Tuesday, October 25, 2005

HOW SCARY IS THIS?


How Scary Is This?

By Bob Herbert

The New York Times

Monday 24 October 2005


The White House is sweating out the possibility that one or more top officials will soon be indicted on criminal charges. But the Bush administration is immune to prosecution for its greatest offense - its colossal and profoundly tragic incompetence.


Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, addressed the administration's arrogance and ineptitude in a talk last week that was astonishingly candid by Washington standards.


"We have courted disaster in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran," said Mr. Wilkerson. "Generally, with regard to domestic crises like Katrina, Rita ... we haven't done very well on anything like that in a long time. And if something comes along that is truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence."


The investigation of Karl Rove, Scooter Libby et al. is the most sensational story coming out of Washington at the moment. But the story with the gravest implications for the U.S. and the world is the overall dysfunction of the Bush regime. This is a bomb going "Tick, tick, tick . . ." What is the next disaster that this crowd will be unprepared to cope with? Or the next lunatic idea that will spring from its ideological bag of tricks?


Mr. Wilkerson gave his talk before an audience at the New America Foundation, an independent public policy institute. On the all-important matter of national security, which many voters had seen as the strength of the administration, Mr. Wilkerson said:


"The case that I saw for four-plus years was a case that I have never seen in my studies of aberrations, bastardizations, perturbations, changes to the national security decision-making process. What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made."


When the time came to implement the decisions, said Mr. Wilkerson, they were "presented in such a disjointed, incredible way that the bureaucracy often didn't know what it was doing as it moved to carry them out."


Where was the president? According to Mr. Wilkerson, "You've got this collegiality there between the secretary of defense and the vice president, and you've got a president who is not versed in international relations and not too much interested in them either."


One of the consequences of this dysfunction, as I have noted many times, is the unending parade of dead or badly wounded men and women returning to the U.S. from the war in Iraq - a war that the administration foolishly launched but now does not know how to win or end.


Mr. Wilkerson was especially critical of the excessive secrecy that surrounded so many of the most important decisions by the Bush administration, and of what he felt was a general policy of concentrating too much power in the hands of a small group of insiders. As much as possible, government in the United States is supposed to be open and transparent, and a fundamental principle is that decision-making should be subjected to a robust process of checks and balances.


While not "evaluating the decision to go to war," Mr. Wilkerson told his audience that under the present circumstances "we can't leave Iraq. We simply can't." In his view, if American forces were to pull out too quickly, the U.S. would end up returning to the Middle East with "five million men and women under arms" within a decade.


Nevertheless, he is appalled at the way the war was launched and conducted, and outraged by "the detainee abuse issue." In 10 years, he said, when this matter is "put to the acid test, ironed out, and people have looked at it from every angle, we are going to be ashamed of what we allowed to happen."


Mr. Wilkerson said he has taken some heat for speaking out, but feels that "as a citizen of this great republic," he has an obligation to do so. If nothing is done about the current state of affairs, he said, "it's going to get even more dangerous than it already is."

Snave's note: Maybe the Hydra doesn't have as many heads as we think. What would a Bush administration be like without Rove, Cheney, Libby and Rumsfeld? It likely won't turn out that way, and is probably just wishful thinking... but let's play "what if" with this one.

8 Comments:

Blogger Sheryl said...

I think there are an infinite amount of tyrrants in the Republican party, but if you chopped that many heads off the Hydra, then it would render who ever took over impotent.

Think of Gerald Ford after Nixon. There really wasn't much he could do if he had wanted to.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lawrence Wilkerson sounds like that rare entity: a high-ranking Republican with integrity.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Biff said...

Shocking, shocking.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Christopher I said...

Why is Lawrence Wilkerson only squealing now? Why didn't he squeal earlier, when the public were still singing hosannahs to the sagacity of George Bush.

Why did the the New York Times act as a cheer-leader for George Bush and his acolytes when they were cherry-picking the evidence to manufacture public consent for the Iraq invasion, when there were plenty of people advocating caution?

Why did the luninaries in the Democratic Party, including John Kerry and Hilary Clinton, vote in favour of the Iraq war?

Why did most Democrats in the Congress and Senate enable enable it to abrogate its constitutional power to authorize whether the US goes to war or not, by handing this authority to the President?

The pusillanimous Democrats who have now finally summoned up the courage to point out that the emperor George Bush has no clothes should not seek to know for whom the bell tolls, for it tolls for them.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

"pusillanimous Democrats"... tsk, tsk.

Maybe Wilkerson didn't squeal earlier because he was afraid of retaliation? Who knows.

"Why did the luninaries in the Democratic Party, including John Kerry and Hilary Clinton, vote in favour of the Iraq war?"

Maybe they were given the same general information Bush was given.

"Why did most Democrats in the Congress and Senate enable enable it to abrogate its constitutional power to authorize whether the US goes to war or not, by handing this authority to the President?"

I may not be voting for Democrats who supported the Iraq War in the Senate or the House, and I am a Democrat. This is because yes, they did hand that authority to a president that should have never had authority handed to him in the first place, ever, in my opinion. Of course I will look at the candidates and evaluate them individually, but if I even suspect a GOP candidate is not moderate or that he or she supports policies like those of the Bush administration, I won't consider giving them my vote.

"The pusillanimous Democrats who have now finally summoned up the courage to point out that the emperor George Bush has no clothes should not seek to know for whom the bell tolls, for it tolls for them."

If you refer here to what I was just referring to, I agree that it may be tougher for those incumbents who voted for the war to win in their next elections... Do you believe GOP candidates will be able to distance themselves enough from Bush to maintain control of the House and Senate?

What is worse, having the leaders of your party (i.e. the Bush admimistration and the neoconservative biggies) messing things up on a massive scale and quite possibly taking America to war under false pretenses, or having supported something Bush advocated (the war) because you got the same bad information he did?

This is just my opinion, but I think GOP candidates will have a much tougher time distancing themselves from Bush and the neoconservative movement than Democrat candidates will have when they admit they made mistakes voting for the war.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

My opinion is that the democrats thought that if they went ahead and voted for the war, then they could pick up a lot of seats in Congress in the election that was only a month later and then put the brakes on the war after the election.

They probably also figured that if they opposed the war, then they might win the battle, but they'd lose the war (to stop the invasion). Because they might win that particular vote, but if it cost them the November elections, then they would lose subsequent votes with the same intent. Because just because they might stop one attempt at gaining war powers does not mean you have stopped all attempts. For that, they would need a larger majority in Congress.

In my opinion, they still should have voted against the war, and I believe they lost seats for trying to be so pragmatic about it. Still. the Republicans are pragmatic about everything that they do, and it ever seems to hurt them.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Lizzy said...

It's hard to imagine Bush without his other heads. My guess is that if Rove & Co go away (please please,) new horrible nasty heads will grow in their place.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Damien said...

Considering the Harriet Myers just went down, I'm very interested in seeing how many more follow her out the window. I'm sensing a very real disconnect between POTUS and his party.

3:46 PM  

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