tough, close to impossible, Powell said. At least they ought to try to reach out and ask other countries to join them.

    The president went around the table asking for comments, and there was general support for giving the United Nations a shot -- even from Cheney and Rumsfeld.

    Fine, Bush finally said. He approved of the approach -- a speech to the United Nations about Iraq. And it couldn't be too shrill, he cautioned them, or set so high a standard that they wouldn't seem serious. He wanted to give the United Nations a chance.

    Powell walked out feeling they had a deal, and he went off for a vacation in the Hamptons.

    'Let Me Think About Powell'


    When I specifically asked about Powell's contributions during an interview on Aug. 20, four days later, the president offered a tepid response. "Powell is a diplomat," Bush responded. "And you've got to have a diplomat. I kind of picture myself as a pretty good diplomat, but nobody else does. You know, particularly, I wouldn't call me a diplomat. But, nevertheless, he is a diplomatic person who has got war experience."

    Did Powell want private meetings? I asked.

    "He doesn't pick up the phone and say, 'I need to come and see you,' " Bush said. He confirmed that he did have private meetings with Powell that Rice also attended. "Let me think about Powell. I got one. He was very good with [Pakistani President Pervez] Musharraf. He single-handedly got Musharraf on board. He was very good about that. He saw the notion of the need to put a coalition together" for the war in Afghanistan.

    Vacationing in Long Island, Powell picked up the New York Times on Aug. 27 and was astonished by what he read. "Cheney Says Peril of a Nuclear Iraq Justifies Attack," said the headline of the lead story. The vice president had given a hard-line speech the day before, declaring that weapons inspections were basically futile. "A return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of his compliance with U.N. resolutions," Cheney had said. "On the contrary, there is a great danger that it would provide false comfort that Saddam was somehow 'back in his box.' "

    In the hands of a "murderous dictator," Cheney said, weapons of mass destruction are "as grave a threat as can be imagined. The risks of inaction are far greater than the risk of action." Cheney's speech was widely interpreted as administration policy. The tone was harsh and unforgiving. It mentioned consultations with allies but did not invite other countries to join a coalition.

    To Powell, it seemed like a preemptive attack on what he thought had been agreed to 10 days earlier -- to give the United Nations a chance. In addition, the swipe at weapons inspections was contrary to Bush's yearlong assertions that the next step should be to let the weapons inspectors back into Iraq. That was what everyone -- the United Nations and the United States -- had been fighting with Hussein about since 1998, when he had kicked the inspectors out.

    The day after Cheney's speech, Rumsfeld met with 3,000 Marines at Camp Pendleton in California. "I don't know how many countries will participate in the event the president does decide that the risks of not acting are greater than the risks of acting," Rumsfeld said. Powell could decode this: Cheney had asserted that the risks were in not acting, and Rumsfeld had said he didn't know how many countries would join if the president agreed with Cheney. Rumsfeld also said that doing the right thing "at the onset may seem lonesome" -- a new term for acting alone, in other words, unilateralism.

    To make matters worse, the BBC began releasing excerpts of an earlier interview that Powell had done in which he had said it would be "useful" to restart the weapons inspections. "The president has been clear that he believes weapons inspectors should return," Powell had said. "Iraq has been in violation of many U.N. resolutions for most of the last 11 or so years. And so, as a first step, let's see what the inspectors find. Send them back in."

    News stories appeared saying that Powell contradicted Cheney, or appeared to do so. Suddenly, Powell realized that the public impression of the administration's policy toward inspectors in Iraq was the opposite of what he knew it to be. Some editorial writers accused Powell of being disloyal. He counted seven editorials calling for his resignation or implying he should quit. From his perspective all hell was breaking loose. How could I be disloyal, he wondered, when I'm giving the president's stated position?

    When Powell returned from his vacation, he asked for another private meeting with the president. Rice joined them over lunch on Sept. 2, Labor Day, as Powell reviewed the confusion of August. Was it not the president's position that the weapons inspectors should go back into Iraq?

