Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Blaming Others

The reason for the failures in Iraq are not George Bush's fault they are the fault of others.
Just whose brilliant idea was it to disband the Iraqi army? The former U.S. boss of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, says President Bush knew about and supported his plans to dissolve Saddam's military, according to letters he released to the New York Times yesterday.

Annoyed that Bush was quoted in a recent book as suggesting that he had gone a bit Rambo out in the desert, Bremer disclosed his spring 2003 correspondence with the president.

The impetus for Bremer's action was Bush's interview with Robert Draper, author of the new book "Dead Certain," in which the president sounded as if he had been taken aback by the decision.

"The policy had been to keep the army intact; didn't happen," Bush told Draper. When Draper asked how he had reacted when the policy changed, Bush replied, "Yeah, I can't remember. I'm sure I said, 'This is the policy, what happened?'"

Rumsfeld also serves as a major, if absent, character in today's sweeping USA Today investigation tracking the Defense Department's slowness to equip the troops in Iraq with protective gear like body armor and devices to jam signals from detonators.

Even as the president and Pentagon officials claimed they were doing all they could to get these items for the soldiers, the paper digs up documents suggesting that "the military cut or underfunded several programs and moved so slowly and grudgingly that members of Congress" had to step in with "extraordinary measures."

Interviewed officials complained of a refusal among top military brass at the beginning of the war to believe that the fighting would be anything but brief. Once things started to get bogged down, there was a "peacetime mentality" guiding acquisition of "up-armored vehicles," the paper reports.

In one particularly striking example, Pentagon officials "balked at pleas from battlefield commanders and their own analysts to provide the lifesaving MRAP, or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, for patrols and combat missions." Only after Rummy left and Robert Gates took over did the Pentagon embrace the MRAP.

Draper's account of the bulk of Bush's presidency sheds light on a loyal and secretive inner circle that, at least privately, was not always on the same page. Draper tells of an April 2006 dinner at which Bush asked aides for a show of hands on whether his divisive defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, should be fired.

The vote: 7-4 to get rid of him, with Bush siding with those who wanted him kept on for the time being. Rumsfeld was replaced after the elections that fall switched control of the House and Senate to Democrats.

White House aides who wanted Rumsfeld out were privately dismayed when retired generals called publicly for his ouster, fearing that would steel Bush's resolve to keep his defence chief, the book says.

Bush, without addressing that meeting, suggested to the author that the ex-generals did get under his skin. "My reaction was, 'No military guy is gonna tell a civilian how to react,"' he said.

Just like his failure to deal with Hurricane Katrina.

The latest book published about George W Bush reveals that the US president was not fully engaged in key policy areas, including the disbandment of the Iraqi army and the build-up to Hurricane Katrina.

At a briefing at his Crawford ranch the day before the hurricane made landfall, Mr Bush was "gassed" after an 80-minute bike ride and asked no supplementary questions following a briefing from advisers. He merely assured them the federal government was prepared to help.


Daddy's Boy

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