Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Not Exactly A Reconciliation

I have found it strange that the main papers have not discussed the odd meeting arrangements for Bush's trip to Europe. An NSC briefing by Hadley describes the schedule. Granted NATO was apparently having some sort of high level meeting, but why should Bush go to this one, except as an excuse for some other meetings? He met Chirac on neutral ground in Belgium, and refused to invite Chirac to the US when offered the opportunity. The day after dinner with Chirac in Belgium, he apparently had breakfast at the US ambassador's in Brussels with the UK's Tony Blair. He is also meeting Putin on neutral ground in Slovakia, although he plans to visit Schroeder in Germany. Germany is part of the EU; why didn't Schroeder visit Bush in Brussels, as Chirac did? Furthermore, Bush is meeting Schroeder in Frankfurt/Mainz, not in the capital of Berlin; so, again, although Bush will be on German soil, he's still staying on somewhat neutral territory by staying out of Berlin.

It's too bad that Bush could not go to Paris, either because Chirac would not invite him, or because Bush would not accept the invitation. It's too bad that Bush could not go to Moscow for whatever reason.

I believe I saw Mrs. Bush today, Tuesday, in Germany addressing American troops without her husband. She's great. She probably wanted to get away from his oppressing entourage.

He's still a man in a cocoon, protected by his handlers from too much exposure to the outside world. I think that's very sad for an American president. Why does he have to be isolated by his handlers? I think it's because he is either stupid or lazy to learn his brief for high level meeting. Although people say he is friendly in private, publicly he comes across as boorish and impolite. Why can't he drop his arms to his sides? He has to swagger around like a little boy playing Napoleon in high heeled cowboy boots.

The President's schedule as described by Hadley at the NSC follows:

The President and Mrs. Bush will depart for Brussels, Belgium on Sunday, February 20th, arriving that evening. The President will start his meetings the next day, Monday, February 21st, paying a courtesy call to his hosts, Their Majesties King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium. The President will then meet with Prime Minister [Guy] Verhofstadt of Belgium, followed by a meeting with NATO Secretary General [Jaap] de Hoop Scheffer.

On Monday afternoon, the President will deliver a speech at the Concert Noble. The speech will focus on his vision of a united transatlantic community, working together to promote freedom and democracy, particularly in the broader Middle East. The speech will build upon the President's inaugural address and State of the Union remarks. It will be an opportunity for him to communicate directly with the people of Europe, and will show America's desire to work in partnership with Europe, based on common values, to advance the cause of freedom.

On Monday evening, President Bush and President [Jacques] Chirac, of France, will meet for a working dinner [at the residence of the US ambassador to Belgium].

On Tuesday, February 22nd, the President will begin his day with a breakfast with Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom [at the residence of the US ambassador to Belgium], and then he will proceed to NATO Headquarters. Upon arriving at NATO, the President will meet with Ukrainian President [Viktor] Yuschenko. President Bush will then participate in a NATO-Ukraine Commission meeting, followed by a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister [Silvio] Berlusconi, of Italy.

Also on Tuesday morning, the President will participate in a meeting and luncheon with the NATO heads of state and government, and will participate in a press availability with the NATO Secretary General.

On Tuesday afternoon, the President will meet for the first time since the EU's historic enlargement with the now 25 member states of the European Council. He will hold a joint press availability with European Council President Prime Minister [Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude] Juncker, European Commission President [Jose Manuel] Barroso, and High Representative [for the Common Foreign and Security Policy] of the European Union Javier Solana.

That evening, President Bush will participate in a working dinner with the three representatives of the EU just named, namely Mssrs. Juncker, Barroso and Solana.