    Bush said it was, though he was skeptical that it would work. He reaffirmed that he was committed to going to the United Nations to ask for support on Iraq. In a practical sense that meant asking for a new resolution. Powell was satisfied as he left for South Africa to attend a conference.

    By Friday evening, Sept. 6, Powell was back, and he joined the principals at Camp David without the president.

    Cheney argued that to ask for a new resolution would put them back in the soup of the United Nations process -- hopeless, endless and irresolute. All the president should say is that Hussein is bad, has willfully violated, ignored and stomped on the U.N. resolutions of the past, and the United States reserves its right to act unilaterally.

    But that isn't asking for U.N. support, Powell replied. The United Nations would not just roll over, declare Hussein evil, and authorize the United States to strike militarily. The United Nations would not buy that. The idea was not saleable, Powell said. The president had already decided to give the United Nations a chance, and the only way to do that was to ask for a resolution.

    Cheney was beyond hell-bent for action against Hussein. It was as if nothing else existed.

    Powell attempted to summarize the consequences of unilateral action. He would have to close American embassies around the world if they went alone.

    That was not the issue, Cheney said. Hussein and the blatant threat were the issue.

    Maybe it would not turn out as the vice president thought, Powell said. War could trigger all kinds of unanticipated and unintended consequences.

    Not the issue, Cheney said.

    The conversation exploded into a tough debate, dancing on the edge of civility but not departing from the formal propriety that Cheney and Powell generally showed each other.

    The next morning the principals had an NSC meeting with the president. They did a rerun of the arguments, and Bush seemed comfortable asking the United Nations for a resolution.

    But during the speech-drafting process, Cheney and Rumsfeld continued to press. Asking for a new resolution would snag them in a morass of U.N. debate and hesitation, they said, opening the door for Hussein to negotiate with the United Nations. He would say the words of offering to comply but then, as always, stiff everyone.

    So the request for a resolution came out of the speech. Meetings on the drafting continued for days. The speech assailed the United Nations for not enforcing the weapons inspections in Iraq, specifically for the four years since Hussein had kicked them out.

    "You can't say all of this," Powell argued, "without asking them to do something. There's no action in this speech.

    "It says, 'Here's what he's done wrong; here's what he has to do to fix himself,' and then it stops?" Powell asked in some wonderment. "You've got to ask for something."

    So the principals then had a fight about what to ask for. They finally agreed that Bush should ask the United Nations to act.

    Powell accepted that, since the only way the United Nations really acted was through resolutions. So that was the implied action. Calling for a new resolution would have really nailed it, but the call to "act" was sufficient for Powell.


    Bush's Words to the U.N.


    Two days before the president was to go to the United Nations, Powell reviewed Draft No. 21 of the speech text the White House had sent him with EYES ONLY and URGENT stamped all over it. On Page 8, Bush promised to work with the United Nations "to meet our common challenge." There was no call for the United Nations to act.

    At a principals' committee meeting without the president just before Bush left for New York, Cheney voiced his opposition to having the president ask specifically for new resolutions. It was a matter of tactics and of presidential credibility, the vice president argued. Suppose the president asked and the Security Council refused? Hussein was a master bluffer. He'd cheat and retreat, find a way to delay what was required. What was necessary was getting Hussein out of power. If he attacked the United States or anyone with the weapons of mass destruction available to him -- especially on a large scale -- the world would never forgive them for inaction and giving in to the impulse to engage in semantic debates in U.N. resolutions.

    Rumsfeld said they needed to stand on principle, but he then posed a series of rhetorical questions, and did not come down hard about the language.

    Cheney and Powell went at each other in a blistering argument. It was Powell's internationalism versus Cheney's unilateralism.

    "I don't know if we got it or not," Powell told Armitage later.

