Saturday, March 24, 2007

Perhaps Bush is the Decider After All

Yesterday we learned that almost immediately upon taking office, Defense Secretary Robert Gates attempted to persuade President Bush to close Guantanamo Bay's Camp X Ray and hold trials of detainees within the United States. Gates, with support from Secretary of State Rice, argued that Gitmo is a PR disaster that is undermining U.S. foreign policy throughout the world. As the story has been reported, VP Cheney and AG Gonzales strongly objected, and have, for now at least, prevailed. This episode thus fits a familiar storyline that goes back to 2002-2003: the moderates in the Administration (then including Colin Powell), especially at State, make their arguments, only to be tuned out because of Bush's reliance on Cheney.

Here I want to suggest a different reading: Bush is actually making these (disastrous) decisions. After all, it's not as though Bush has been doing Cheney's bidding on EVERY foreign policy question. The decision to strike a deal with North Korea is the prime example of Bush turning away from Cheney's views, and though it's hard to know what went on within the White House, it's certainly possible that Cheney also objected to the dismissal of Rumsfeld (given their longstanding connection). So, if Bush doesn't always bend to Cheney's (presumed) will, perhaps he just happens to agree with Cheney most of the time. And if that's so, Bush should get credit for not simply succumbing to his neocon svengalis. And more importantly, he should get the blame for . . . well, you know, everything.

7 comments:

egarber said...

In "Plan of Attack" (I think), Woodward wrote that Bush showed a spark of skepticism about the intelligence, but failed to follow up with much energy.

So with W, I think it's a combination: he has his own sense of what he wants to do, but he doesn't intellectually pursue implications to any meaningful degree.

Sometimes that means he breaks with the neocons on "gut" issues. But in other cases, he rolls over to them because he doesn't have the rigor (or maybe desire) to challenge their "facts". And of course, there's also a wide common ground where they all agree.

Garth said...

i think you are giving bush too much credit.

gonzalez and cheney objected because it would deprive them of the argument that they were beyond the jurisdiction of the judicial system.

as for korea, they have no oil so who cares. if you think about it, the korea deal is really the only success he's had, even if it does consist of accepting the same deal Clinton had cut with them years ago. Korea is an anomoly that I think may be more the exception that proves the rule.

the rule being that bush is cheney's sock puppet.

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