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Friday, October 10, 2003

Bush sends his regrets?

Around 1 pm ET today, David Gergen was on CNN talking about the Thomas DeFrank piece in today's NY Daily News. Gergen went out of his way to describe DeFrank as close to the Bush White House and particularly well informed about the Pentagon.

Obviously, there's been a lot of talk about the latest Iraq-related policy (and PR) move by the administration. However, Gergen implies there is much more going on than merely the rise of Condi Rice and the relative decline of Rumsfeld (Atrios thinks the Defense Secretary could be gone later today...).

So far, I cannot find any stories on about the segment, but Gergen was strongly implying that the President has a lot of regrets about Iraq policy.

DeFrank's story begins by declaring that Powell and Rumsfeld are going to be out of jobs soon (whether Bush is reelected or not) because Bush is unhappy with his foreign policy team:
President Bush's overhaul of his top Iraq strategists reflects deep unhappiness with his national security team - particularly Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld but also Secretary of State Powell, Bush sources told the Daily News yesterday.

Bush's displeasure means that neither Powell nor Rumsfeld will keep his job in a second Bush term, the sources said.
Very important, especially for Gergen, is that the root of the displeasure is postwar Iraq (and Afghanistan):
"The President feels let down," one well-placed source told The News. "He feels as if Rumsfeld was unwilling to come and get help [for the postwar effort] and thinks his inability to trust anyone other than his immediate subordinates created a serious, ongoing problem in both Afghanistan and Iraq."

Moreover, the source added, "After the war, Rumsfeld wanted to get back to [Pentagon] modernization and transformation and took his eye off the ball."
I'm not sure what to make of Gergen's angle. If Bush has regrets, why are Dick Cheney, Rice and the President going out of their way to play up threats this week?

Oh, oh, oh, I know. They don't regret going into Iraq without very many real allies or occupying Iraq without a clear rebuilding plan.

They regret that they have been unable to keep everyone focused on the big picture (i.e., the "war on terrorism"), especially since war is best sold by playing up threats.

As the President said yesterday:
"Yet wars are won on the offensive -- and our friends and America are staying on the offensive....After all the action we have taken, after all the progress we have made against terror, there is a temptation to think the danger has passed.

The terrorists continue to plot and plan against our country and our people. America must not forget the lessons of September 11th. (Applause.) America cannot retreat from our responsibilities and hope for the best. Our security will not be gained by timid measures. Our security requires constant vigilance and decisive action. I believe America has only one option: We must fight this war until the work is done.

So far, in Iraq, they've found a test tube of a common toxin and 2 mobile facilities that neither the DIA nor State Department intell people think were designed for making biological weapons. They also discovered fuel for firing SCUDS. Stop me when you start to get worried about this stuff.

Russia has much worse WMD-related material left over from the cold war that is barely guarded and both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have produced many more fanatically committed potential terrorists with access to money (and conceivably WMD).

Yet, these states are partners, not targets, of the war on terror.

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