    The night before the speech, Bush spoke with Powell and Rice. He had decided he was going to ask for new resolutions. At first he thought he would authorize Powell and Rice to say after his speech that the United States would work on them with the United Nations. But he had concluded he might as well say it himself in the speech. He liked the policy headline to come directly from him. He ordered that a sentence be inserted near the top of Page 8, saying he would work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary "resolutions." It was added to the next and final draft, No. 24.

    "He's going to have it in there," Powell reported to Armitage.

    At the podium in the famous General Assembly hall, Bush reached the portion of the speech where he was to say he would seek resolutions. But the change hadn't made it into the copy that was put into the TelePrompTer. So Bush read the old line, "My nation will work with the U.N. Security Council to meet our common challenge."

    Powell was reading along with Draft No. 24, penciling in any ad-libs that the president made. His heart almost stopped. The sentence about resolutions was gone! He hadn't said it! It was the punch line!

    But as Bush read the old sentence, he realized that the part about resolutions was missing. With only mild awkwardness he ad-libbed it, saying later, "We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions."

    Powell breathed again.

    The president's speech was generally a big hit. It was widely praised for its toughness, its willingness to seek international support for his Iraq policy, and its effective challenge to the United Nations to enforce its own resolutions. It was a big boost for Powell, who stayed behind in New York to rally support for the policy, especially from Russia and France, who as permanent members of the Security Council could veto any resolution.

    The next day Iraq announced that it would admit new weapons inspectors. Few believed it was sincere. See, Cheney argued, the United States and the United Nations were being toyed with, played for fools.

    Bush believed a preemption strategy might be the only alternative if he were serious about not waiting for events. The realities at the beginning of the 21st century were two: the possibility of another massive, surprise terrorist attack similar to Sept. 11, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction -- biological, chemical or nuclear. Should the two converge in the hands of terrorists or a rogue state, the United States could be attacked, and tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of people could be killed.

    In addition, the president and his team had found that protecting and sealing the U.S. homeland was basically impossible. Even with heightened security and the national terrorist alerts, the country was only marginally safer. The United States had absorbed Pearl Harbor and gone on to win World War II. For the moment, the country had absorbed Sept. 11 and gone on to win the first phase of the war in Afghanistan. What would happen if there were a nuclear attack, killing tens or hundreds of thousands? A free country could become a police state. What would the citizens or history think of a president who had not acted in absolutely the most aggressive way? When did a defense require an active offense?

    Bush's troubleshooter, Condi Rice, felt the administration had little choice with Hussein.

    "The lesson of September 11: Take care of threats early," she said.

    But the president proceeded as if he were willing to give the United Nations a chance, and his public rhetoric softened. Instead of speaking only about regime change, he said his policy was to get Iraq to give up its weapons of mass destruction. "A military option is not the first choice," Bush told reporters on Oct. 1, "but disarming this man is."

    In a speech to the nation Monday, Oct. 7, the one-year anniversary of the commencement of the military strikes in Afghanistan, the president said that Hussein posed an immediate threat to the United States. As Congress debated whether to pass its own resolution authorizing the use of force against Hussein, Bush said war was avoidable and not imminent. "I hope this will not require military action," he said.

    This was all a victory for Powell, but perhaps only a momentary one. The scaled-down rhetoric did mean that the president could say no to Cheney and Rumsfeld, but it did not mean a lessening of Bush's fierce determination. As always, it was an ongoing struggle for the president's heart and mind.

    On Nov. 8, the U.N. Security Council approved a new resolution, 15 to 0, ordering Iraq to admit weapons inspectors. In a Rose Garden statement, the president praised Powell "for his leadership, his good work and his determination over the past two months."

    Mark Malseed contributed to this report.



    2002 The Washington Post Company
  5. by   SharonH, RN
    Thanks for posting this Ted. This is something else.





    Originally posted by efiebke

    Virtually all the Iraq discussions in the National Security Council had been about war plans -- how to attack, when, with what force levels, military strike scenario this and military strike scenario that. It was clear to him now that the context was being lost, the attitude and views of the rest of the world that Powell knew and lived with. His notes filled three or four pages.

