Salad days: Wolfowitz and Bush
In a post on Bill Kristol’s appearance in New York, Scott McConnell reminds us that George W. Bush called Kristol and Charles Krauthammer “the bomber boys” because they pressured him to bomb Iran. McConnell says the neocons may have had George W. Bush wrapped up, but he had real misgivings about them.
I just got Bush’s book, Decision Points (2010). And it shows some real passive-aggressive tendencies with respect to the neocons.
Here’s Bush’s sole reference to neocon Paul Wolfowitz, during a post-911 meeting on Afghanistan:
At one point, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz suggested that we consider confronting Iraq as well as the Taliban…. [Saddam's regime] had a long record of supporting terrorism, including paying the families of Palestinian suicide bombers…. Colin cautioned against it.
Oh so it was Wolfie’s stupid idea. And it was because of Palestinians suicide bombers.
Here’s Bush’s sole reference to neocon Elliott Abrams, during the runup to the Iraq war in 2003:
Two of our biggest concerns were starvation and refugees…. An estimated two million Iraqis could be displaced from their homes during war. On January 15, Elliott Abrams, a senior NSC staffer, delivered a detailed briefing on our preparations. We planned to prestation food, blankets, medicine, tents, etc.
Translation: Abrams told me everything was under control.
Here’s some other great advice Bush got. It’s his sole reference to Elie Wiesel:
In the winter of 2003, I sought opinions on Iraq from a variety of sources…. One of the most fascinating people I met with was Elie Wiesel, the author, Holocaust survivor, and deserving Nobel Prize recipient. Elie is a sober and gentle man. But there was passion in his seventy-four-year-old eyes when he compared Saddam Hussein’s brutality to the Nazi genocide. “Mr. President,” he said, “you have a moral obligation to act against evil.” The force of his conviction affected me deeply. Here was a man who had devoted his life to peace urging me to intervene in Iraq…
I’ve always wondered why many critics of the war did not acknowledge the moral argument made by people like Elie Wiesel.
Well because it was unhinged, Mr. President, as you note yourself.
Neocons Fred Kagan, Eliot Cohen, and Robert Kaplan all get namechecked too, as war supporters at a time when Baghdad is “hell, Mr. President.”
Curiously, there are no references in the book to Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Bernard Lewis, David Wurmser, David Frum, Bill Kristol or that other bomber boy Charles Krauthammer re war policy.
George Bush seems to want to forget his neocon captivity as a bad dream. Frum came up with the term “axis of evil”! But he gets no airtime?!
Oh, by the way, Bush does say that he and Condi Rice solved the Israel Palestinian conflict.
By the time I left, the Palestinians had a president and prime minister who rejected terrorism. The Israelis had withdrawn from some settlements and supported a two-state solution. And Arab nations were playing an active role in the peace process.
No sweat. Time for horseshoes!
P.S. I blame the neocons too. It was their idea, and almost all of them cited Palestinian suicide bombers, as if that was our problem. But someone had to execute their theory…