Monday, March 31, 2003
The Pravada on the Potomac more popularly known as The Washington Post oddly presents two interesting stories regarding Washington’s top concerns:
infighting and media coverage.
I think it’s a safe bet that the “senior government officials” described herein are none other than Donald Rumsfeld shown, doing what he does best, massaging a media who, to use their description of the President, grow more “Delphic and hard to read".
The first would be amusing if it were not so serious. The historically unread Howard Kurtz has a come to Jesus moment with the following revelation, “War, it turns out, is a far more messy enterprise.” The insightful Howie discovers “that journalists who eat and sleep with the people they cover tend to form bonds…feelings are even more intense when unarmed journalists must depend on heavily armed soldiers to protect them from enemy fire.” And, quite a shocker, we learn that Howie understands irony. “Ironically, some military leaders are critical of the embedded journalist program because reports from the field don't always square with official assessments.”
Then The Post presents this frightening Strangelovian portrait of our leadership troika.
…there is a behind-the-scenes effort by former senior Republican government officials and party leaders to convince President Bush that the advice he has received from (the) Vice President , Defense Secretary and Deputy Defense Secretary…has been wrong and even dangerous to long-term U.S. national interests…one former GOP appointee said he and his allies were looking at "whether this president has learned something from this bum advice he has been getting." Moreover, there is fear among some officials, especially in the State Department, that postwar diplomacy, if handled poorly, could result in further U.S. estrangement from allies and international institutions.
Bush, who appears to value tension among his top advisers, "has been very Delphic on this and hard to read" on the emerging internal debate, a Bush adviser said.
Administration officials…officially insist there is unity among Bush's senior national security advisers. But they also acknowledge that within this administration disputes among senior Cabinet officials are never really settled…a senior defense official said. "My concern about this sort of gossip is that it is very important to maintain the unity of this effort. It is not a time to get weak in the knees." The Iraqi government, the official added, will grab at "every little straw," and thus any suggestion of division in the top levels of the administration "plays into the hands of Baghdad's propaganda." A spokeswoman for Cheney declined to comment.
A subtext of the debate…reflects the internationalism of President George H.W. Bush…Indeed, the former president, in an interview published this week in Newsweek, twice defended Powell without prompting. "I hate criticism of Colin Powell from any quarter," he said. Some former and current officials viewed the remarks as a message to Powell's opponents within the administration.
"The only one who can reach the president is his father," one former senior official said. Many top officials suspect, though they don't have evidence, that Powell wields influence through this back channel…The president has, at various times, backed both sides of the debate…Powell dismissed suggestions that his advice has been ignored…Rumsfeld wants to retire the Powell Doctrine…
(Discussing Lt. Gen. William Wallace in) remarks that infuriated White House officials -- Powell said: "I have absolute confidence in the commanders who are running this war. . . . I know it. I trained them."…Powell also made…a jab at Wolfowitz, a frequent nemesis who did not serve in the military.
"When war comes, that's [casualties] the price that has to be paid," Powell said on NPR. "And it's paid not by intellectuals but by wonderful young Americans who serve their country and believe in the cause for which they are serving."