    During the Persian Gulf War, when he had been chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell had played the role of reluctant warrior, arguing to the first President Bush, perhaps too mildly, that containing Iraq might work, that war might not be necessary. But as the principal military adviser, he hadn't pressed his arguments that forcefully because they were less military than political. Now as secretary of state, his account was politics -- the politics of the world. He decided he had to come down very hard, state his convictions and conclusions so there would be no doubt as to where he stood. The president had been hearing plenty from Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, a kind of A-team inside the war cabinet. Powell wanted to present the B-team, the alternative view that he believed had not been aired. He owed the president more than PowerPoint briefings.

    In Washington, he told Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, that he wanted to see the president.

    It had been a long, hard road that brought Powell to make that request. During his first months as secretary of state, he never really closed the personal loop with Bush, never established a comfort level -- the natural, at-ease state of closeness that both had with others.

    Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, felt Powell was beyond political control and operating out of a sense of entitlement. "It's constantly, you know, 'I'm in charge, and this is all politics, and I'm going to win the internecine political game,' " Rove said privately. Rove, for one, thought Powell had somehow lost a step, and that it was odd to see him uncomfortable in the presence of the president.

    Even after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Powell at times was isolated politically, and the White House kept him off the television talk shows. Powell and his deputy and closest friend, Richard L. Armitage, joked privately that Powell had been put in the "icebox" -- to be used only when needed.

    In early October 2001, the White House called Armitage and asked him to make the rounds on the television talk shows. He had little interest in appearing, and he politely declined. When they pressed, Armitage went to Powell and said, "Look, that's not my deal."

    "Nah, I'm in the icebox again," Powell replied. Maybe because he was pushing to release a white paper detailing evidence against Osama bin Laden. "We've got to get the story out, so go do it," he told Armitage.

    On Oct. 3, Armitage dutifully appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" and CNN's "Live This Morning."

    One of Powell's greatest difficulties was that he was more or less supposed to pretend in public that the sharp differences in the war cabinet did not exist. The president would not tolerate public discord. Powell was also held in check by his own code -- a soldier obeys.

    Well there you have it. More evidence that we, the American public are being manipulated by the Bush White House as run by Big Dick Cheney. They are choosing which propaganda they want to present to the American public, and attempting to stifle opposing views which do not agree with their hard line.

    Bush might order, Go get the guns! Get my horses! -- all the Texas, Alamo macho that made Powell uncomfortable. But he believed and hoped that the president knew better, that he would see the go-it-alone approach did not stand further analysis. Hopefully, the success in the first phase of the war in Afghanistan had provided the template for that understanding.

    The ghosts in the machine in Powell's view were Rumsfeld and Cheney. Too often they went for the guns and the horses.




    Powell still had not squared his relationship with the president. During the first half of 2002, Armitage had received reliable reports that Rumsfeld was requesting and having periodic private meetings with Bush. Powell was not particularly worried, because he could usually find out what had transpired through Rice, though she had had difficulties initially finding out herself.

    "It seems to me that you ought to be requesting some time with the president," Armitage suggested to Powell. Face time was critical, and it was a relationship that Powell had not mastered.


    In the late spring of 2002 -- some 16 months into the Bush presidency -- Powell started requesting private time with Bush. He did it through Rice, who sat in on the meetings that took place about once a week for 20 to 30 minutes. It seemed to help, but it was like his experience in the Middle East: no big breakthroughs.

    During the summer, Powell was over at the White House one day with time to kill before a meeting with Rice. The president spotted him and invited him into the Oval Office. They talked alone for about 30 minutes. They shot the breeze and relaxed. The conversation was about everything and nothing.

    "I think we're really making some headway in the relationship," Powell reported to Armitage afterward. The chasm seemed to be closing. "I know we really connected."


