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America's Debate > Archive > Election Forum Archive > [A] Election 2006
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Julian
NeoCons turn on Bush administration's handling of Iraq War

I wasn't sure whether to post this debate here, or in the "War on Terror" forum; clealry, it has implications for both.

The new issue of Vanity Fair magazine carries interviews with several of the architects of the neoconservative project, including Richard Perle and Kenneth Adelman, to "lambast" the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq War.

Some choice nuggets include:
QUOTE
According to Perle, who left the Defense Policy Board in 2004, this unfolding catastrophe has a central cause: devastating dysfunction within the administration of President George W. Bush. Perle says, "The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly.… At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible.… I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty."

...snip...

To David Frum, the former White House speechwriter who co-wrote Bush's 2002 State of the Union address that accused Iraq of being part of an "axis of evil," it now looks as if defeat may be inescapable, because "the insurgency has proven it can kill anyone who cooperates, and the United States and its friends have failed to prove that it can protect them." This situation, he says, must ultimately be blamed on "failure at the center"—starting with President Bush.

...snip...

And if he, too, had his time over, Adelman says, "I would write an article that would be skeptical over whether there would be a performance that would be good enough to implement our policy. The policy can be absolutely right, and noble, beneficial, but if you can't execute it, it's useless, just useless. I guess that's what I would have said: that Bush's arguments are absolutely right, but you know what, you just have to put them in the drawer marked can't do. And that's very different from let's go."

...snip...

Michael Ledeen, American Enterprise Institute freedom scholar: "Ask yourself who the most powerful people in the White House are. They are women who are in love with the president: Laura [Bush], Condi, Harriet Miers, and Karen Hughes."

...snip...

Eliot Cohen, director of the strategic-studies program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and member of the Defense Policy Board: "I wouldn't be surprised if what we end up drifting toward is some sort of withdrawal on some sort of timetable and leaving the place in a pretty ghastly mess.… I do think it's going to end up encouraging various strands of Islamism, both Shia and Sunni, and probably will bring de-stabilization of some regimes of a more traditional kind, which already have their problems.… The best news is that the United States remains a healthy, vibrant, vigorous society. So in a real pinch, we can still pull ourselves together. Unfortunately, it will probably take another big hit. And a very different quality of leadership. Maybe we'll get it."


So, we have Perle saying that the idea of removing Saddam was a good one (and admitting that he underestimated the potential for chaos and bloodshed among Iraqis themselves) but was badly-implemented by an administration; Adelman saying that, with hindsight, the goal was good but was in essence unachievable; Frum saying that Bush isn't the great leader that many on the right still believe him to be, and certainly not equal to the task he set himself in Iraq; Cohen sayin gmuch the same (good goal, poor leadership); and Ledeen making a veiled swipe at there being too many women in powerful White House positions (presumably women aren't bloodthirsty or strategic enough to get the job done!!).

All this criticism of the Bush White House isn't due for full publication until the December issue, on sale after the polls close on Tuesday. However, all these interviews have already taken place, and (at the time of writing) there is no sense that those interviewed wanted their comments to be embargoed until after the elections, so they must have been aware that they would have become public before publication (not least for marketing reasons - I'd be surprised if the December issue of Vanity Fair will be the year's biggest seller on the pre-publicity for this story alone).

My questions for debate:
How much impact will this story have on Republican fortunes in this week's elections?

How badly will it damage the Bush Administration, and embolden Congressional critics (on all sides - these neocon critics are generally on the right, not the left) to withdraw support for them?


Typically, in British politics, when internal party criticism and arguments become public sniping like this, not only is political leadership damaged, but the entire party is damaged - voters like to see political unity and coherence, not competing policies within the same platform. American politics operates under a different system, but it's hard for me to imagine that this does not have the potential to profoundly damage Republican politics for perhaps a decade or more.

How will this eruption of neoconservative criticism of an ostensibly neoconservative administration affect the longer-term direction and electoral prospects of the Republican party, in the 2008 Presidential elections and beyond?
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Christopher
The rats are fleeing the ship as it sinks. On their way out they are also illustrating their true colors as they stick knives in the backs of those they conned into following their ideas in the first place.
As badly as I think Bush's WOT plans are going I wouldn't call it a lost cause yet by any means, yet at the first signs that their prestige may be damaged they immediately begin the blame game and show their true colors as they begin to assault the character of those who took them up on their ideas and plans.
in reading the pieces of the article I am not surprised at the arrogance that radiates from them,
QUOTE
"I would write an article that would be skeptical over whether there would be a performance that would be good enough to implement our policy.


This one gets me the most
QUOTE
I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty."

He clearly thinks that the Administration should be treated as a kingdom. Are members of any administration supposed to act as Samurai, to fall on their swords instead of disagree with the President?
It is an important part of their positions to question the President's choices if need be.

I am a big believer and supporter of "As you sow, so shall you Reap", and I hope these Neocon losers get it all back in Spades.
AuthorMusician
How much impact will this story have on Republican fortunes in this week's elections?

I don't see this as being especially important for the upcoming election, but I can see it as enormously important for the 2008 season. What is happening among neo-conservatives is gravely important to how the Republican Party is structured today. Its structure is that of the largest corporation in the world, and when in power, it is. We became The United Corporation of America with GWB as CEO. The neo-cons won't admit it, but the biggest problem with the Iraq adventure has been corporate thinking. Somebody's not jumping onto the bandwagon? Fire that person.

How badly will it damage the Bush Administration, and embolden Congressional critics (on all sides - these neocon critics are generally on the right, not the left) to withdraw support for them?

The next two years will be very difficult for the Bush admin, especially if the Republicans retain the Senate. The House isn't so important. A Republican Senate will want the Bush admin to start fixing things in order that the Republican Party can build some semblence of credibility before the 2008 season.

Now, with the mind of the corporation jumping overboard, I think no matter what happens that the Republican Party will experience serious tectonics, possibly splitting apart. If not splitting, then I think many current Republicans will run as independents in the future.

I think of it this way: the Party had a period of mergers, and now that its structure no longer functions, it must shed weight.

How will this eruption of neoconservative criticism of an ostensibly neoconservative administration affect the longer-term direction and electoral prospects of the Republican party, in the 2008 Presidential elections and beyond?

Looks to me that it's in the cards for a period of chaos for the Republican Party. You see, the Party has turned so far right as to drag the Democrats into the middle and even to the right as well. Typically, a party that runs into this kind of trouble will run to the center, but know what?

Democrats already hold that territory.

Remember Reagan Democrats? What about Hillary Republicans? It could happen.
Christopher
Follow up on response to Vanity Fair article leak

Responses from the neocons in the article is that their comments are very much out of context and that this was deliberate. Vanity Fair seems to have a rep as very anti Bush. Yet I agree with the blogger that it seems strange they would offer up such interviews to them.
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