On Wednesday, February 23rd, the President and Mrs. Bush will depart Brussels, Belgium for Frankfurt, Germany. Upon arriving in Frankfurt and proceeding to Mainz, Germany, the President and Chancellor [Gerhard] Schröder will greet American and German soldiers that served in Afghanistan. The two leaders will then meet, followed by a joint press availability. The Chancellor and Mrs. Schröder will then host a lunch for the President and Mrs. Bush.
On Wednesday afternoon, the President will participate in a roundtable conversation with German citizens, followed by a visit to the Gutenberg Museum with Mrs. Bush. After the visit to the museum, the President and Mrs. Bush will depart Mainz for Wiesbaden, Germany, where they will have the privilege of meeting with members of the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division.
After meeting with and addressing the troops, the President and Mrs. Bush will depart for the Slovak Republic.

On Thursday, February 24th, the President will meet with President [Ivan] Gasparovic, and later with Prime Minister [Mikulas] Dzurinda of the Slovak Republic. On Thursday morning, the President and Prime Minister Dzurinda will have the unique opportunity to meet with the Champions of Freedom, individuals from Central and Eastern Europe who are on the forefront of advancing the cause of freedom in that region. The President will pay his respects to those veterans of the struggle for freedom, as well as encourage those who continue to struggle for freedom and democracy today. The President then will deliver remarks to Slovak citizens in Bratislava's town square.

On Thursday afternoon, the President will meet with Russian President [Vladimir] Putin, followed by a joint press availability.

On Thursday evening, the President and Mrs. Bush will depart the Slovak Republic and return to Washington, D.C.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Low Opinion of Bush and Rice

I have just finished reading Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward. It took a while, but better late than never. I was struck by several things in the Epilogue.

In what appears to be Deputy Secretary of State Armitage's comments to Woodward, Woodward says that Armitage "believed that the foreign-policy-making system that was supposed to be coordinated by Rice was essentially dysfunctional. That dysfunction had served well as long as Powell and he could delay war. But that effort had ultimately failed. Later in 2003, whenever there was a presidential speech or an issue with the White House, particularly on the Middle East, he would say to Powell, 'Tell these people to fuck themselves.'"

Woodward continues, "Months after the war, Rice asked Armitage about his all-too-apparent distress. The NSC system is dysfunctional, he told her bluntly, and the deputies committee was not carrying its load. Policy was not sufficiently coordinated, debated and then settled. She needed to be a good, knock-down-drag-out fighter to be a strong security adviser and enforce discipline."

"On October 12, 2003, the Washington Post published a long front page story headlined, 'Rice Fails to Repair Rifts, Officials Say; Cabinet Rivalries Complicate Her Role.'"

"Rice expressed her concern to Powell, who defended his deputy. 'You can blame Rich if you want,' Powell said, 'Rich had the guts to go talk to you directly about this, so I don't think he is the source.' What Armitage had said reflected a general feeling around Washington and in the foreign policy establishment, Powell said.... Powell thought Rice was more interested in finding someone to blame for the public airing of the problem than in fixing it."

So, this is our new Secretary of State. She had better clean house thoroughly, or there will be a lot of bad feelings in Foggy Bottom towards her.

Also in the Epilogue, Woodward quotes Bush's expression of warm feelings toward Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi in October 2003: "If we hadn't gotten it right in 1945 and helped build a democratically prosperous Japan , our conversation -- between a Japanese prime minister and a president of the United States -- could never take place. One day a president of Iraq and a president of the United States are going to be sitting there trying to solve some problem and they're going to say they're glad we created a democratic and prosperous Iraq."

Woodward says that Rice "found some comfort" in the above exchange because the "president was holding firm and thinking about the long term." Amazingly, neither Bush nor Rice noticed that Japan had invaded the U.S., but that the U.S. had invaded Iraq. Did Bush never learn about Pearl Harbor from his father or at Yale, or somewhere? How could Rice forget it? It's the blind leading the blind. Bush likes Rice because she can play the piano and ice skate, but as Armitage pointed out, she can't play with the big boys, like Cheney and Rumsfeld. Appointing Rice to State is like saying to Cheney and Rumsfeld, "Do whatever you like, boys. If you want to invade Iran, you go right ahead."