    The Big Picture and a Breakthrough


    It was in this context that Bush invited Powell and Rice to the White House residence on the evening of Monday, Aug. 5, to discuss Iraq. The meeting expanded into dinner and then moved to the president's office in the residence.

    Powell told Bush that as he was getting his head around the Iraq question, Bush needed to think about the broader issues, all the consequences of war.

    With his notes by his side, a double-spaced outline on loose-leaf paper, Powell said the president had to consider what a military operation against Iraq would do in the Arab world. He dealt with the leaders and foreign ministers in these countries as secretary of state. The entire region could be destabilized -- friendly regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan could be put in jeopardy or overthrown. Anger and frustration at America abounded. War could change everything in the Middle East.

    It would suck the oxygen out of just about everything else the United States was doing, not only in the war on terrorism, but also in all other diplomatic, defense and intelligence relationships, Powell said. The economic implications could be staggering, potentially driving the supply and price of oil in directions that were as-yet unimagined. All this in a time of an international economic slump. The cost of occupying Iraq after a victory would be expensive. The economic impact on the region, the world and the United States domestically had to be considered.


    Following victory, and Powell believed they would surely prevail, the day-after implications were giant. What of the image of an American general running an Arab country for some length of time? he asked. A General MacArthur in Baghdad? This would be a big event within Iraq, the region and the world. How long would it last? No one could know. How would success be defined?

    "It's nice to say we can do it unilaterally," Powell told the president bluntly, "except you can't." A successful military plan would require access to bases and facilities in the region, overflight rights. They would need allies. This would not be the Gulf War, a nice two-hour trip from a fully cooperative Saudi Arabia over to Kuwait City -- the target of liberation just 40 miles away. Now the geography would be formidable. Baghdad was a couple of hundred miles across Mesopotamia.

    The Middle East crisis was still ever-present. That was the issue the Arab and Muslim world wanted addressed. A war on Iraq would open Israel to attack by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who had launched Scud missiles at it during the Gulf War.

    Hussein was crazy, a menace, a real threat, unpredictable, but he had been largely contained and deterred since the Gulf War. A new war could unleash precisely what they wanted to prevent -- Hussein on a rampage, a last desperate stand, perhaps using his weapons of mass destruction.

    On the intelligence side, as the president knew, the problem was also immense, Powell said. They had not been able to find Osama bin Laden, Mohammad Omar and other al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in Afghanistan. They didn't know where Hussein was. He had all kinds of tricks and deceptions. He had an entire state at his disposal to hide in. They did not need another possibly fruitless manhunt.

    This is really frightening. I wonder if there are those who would claim that Powell, a man who used to be the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and who has access to all the same information that Bush does is "misguided" in his attempts to avert war?
    Last edit by SharonMH31 on Nov 17, '02
  6. by   donmurray
    Scary stuff indeed, especially since I read somewhere that up to a dozen of the President's "cabinet" are ex-CEO's from the oil industry.
  7. by   rncountry
    "Why of course the people don't want war ... But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship ...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger." --Hermann Goering, Nazi leader, at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II
  8. by   kmchugh
    I have said repeatedly that in most elections, I feel anymore that I am voting against someone, rather than for someone. That was true in the last presidential election. However, had Powell run for president, I would have gladly voted FOR Powell. I was in the service, in the Gulf when he was C-JCS. I was also stationed in Europe in a strategic intelligence unit when Powell was a three star general, commanding the V Corps. I had the great fortune of meeting him briefly, once. Before he was famous, he was one of my personal "heros." Powell is, in my estimation, a fine and honorable man. He has a dignity, a presence, an innate intelligence, and an ability to command in the fashion of an Eisenhower.

    Generally, I like Bush as president. Certainly, he has met the challenges of 9/11 better than Gore would have. But, in all this, I would freely admit that some of his shortcomings are also apparent. His highest office before becoming president was Governor of Texas. Though, by most accounts, he did a good job, he was ill prepared to deal with international problems and military issues. In voting for Bush, I hoped he would surround himself with good people who could guide him through those areas he was less well prepared for. I was highly encouraged that he appointed Powell to a high cabinet position. The old saw is generally true. No one wants to go to war less than one who has been there.

