Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bush's Circle Of Friends And Allies Gets Ever Smaller

Former Advisor Perle Calls Bush A "Failure" For Not Destroying America's So-Called Enemies

With the upcoming departure of British prime minister, Tony Blair, the international circle of friends that President Bush relies on for support and belief in the need to continue the War On Iraq grows smaller.

Australian prime minister, John Howard, is only months away from losing a federal election (if current polls are to be believed). Then President Bush will only be able to count on the quieter support of the leaders of Japan and...ahhh....the Marshall Islands.

From :

With Mr Blair set to bow out next month after 10 years in power, the end is nigh for a partnership that was forged in the searing cauldron of the September 11 attacks of 2001 and the subsequent war in Iraq.

"I'm going to miss him. He's a remarkable person. And I consider him a good friend," Mr Bush said last Friday after Mr Blair announced his intention to resign on June 27.

"When Tony Blair tells you something, as we say in Texas, you can take it to the bank."

In his emotional resignation speech last week, Mr Blair stood by his decision to stick "shoulder to shoulder" to Mr Bush despite the crippling cost it inflicted on his popularity in Britain.

He reaffirmed their friendship ahead of his last visit, saying he had learned to live with "poodle" taunts as he discussed Mr Bush in an interview broadcast today by NBC News.

"I've found him immensely straightforward to deal with, someone always true to his word and someone who's a very strong leader," the British Prime Minister said.

The caricature of Mr Blair as Mr Bush's "poodle" appeared confirmed after the President's "Yo! Blair" comments at last year's G8 summit in Russia. There is certainly no other foreign leader with whom Mr Bush is on such familiar terms.

Over Iraq, only Australian Prime Minister John Howard came close to Mr Blair's levels of backing for Mr Bush - and Mr Howard now faces a fight for his job against a resurgent Labor Opposition in elections expected later this year.

However, Mr Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month put on the "Shinzo" and "George" show at a Camp David summit to send a message: New leader in Tokyo, same close ties to Washington.

The same may also prove to be true for the France's president Sarkozy, and Germany's Angela Merkel is also offering support to President Bush over the Iraq War, though in a much less public way than Tony Blair did.

Former advisor to the President, Richard Perle,
says he is now cut off from wandering into the West Wing to ramp up the War On Iran rhetoric, after wandering into the West Wing to ramp up the War On Iraq rhetoric in 2002. Perhaps they don't let him in now because they think he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.

Anyway, Perle is deep into a personal PR campaign to scrape as much of the blame for the Iraq War off himself as possible. Good luck with that, Richard.

Perle is also disgusted that matters regarding Iran are now being handled by the State Department, who don't go to war often enough for Perle. The State Department dealing with international affairs! Imagine that :

The Bush administration is beginning to appease rather than confront America's enemies, a former chairman of the Defense Policy Board and leading neoconservative thinker said yesterday, describing the president as "a failure" who is proving powerless to impose his views on his administration.

Richard Perle offered a withering assessment of the president's impotence at a meeting of the Hudson Institute in New York, saying American foreign policy is being applied by an out-of-control State Department.

"We have already seen a change in policy towards Iran," he said. "It is now firmly back in the hands of the Department of State."

Mr. Perle's assessment is recognized by an expert on defense policy at the American Enterprise Institute, Thomas Donnelly, who said Mr. Bush is routinely frustrated by "establishment" thinking within Washington and that the failure to respond to the president's more radical thinking has harmed American policy in Iraq.

But the characterization of a divided administration frustrating the president's wishes is inaccurate, according the director of the foreign policy program at the New America Foundation, Steven Clemons, who said he thinks Mr. Bush is allowing Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Rice to play good cop, bad cop with the Iranians.

Mr. Perle said the president has failed to control his administration from the start and that bad appointments have ensured that he is isolated from the rest of the government, aside from close allies such as Ms. Rice and Mr. Cheney.

The president's failure to get his own way stems from his general inexperience in foreign affairs and his ignorance of the way Washington works, Mr. Perle suggested. "He came ill-equipped for the job and has failed to master it," he said. "I do not meet the president, but from the people I meet who are close to him and from his speeches, I believe the gap between the president and his administration is without precedent."

"He was only in office a short time when 9/11 took place. … This president appointed people he hardly knew. He didn't know Colin Powell," Mr. Perle added. "He delegated a great deal. He thought he would give general direction and that the machinery would do what he wanted done. But the machinery wouldn't do what he wanted done."

The State Department is "institutionally disposed to settle problems through compromise, to settle rather than to fight," Mr. Perle said. This is dangerous because many enemies of America remain who are prepared to continue fighting when offered a settlement. "You cannot settle with Al Qaeda. You cannot settle with Islamist extremists. Those who suggest we can do great damage," he said.

Mr. Bush displayed weakness in the face of Syria and failed to convincingly condemn the visit of the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to Damascus "because he had authorized some Republicans to talk to Assad," he said.

Mr. Perle said the current policy toward Iraq has no more than nine months to run: It either will have achieved success by then or will have to be abandoned. "That is why I find it strange that the Democrats should take short-term political advantage. They have only to wait," he said.

The U.S. Army "is not terribly well equipped" to fight the insurgency in Iraq, he said, and the Defense Department is still planning an army to fight a Russian advance in Central Europe. "We sent over the only Army we had," he said. He added that he thinks the coalition should have handed the country over to the Iraqis in October 2003, when the insurgency began.

Nor did Mr. Perle offer any optimism that the current surge policy, which he said he believed was correct in conception, would succeed. "People have retreated behind the Iranian border, out of harm's way, biding their time," he said.

While Perle makes some interesting points, his ongoing anti-Bush campaign is more to do with saving his own name and professional reputation from sinking into the muck pit, sucking down most of those who advocated a War On Iraq at all costs.

Perle has rattled off his claim that Iraq should have been handed back to the Iraqis in October 2003 so many times in recent weeks, that people are starting to believe he is right, and that he actually held this position back then.

Of course, Perle never said a word about it at the time. Back then he was still claiming, like Cheney and the rest of the Occupy Iraq team, that the insurgency was minimal and not a long-term threat, and the occupation had to continue, for the good of the Iraqis.

The more former Iraq War cheerleaders like Perle try and rewrite history, and their role in the mess, the more President Bush looks like a man of substance.

But Perle's attack on Bush makes one thing extremely clear : the ultimate blame for what's happened in Iraq will be hung on Bush, and Bush alone. The role of people like Perle, and the lobbying power of AIPAC in the run-up to the Iraq War, will be downplayed and reduced, at least they will try to do this in a very public way.

Perle will make sure Cheney is able to deflect most of the blame for Iraq, without directly blaming the president himself. Even though Cheney has, in subtle ways, already begun to do this.