October 22, 2005

Powell aide blasts administration foreign policy "cabal"

Here's how two sources reported the speech by former Colin Powell aide Col. Lawrence Wilkerson to the New America Foundation.
WASHINGTON -- U.S. foreign policy is being made in secret by a small "cabal" of powerful people like Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, a former top Bush administration official charged yesterday.

Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired U.S. Army colonel who was chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell until they left office in January, unleashed possibly the broadest attack on the Bush administration from one of its own since former Counter Terrorism Chief Richard Clarke last year.

Wilkerson said "we have courted disaster in Iraq, North Korea and Iran" and said that if there is another attack in the U.S. such as a nuclear explosion in a U.S. city "you are going to see the ineptitude of this government."

He accused President George W. Bush of "cowboyism" in dealing with foreign leaders and said that Cheney and Rumsfeld and others could not be kept under control by a president "not versed in international relations and not too interested in them either."

The White House did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Speaking at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank, Wilkerson said his central complaint was that too much power was centered in too few people who kept the rest of the bureaucracy in the dark.

There was a "cabal between Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld on critical decisions that the bureaucracy did not know was being made."

Asked what role Bush played with the "cabal," Wilkerson said the president "was very integral to the process. When the president's [intervention] was needed the president's office was entered by one person and the president's consent was obtained," Wilkerson said.

Then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, who succeeded Powell, failed to intervene to stop the "cabal" because she made a calculated decision "to build her intimacy with the president," rather than confront his other advisers, Wilkerson charged.

He indicated that this flawed, secretive process contributed to what he thought was a bad decision to go to war in Iraq.

But Wilkerson said that any decision by the Bush administration to leave Iraq "precipitously" would result in Iraq's neighbors sending in troops and creation of a breeding ground for terrorists like Afghanistan, leading to another major war involving the United States.

"We will have to go back and take the Middle East within a decade," if that happens, he said.

The Bush administration never planned for what would happen in Iraq after the war, he said.

"There was simply no plan with regard to postwar Iraq," other than some contingencies for humanitarian assistance, he said.

Wilkerson said that Powell, for whom he worked for 16 years at the Pentagon as well as at State, did not agree with his decision to go public with his criticisms, and it had led to a breach between them.

Powell is "one of the world's most loyal soldiers and feels we will overcome these problems," Wilkerson said.
Colin Powell's right-hand man has launched a blistering attack on the White House, describing President George W Bush as "cowboyish", his secretary of state Condoleezza Rice as "extremely weak" and American foreign policy as "courting disaster".

The attack came from Col Larry Wilkerson, who for four years was Mr Powell's chief of staff at the state department during the first Bush administration.

In a sometimes savagely phrased speech at a Washington think-tank, the former US marine said that the Bush team had so damaged the country's foreign policy machine that he was "not sure that the state department even exists any more".

The result was that America's relations with the world had taken a pounding. Asked about the efforts by Mr Bush's key aide Karen Hughes to sell America to the Muslim world he said: "It's hard to sell shit." In remarks quoted by the Washington Post, Col Wilkerson said: "If you're unilaterally declaring Kyoto dead, if you're declaring the Geneva Conventions not operative, if you're doing a host of things that the world doesn't agree with you on and you're doing it blatantly and in their face, without grace, then you've got to pay the consequences."

The speech lifted the lid on the disagreements that were hinted at but rarely admitted for most of the first Bush term.

Mr Powell was known to feel that he was cut out of foreign policy-making by the vice-president, Dick Cheney, and the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

Col Wilkerson said that had damaged America's foreign policy. "What I saw was a cabal," he said. Bypassing the state department, America had "courted disaster in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran".

He added: "You've got a president who is not versed in international relations and not too much interested in them either."
The tragedy is that not many people spoke up sooner about this run-amuk "cabal" and that Powell let his loyalty to Bush destroy his highly regarded reputation.

The full transcript of Wilkerson's damning remarks as well as commentary can be found at "The Washington Note" here.


At 10/22/2005 7:00 AM, Blogger Dave Barrett said...

What is amazing to me is that Bush was reelected because a significant percentage of the voters felt that in an increasingly unsafe world he would protect them. Only after the botched response to Katrina are they now seeing how wrong they were.
You might think that after seeing how flawed their process of decision making was they would be rethinking all their basic assumptions and possibly adopting a completely different political outlook. Unfortunately, I see no evidence that people are making any fundamental change to how they see the world and society and relationship to the world and their place in and responsibility to society and each other. Without making such changes they are sure to continue making flawed judgements and decisions that they will later regret - such as their decision to twice vote for Bush in order to be safe and then discover that he has dismantled all the institutions that had been protected them.

At 10/22/2005 10:38 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

It's a testiment to the massive lavishly funded myth-making machinery brought to bear by the right. It's scale is unprecidented, including many think tanks which churn out "experts" who in turn generate press with their books, papers, etc., and they're sure to make certain that they get booked on cable shows, etc. This gets their far-out ideas to appear legitimate.

There's thousands of AM radio mouthpieces who literally get their daily instructions directly from the RNC and White House.

The right has spend hundreds of millions of dollars to literally create their own parallel media, and in so doing, have caused the traditional media to be perverted and distorted. By spending even more millions to promote the utterly false "liberal bias" myth in people's minds, they've succeeded in intimidating the traditional press into being artificially tilted to the right.

It's nothing short of a massive, coordinated attemtpt to simply brainwash the public using state of the art PR and advertising techniques.

The American public has truly be "sold" a product. We can only hope that they're deciding to return it as defective.

At 10/22/2005 10:52 PM, Blogger diehard said...

It makes me wonder how long have the Republicans been planing the "War on Terror"?!
During the Ford Administration were Cheney,Rumsfeld, and Karl Rove cut their teeth, they were involved in terrorist training.
One of the scenarios was planes crashing into skyskrapers in New York and other large cities.
Not only did the Cheney administration want this war,they want to keep it going indefinetly!!


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