The final passage is not from the Epilogue, but is near the end of the book. It says that Bush met with New York Mayor Bloomberg on March 19, 2002. Bush warned Bloomberg, "Keep your eye on tunnels, bridges and the Jewish community." So, Bush recognized that Iraq was a race war or a religious war, in which the U.S. went to war with the Muslims on behalf of Israel and Zionist American Jews, such as Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Dov Zakheim, William Kristol, Ken Adelman, and maybe Scooter Libby (I'm not sure Libby is Jewish, but he's from Miami Beach, and he was listed with Perle, Wolfowitz, and Feith in the Jewish Journal in a context that indicates that he is Jewish). This comes up because Woodward says that on April 13, 2002, Cheney gave a small dinner where the only guests were Libby, Wolfowitz and Adelman.

Of course, Perle was chairman of the Defense Policy Board until he was forced to resign. Wolfowitz is Deputy Secretary of Defense. Feith is an Under Secretary of Defense. Zakheim was comptroller of the Pentagon. Kristol is editor of the Weekly Standard. Adelman is a columnist, who was my boss as the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency during the Reagan Administration. Libby is Cheney's foreign policy adviser; his bios say he is Wolfowitz' close friend.

Finally, Woodward chronicles how Saudi Ambassador Bandar pressed Bush to tell him first when the war was going to start. Bush assured Bandar that he would; however, Woodward says that Rice told Israeli finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone about the start of the war at 7:30 pm on the day the first planes were striking Baghdad, although Netanyahu "said he already knew about the war." Then Rice told Bandar later at a meeting at the White House at 7:45. Bandar asked Rice, "Have you told anybody else foreign other than me?" Woodward relates, not quoting Rice, "No, Rice said, though the Israelis already knew." So, the Israelis were the first to know, despite Bush's promise to Bandar. It shows who's really important to the Bush Administration.

Friday, February 04, 2005

North Korean-Libyan Uranium Connection

The New York Times reported that uranium appeared to be from North Korea that was captured in Libya when Libya went state's evidence on its nuclear program and turned over everything to the US, Britain, and the IAEA. However, the article says that the uranium is attributed to North Korea by process of elimination, not by a firm identification of its nuclear fingerprint. This makes the attribution less reliable and raises the question whether the Administration or its opponents have anything to gain by linking the uranium to North Korea.

At first blush, it would appear that this news is unfavorable to the Administration, because it indicates that the US policy toward North Korea is failing; North Korea has been more active in the nuclear bazaar than at first believed. On the other hand, the Administration's ally Pakistan is no doubt deeply involved in Libya's nuclear program on the basis of other evidence uncovered earlier in Libya. The Administration would rather blame North Korea than Pakistan for helping Libya build a bomb.

I don't know who to blame, but the leak to the Times strikes me as planted by somebody. Granted uranium mined in different locations may have a U-234 fingerprint as the article states, but can we say this uranium is North Korean, because its fingerprint doesn't match any we have on file? Do we know the U-234 content of all uranium mines in China? In the Soviet Union? Former Soviet Union states such as Kazakhstan? All African sources? Even Pakistan itself? After the CIA botched evaluating the nuclear program of Iraq, I would not trust it on this issue either, although the real expert agency is probably the Energy Department.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Elliott Abrams Gets Promoted

The Washington Post reports that convicted felon (and subsequently pardoned by Bush I) Elliott Abrams will be promoted to Deputy National Security Adviser and given responsibility for the promotion of democracy in the NSC. It's appropriate that Bush should appoint a felon to be in charge of promoting democracy! Abrams will remain responsible for Israeli-Palestinian and other middle eastern affairs. He was convicted in the Iran-Contra scandal. It's ironic that Iran will again be one of the main countries in his portfolio. He will reportedly be working under the new, overall number two at the NSC, J. D. Crouch, currently US Ambassador to Romania and previously a conservative Pentagon hack.

There has got to be a better, more honorable person to fill the democracy position. How cynical we look putting Abrams in it! But Abrams, as an elite Jew who has worked on foreign policy matters for years, has strong support from the Jewish politically active Zionists (AIPAC,. etc.) to remain in charge of anything that might affect Israel, like overthrowing the Iranian government.