Furious arguments and personal animosity within President
Bush’s War Cabinet, in which Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, is
frequently at odds with the Administration’s leading hawks, have been vividly
detailed in a book. (AFP photo)...
Colin Powell: the lesser Bush Hawk
It is nice to know that there is some degree of sanity in the Bush
cabinet. It is nice to know that Colin Powell has not lost his sanity
along with the rest of the Bush warmongers.
The question is whether or not Powell will eventually resign. If he
does, it will be a black day for Americans who will be forced to attack Iraq
because of neo-Nazis Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush.
November 18, 2002
November 18, 2002
Bush's War Cabinet is riven by feuding
From Tim Reid in Washington
FURIOUS arguments and
personal animosity within President Bush’s War Cabinet, in which
Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, is frequently at odds with
the Administration’s leading hawks, have been vividly detailed
in a book.
The account by Bob Woodward, the Washington Post journalist
who uncovered the Watergate scandal, exposes for the first time
the extent to which Mr Bush’s top advisers clashed over how to
confront President Saddam Hussein and describes in extraordinary
detail the tensions that pit General Powell against Dick Cheney,
the Vice-President, and Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary.
Although differences of approach within the Administration
about how to disarm Saddam are well documented, the scale of
personal acrimony has not been revealed before.
Bush At War draws on four hours of interviews with the
President, more than 100 interviews with key Administration
officials and notes from 50 meetings of the National Security
In it, Mr Woodward describes General Powell’s struggle to
build a relationship with Mr Bush and his fury when told that
officials in the Pentagon and the VicePresident’s office were
briefing against him.
It describes the role played by Karl Rove, the President’s
chief strategist and political Svengali, in shaping the hawks’
mistrust of General Powell. During the 2000 presidential campaign,
Mr Rove “detected a subtle, subversive tendency” in General
Powell. That antipathy continued well into the Administration,
because Mr Rove “felt Powell was beyond political control and
operating out of a sense of entitlement”. One of the most
explosive episodes occurred during General Powell’s trip to the
Middle East in April. Having being sent by Mr Bush to try to quell
a rising cycle of Israeli-Palestinian violence, General Powell
received a call in Jerusalem from Richard Armitage, his deputy at
the State Department. He conveyed to General Powell the
Administration’s edict that the Secretary of State “scale
back” his planned press statement, making less of a White House
commitment to future Middle East negotiations.
“Powell went nuts,” Mr Woodward writes. General Powell told
his deputy that he had been sent on an “impossible mission”.
Then Mr Armitage told the Secretary of State: “They’re eating
cheese on you”, an old military expression for hurting someone
and enjoying it. Officials in the Defence Department and
Vice-President’s office were “trying to do him in”, Mr
Armitage told his boss.
“That’s unbelievable,” General Powell replied. “I have
just heard the same thing.” He had spoken to reporters
travelling with him, who had reported that their sources within Mr
Cheney’s office were declaring that General Powell “had gone
too far, and was off the reservation”.
By this summer, General Powell had heard that Mr Rumsfeld was
requesting and having private meetings with the President. The
Secretary of State, anxious that his own relationship with the
President was at times awkward and distant, started to request
private time with Mr Bush. He made the request through Condoleezza
Rice, the President’s National Security Adviser, and the
meetings took place once a week, with Ms Rice in attendance.
That led to the crucial White House dinner on August 5 with Mr
Bush and Ms Rice, revealed as a Powell ally in the internecine
debate, in which General Powell, using four pages of notes on
loose-leaf paper, persuaded Mr Bush that he must seek United
Nations authorisation for an attack on Iraq.
“It’s nice to say we can do it unilaterally,” General
Powell told Mr Bush. “Except you can’t.” The UN strategy was
subsequently agreed on by the entire War Cabinet.
However, in a meeting two days before Mr Bush was due to
address the UN General Assembly on September 12, Mr Cheney,
“beyond hell-bent for action against Saddam”, opposed the idea
of Mr Bush asking for a new UN resolution. “Cheney and Powell
went at each other in a blistering argument,” Mr Woodward
writes. Mr Bush decided himself to ask for a new resolution.
On other occasions, Mr Woodward says, General Powell and Mr
Rumsfeld “had been almost glaring at each other over the
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