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Thursday, September 04, 2003

The Washington Post reports on the debate within the administration which led to its decision to seek support for the Iraq operation from the U.N. The final paragraph of the story states:

'People close to the administration said the Joint Chiefs and Powell (a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs) did not win a bureaucratic battle as much as Rumsfeld lost one. "Rumsfeld lost credibility with the White House because he screwed up the postwar planning," said William Kristol, a conservative publisher with close ties to the administration. "For five months they let Rumsfeld have his way, and for five months Rumsfeld said everything's fine. He wanted to do the postwar with fewer troops than a lot of people advised, and it turned out to be a mistake."'

The nice thing about the progress of time is it tends to show whose ideas are on track and whose aren't. Rumsfeld's plan for postwar Iraq has failed, giving the State Department some much-needed clout with the Bush administration. While many have criticized Powell for his prewar actions, it seems to me that he did the smart thing (sticking with the program, even if he disagreed with it); he's now in a position to champion a program for the reconstruction of Iraq that might actually work. The U.N. can get the job done, it just needs the proper support and authority (East Timor being the most recent example). Iraq is now a sort of litmus test for the different worldviews which Rumsfeld and Powell represent -- can the U.S. engage in its agenda to change the world alone or does it need international support? While some of us assume to know the answer to this question (I tend to believe that international efforts are better than unilateral efforts), we will all get the opportunity to see both in action and compare their strengths and weaknesses.

This is assuming that the U.S. can come up with a resolution acceptable to the U.N. The acerbic tone taken by some Bush administration officials (-cough-Feith-cough-Perle-cough-) before the war will hamper U.S. diplomatic efforts. However, Powell's rising status indicates to the international community that the loonies are no longer in total control of the assylum and that outside opinions may actually be considered. I suspect that as the U.N. resolution idea gains traction in the Bush administration, there will be a greater willingness on the part of other countries to participate in the process and compromise.

Andrew 11:07 AM : |


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