    Powell's experience, intelligence, and experience have well prepared him for the place he now finds himself. I'm glad he put the brakes on what was seemingly a runaway train. I'm still pretty sure Hussein will precipitate a war with Iraq. But, by not acting as the "lone gunman," by not rushing to attack without exhausting other options, Bush and the US will be able to rely on the support of other allies if and when the war occurs.

    Even I recognize that the days of single handedly going to war without exhausting other options are over. Or should be if they are not.

    Kevin McHugh
    Last edit by kmchugh on Nov 17, '02
  9. by   sbic56
    Generally, I like Bush as president. Certainly, he has met the challenges of 9/11 better than Gore would have.
    kmchugh

    Tell me ...can just anybody get these type of telepathic powers or is this gift reserved for a chosen few...say Bush supporters?

    Secondly, just how did Bush "meet the challenges" of 9/11 in any special way? I don't have any real criticisms of his response, but I didn't see anything above and beyond what any president would have done.

    I do think he'd be much less popular now if it weren't for 9/11. It seems awful to say that , I know, but Americans, (and all people for that matter), tend to follow their leader in time of crisis. Remember, he really just won the election by default in the first place. (But, I don't want to get into that one either.)
  10. by   kmchugh
    Originally posted by sbic56
    kmchugh

    Tell me ...can just anybody get these type of telepathic powers or is this gift reserved for a chosen few...say Bush supporters?

    Secondly, just how did Bush "meet the challenges" of 9/11 in any special way? I don't have any real criticisms of his response, but I didn't see anything above and beyond what any president would have done. ...

    Remember, he really just won the election by default in the first place. (But, I don't want to get into that one either.)
    Well, since you ask, and hang it out there to get shot off....

    One really needs no special powers of clairvoyance to know that Algore could not have coped with the crises that have confronted our nation in the time since 9/11. One need only look at his track record while he was the number 2 banana. And the response goes directly your second comment, about Bush doing what any president would have done. When Americans were attacked by terrorists, the Clinton - Gore administration response was always weak and ineffectual. As when an aspirin factory was destroyed by a cruise missile.

    Bin-Laden, on 9/11, could have been sitting in a US prison for his involvement in prior attacks. A foreign country offered to extradite him to the US, but Clinton - Gore turned the offer down, apparently between verses of "We Are the World." And Clinton - Gore obviously never understood the use or application of military force, and refused to appoint advisors with such understanding. Prior to a missile attack on a purported terrorist training camp, where Bin-Laden was thought to be making an appearance, Clinton was told by senior military official that such an attack was unlikely to have any effect whatsoever, and had about a one in one million chance of getting Osama. Clinton went ahead. Military strategy under Clinton - Gore was limited to long range missile attacks interspersed with occasional air strikes. The refuge of the incompetent military strategist.

    Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, Bush consulted his advisors, and set policy that we WOULD discover who was behind the attacks, and directed his military advisors to come up with plans to deal with those people. Since the Taliban was determined to be a major supporter of the terrorists, Bush asked military advisors "what do we need to do to deal with this threat." He listened to the answers, and when the time came, he did exactly what the commander in chief should do: He directed a mission to be accomplished, gave parameters for the accomplishment of that mission, then released the real military minds to do their work. He did not interfere, he did not dictate specific battle orders, and he did not countermand the orders of those in charge of the operation. He didn't pick the targets, nor the time on target, for US cruise missiles, knowing that such decisions need to be made by the command in country for maximum effect.

    As to your final comment, about the election being given to Bush by default, every time I read this, I laugh myself silly at the absolute refusal of some democrats to accept the truth. The votes were counted, and were recounted BY THE PRESS. Not the most dyed in the wool conservatives out there. Guess what? Bush won, and won by a somewhat larger margin than was originally suspected. Please, for your own mental well being: Get over it.

