Saturday, September 30, 2006

As Iraq Situation Deteriorates, New Bob Woodward Book Hurts Bush

The Mid-Term elections are only five weeks away, and developments both abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan and at home, where a new book by Bob Woodward, "State of Denial," is coming out, can only hurt the Bush Administration.

It just seems that everything at this point is conspiring against the Republicans. Even yesterday's resignation of Mark Foley, a GOP congressman from Florida, who apparently sent sexually suggestive e-mails to under-age Congressional male pages, will hurt them and help the Democrats, now edging toward a takeover of both houses of Congress.

There is little question but that developments in Iraq are extremely adverse to the Administration. Just yesterday, the tottering government of Nouri Maliki imposed a general two-day curfew on Baghdad, where scores are being murdered every day by sectarian militias he has made no real attempt to control. There were reports of an arrest of a Sunni guard on charges that he was close to pulling off attacks in the heavily-fortified Green Zone, the U.S. and Iraqi Administrative headquarters, downtown. But there were also rumors that the Iraqi Army might be about to stage a coup d'etat.

American military morale in Iraq is down. How could it be anything but, when it is so apparent that the experiment in democracy that American forces have been trying to implement in this squalid, barbaric country is on the brink of total failure? Not since Nebuchadnezzar has Iraq successfully governed itself. In retrospect, what made us think anything but a policy of brute force could dominate this God-forsaken place?

But, unfortunately, the political fortunes of the Bush Administration are inextricably wound up with the Iraq war. It certainly is the main issue in the Mid-Term elections.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the Taliban resurgence continues, putting heavy pressure on the none-too-numerous American and NATO forces. The insurgents there have more and more been adopting the despicable suicide bombings being used by the enemy in Iraq. After all, they are virtually all primitive fundamentalist Muslims. Meanwhile, the problem of the privileged sanctuary that the corrupt regime of Pervez Musharraf has allowed to fester in the border regions of Pakistan is only growing. It is from Pakistan that most of the Taliban attack. The efforts of President Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai to buck up Musharaff this week as an ally in the War on Terror, seem to have foundered, at a White House dinner no less.

In the midst of these depressing developments, the new Woodward book appears, and for the first time the famed Washington Post writer has clearly lost faith in the Administration. His report of desperate infighting at the White House, with both Andrew Card, the chief of staff, and Laura Bush, the wife of the President, fruitlessly trying to get the President to fire his inept Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, is absolutely devastating.

As usual, the New York Times' chief book reviewer, Michiko Kakutani, has by far the best-written, most compelling article in the Times this morning, reviewing the Woodward book.

She begins, "In Bob Woodward's highly-anticipated new book, "State of Denial," President Bush emerges as a passive, impatient, sophomoric and intellectually incurious leader, presiding over a grossly dysfunctional war cabinet and given to an almost religious certainty that makes him disinclined to rethink or reevaluate decisions he has made about the war. It's a portrait that stands in stark contrast to the laudatory one Mr. Woodward drew in "Bush At War," his 2002 book..."

On the NBC Nightly News last night, Tim Russert, the Washington Bureau chief, opined that the Woodward book can only "resonate" with the electorate.

That should be evident. The Bush Administration is teetering, and the consequences for the war may be profound.

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