Sunday, April 29, 2007

Iraq War: Three new books shed light in a historical perspective.

AT THE CENTER OF THE STORM My Years at the C.I.A. By George Tenet
with Bill Harlow Illustrated. 549 pages. HarperCollins. $30.

Former CIA director tries to clear his embattled reputation concerning his role in the Bush White House decision to go to war in Iraq: "Mr. Tenet says he doubts that W.M.D.’s were the principal cause of the United States’ decision to go to war in Iraq in the first place, that it was just “the public face that was put on it.” The real reason, he suggests, stemmed from “the administration’s largely unarticulated view that the democratic transformation of the Middle East through regime change in Iraq would be worth the price.”

Mr. Tenet notes that his “slam dunk” remarks came “10 months after the president saw the first workable war plan for Iraq,” and “two weeks after the Pentagon had issued the first military deployment order sending U.S. troops to the region.” He points out that many senior Bush administration officials, including Paul D. Wolfowitz and Douglas J. Feith, were focused on Iraq long before 9/11, and that Mr. Cheney asked Bill Clinton’s then-departing secretary of defense, William Cohen, before the 2001 inauguration to give the incoming president a comprehensive briefing on Iraq and detail possible future actions.

The New York Times review claims he stonewalls on certain issues, such as treatment of detainees, and that he tries to give positive lip service to Bush and Chaney while serving a subtext of these two as arrogant who believe what they wanted despite intelligence. He does attack Condolica Rice, Perl and others with much less reserve.

Interestingly he is not optimistic about the Administartions `surge plan' sectarian violence, he argues, has “taken on a life of its own,” and he sees American forces becoming increasingly “irrelevant to the management of that violence.”

This book has already stirred up quite a bit of interest- though it will be officially released tomorrow.

The Times also reviews Bill Bradely's new book THE NEW AMERICAN STORY (364 pages. Random House. $25.95.) under an article with the diminutive title of: From the Sidelines, a View of the Middle as the Loser.

"Bill Bradley, the former United States senator from New Jersey and former presidential candidate, got out of politics in 2000 after losing the Democratic nomination to Al Gore, and so wrote this book, he says, from “outside the political pressure cooker,” with “no ax to grind and no political ambition to accomplish.”

Mr Bradley gives his assessment of not only the Bush administrations "is handling of the Iraq war — which the former senator bluntly calls an “oil war” — and for leading the country “down a dangerous path toward empire." He claims that “The case can be made that George Bush has destroyed the Republican Party by his profligacy, his arrogance, his stubborn machismo, and his absolute conviction that whatever he does is right.”.

Bradley doesn't pull punches with the Democrats- calling Clinton's administration a lost opportunity, and blames Hillary Clinton for the failed Health care initiative.

Maybe the `loser' position puts a chip on his shoulder, but Bradley really wants to make some suggestion to try to put the US back on a progressive track, including "implementing a gasoline tax of $1 a gallon to providing up to $12,000 in college tuition money for high school students in the top third of their graduating classes."

According to the Times review his main argument is that the focus of those in power is most often on the issues that matter to a few "peripheral issues"- like abortion, gay rightes, medical marijuana- then on issues that matter to a larger majority- like social security for example.

It's hard to speculate how this book will fare with so many other `election' time book coming out, and because of it's overt / hos overt - Democrat bias. But diatribes against Bush I think will be selling well as frustration over his failed Presidency grows.

The third book of interest this week is not about Bush or Iraq, but the Times reviewer writes about Robert Dallek's new book Nixon & Kissinger, "One cannot help regarding his account of the Nixon White House and its handling of the Vietnam War as a kind of parable about the presidency of George W. Bush and its determination to stay the course in Iraq.

NIXON AND KISSINGER: Partners in Power By Robert Dallek
Illustrated. 740 pages. HarperCollins. $32.50.

Dallek works at combining insights from other books about these notorious leaders and intertwines them "shrewdly" with "recently declassified archives, including transcripts of Mr. Kissinger’s phone calls and the papers of Alexander M. Haig Jr., Mr. Kissinger’s deputy on the National Security Council and later Nixon’s chief of staff."

The correlations between Nixon and Kisseneger with Bush and his cronies has it's obvious differences, as Nixon and Kissenger did not get along well:" President Nixon would ask his aide John Ehrlichman to talk to Mr. Kissinger about getting therapy, while Mr. Kissinger would frequently refer to his boss as “that madman,” “our drunken friend” and “the meatball mind." Bush doesn't seem to be working with anyone who has anything but total loyalty to him, nor anyone with quite the intelligent ambition as Kissinger (Cheney?).

With history to aid in the analysis of the Nixon regime it is easier to make judgments then it is to make good historic judgements about Bush's missteps currentlly. But to use this book for it's insightful analysis's leaves one with a greater understanding of arrogance and paranoia that our current administration exhibits.

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