    Kevin McHugh
    Last edit by kmchugh on Nov 27, '02
  11. by   sbic56
    kmchugh

    That was a nice piece you wrote to back your opinion, but of course, it was short on facts because there are none. I am amused that you could project Gore's behavior in such a hypothetical situation. I don't doubt that you know your politics and have enjoyed reading your posts even though I ususally don't agree.

    Actually, I think Bush did OK initially after 9/11, but over the past several months he has become so intent on fixing everything that he is getting overly aggressive, which I think is turning our world power status into world bully status. I am afraid that this tactic is going to bite us in the ass eventually.

    And, BTW, I am not a democrat. I am registered as an independent. Sadly, I did vote Gore mainly as the lesser of two evils. I hope the Dems find a better candidate for 2004.
  12. by   kmchugh
    WHat facts do you need? Here are the facts I offered:

    -Clinton - Gore responded to terrorist incidents with ineffectual rocket attacks on either non-targets or targets with dubious value at best.

    -Clinton - Gore were offered Bin Laden in what would have been a legal extradition. They turned him down.

    -Gore, by all counts, lost the election.

    Just saying that I offered no facts in no way alters these historical facts. These have been proven and documented.

    One more fact: Mr "I invented the internet" Al Gore was no more honest than his mentor Bill Clinton. He was, however somewhat less courageous. At the demand of Hillary, what had historically been the VP office became the first lady's office at the outset of the Clinton administration. While infuriated, Gore had not the courage to stand up to Hillary face to face (read Unlimited Access).

    Kevin McHugh

    Kevin McHugh
  13. by   sbic56
    kmchugh


    In response to your "facts":

    --One military blunder does not predict how Gore would've performed post 9/11. If it weren't for 9/11 we wouldn't even be chasing terrorists. We never took them to seriously until they attacked us on our own soil. Sad, but so, and I suppose human nature. I don't see where we made a whole lot of progress against the terrorists by bombing the hell out of the Afghan desert and it's people. Al Quada is as strong as ever, because their stregth was not in the desert.


    --Most peolpe never even heard of Bin laden prior 9/11. Was he even recognized as such an ominous threat? Can your offer proof that is so? I am sincerely asking that question. We were even funding him for a bit, as I recall.

    --That Gore lost the election will always be debated. There was no clear winner as far as I am concerned. Case closed on that one, please.


    __On the honestly piece: Show me an "honest" politician, and I'll believe pigs fly. The jury is still out on the involvement Bush had in Enron. Politicians lie. I accept that.
  14. by   teeituptom
    Howdy yall
    from deep in the heart of Texas

    I like the title to this thread. a little interesting insight, yes very little interesting is more like it.

    lets start off

    1. when he owned the texas Rangers, they couldnt even have a winning season.

    2. as a Governor lets go on.
    a. he bankrupted the states economy and wasted the state surplus that was available.
    b. this has caused a reduction in police forces in various sections of the state.
    c. due to his decisions, there are now a much higher percentage of single women without any insurance whatsoever.
    d. there is a higher percentage of uninsured children in this state.
    e.in Dallas county, due to cutbacks at a state level. There has been an extremely severe curtailment on mental health care for the indigent.
    f. some of the problems with the insurance industry in texas can be laid to decisions made by G.W.Bush.
    g. Texas is one of the richest states in the union yet the educational system diminished under Bush to where Texas rates near the bottom nationwide in educational testing.

    So someone please show me where he did such an excellent job as governor. I as a Texan for the last 2 decades do certainly miss the humanity offered by Ann Richards when she was in office.

    I wont discuss the election.

    As far as his responses to 9/11, lets face it any president with military advisors would have performed the same. You put Clinton and Gore down for their long range missile deployment, but lets face it. They never faced a situation anywhere near as serious as 9/11. And praise the lord hopefully it will never happen again. To us or anyone else in the world.


    doo wah ditty from a Texan of 2 deacades

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