The colonel sings the blues
Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Colin Powell, offered a scathing and surprisingly blunt critique of the Bush foreign policymaking process during a speech at the New America Foundation. Here are some highlights from a partial transcript [Video HERE]:
But the case that I saw for 4 plus years was a case that I have never seen in my studies of aberration, bastardizations, perturbations, changes to the national security decisionmaking process. What I saw was a cabal between the Vice President of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the Secretary of Defense and [inaudible] on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made. ...
Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith whom most of you probably know Tommy Frank said was stupidest blankety blank man in the world. He was. Let me testify to that. He was. Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man. ...
So youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got this collegiality there between the Secretary of Defense and the Vice President. And then youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got a President who is not versed in international relations. And not too much interested in them either. And so itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not too difficult to make decisions in this, what I call Oval Office cabal, and decisions often that are the opposite of what you thought were made in the formal process.Wilkerson was no kinder on Condi Rice, whom he accused of not doing her job: "she would side with the president to build her intimacy with the president." But the section in the raw transcript that caught my attention is this:
And I would say that we have courted disaster, in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran, generally with regard to domestic crises like Katrina, Rita and I could go on back, we havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t done very well on anything like that in a long time. And if something comes along that is truly serious, truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence. Read it some time again.
I just use it for a tutoring class for my students in the District of Columbia. Forced me to read it really closely because weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re doing metaphors and similes and antonyms and synonyms and so weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢reÃ¢â‚¬Â¦read in there what the founders say in a very different language than we use today. Read in there what they say about the necessity of people to [inaudible - background voice] tyranny or to throw off ineptitude or to throw off that which is not doing what the people want it to do. [Partial transcript here]Neither the Washington Post or Financial Times articles clarify exactly what Wilkerson is saying with his reference to the Declaration of Independence. Reads to me as though he is implying that the American public ought to overthrow the Bush administration (or will do so when they realize just how terribly incompetent and dangerous it is), but that may just be wishful thinking. [Links courtesy David Addams]
Update: The full transcript is now available here.