Sweet Neocons Of Despair

le-sweetneocons.jpg I heard that when Frum got back from Iraq, he had to be talked off of the ledge. He was soooo very depressed. The death and destruction they have had a hand in is unconscionable and now they are blaming everybody but themselves for their utter failures...

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Digby has a great post up:

Ken Adelman is heartbroken to find that the administration is dysfunctional and incompetent. David Frum just wishes the president had followed through on the words David Frum had put in his mouth. Michael Rubin throws Condi under the bus and then backs up over her---

Meanwhile, just becaue the neocons are running for the exits doesn't mean they don't continue to be wrong about everything. It is their most distinguishing characteristic. Right now, however, their brand is very damaged so they are beginning to distance themselves from their "movement" in a most clumsy and amusing fashion:...read on

CNN has the full transcript below the fold

BLITZER: Here's what you wrote on September 9, Michael Rubin, in the Weekly Standard Magazine -- September 9, 2002, before the war.

"The United States can't bog down in protracted warfare in Baghdad unless a significant number of Iraqi troops are willing to fight us there... they may not be. In 1991, it's worth remembering, the Iraqi military collapsed and fled a mere 100 hours into the ground war... there's good reason to believe that the risk of taking on Saddam Hussein is -- thankfully -- far lower than the skeptics would have us believe."

MICHAEL RUBIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: And I still stand by that. What we're looking at is not the Iraqi army. A lot of people were talking -- I remember Time Magazine spoke about how the invasion of Iraq would become -- the actual invasion of Iraq would become another Nasiriyah.

People, at the same time, said that Afghanistan would become "Vietnam with snow." The fact of the matter is, we got to Baghdad in three weeks and Saddam's statue came tumbling down.


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We then fumbled the honeymoon period. We were greeted with flowers and chocolates. We bungled it.

BLITZER: And a lot of people were saying, getting rid of Saddam was the easy part. What happens afterwards is going to be a nightmare.

And a lot of the Bush administration officials seem to have neglected that advice that they were getting from some of the early -- from the first Bush administration, the president's father's administration, the Brent Scowcroft, the James Bakers.

They were suggesting, you know what, this is not going to be simply a matter of getting rid of Saddam. Then you've got to figure out what to do next.

RUBIN: Well, actually, I just looked up an interview with Ed Djerejian, who's the director of the James Baker Center. And what he said is he believed it would take two to three months to put Iraq back on its feet. That was the advice which many of the so-called State Department Arabists were giving us as well.

What we most estimated is the goodwill of the Iranians. When we struck a deal -- when Zalmay Khalilzad struck a deal with the Iranians for non-interference before the war, we trusted them. That was our mistake. And it would be a mistake to, again, put our national security in the trust of Iran's words.

BLITZER: So you're blaming Iran for a lot of the current instability in Iraq?

RUBIN: I most certainly am. And frankly, a lot of Iranian journalists do that as well, when they highlight the broken deals which the Revolutionary Guard has made.

And a lot of people forget, we have an ambassador in Iraq; Iran has an ambassador in Iraq, but Iran's ambassador isn't from the diplomatic corps; he's from the Revolutionary Guard corps' elite unit, charged with export of revolution.

BLITZER: Ken Adelman, you caused a stir, on the Vanity Fair Web site, on November 3, just before the election, when these words were printed: "I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national-security team since Truman was indeed going to be competent. They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the post-war era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional."

You're referring, specifically, to the president, the vice president, the national security adviser, the secretary of defense, the top leaders of the Bush administration.

ADELMAN: Well, I think, when you look at the record, Wolf, it's a record that has a lot of mistakes. You can't read a book without, you know, realizing that.

George Packer's book, "The Assassin's Gate," Michael Gordon and Bernie Trainor's book on "Cobra II," Bob Woodward's book on "State of Denial," Tom Ricks's book, "Fiasco" -- they all have different episodes but the same sad, story.

And you have to ask yourself, how did this happen? And all them attempt, and all of them are serious works and all of them full of facts and figures and episodes. And to tell you the truth, it just breaks your heart.

BLITZER: Does it break your heart, David Frum, to see how this situation unfolded?

Because in the Vanity Fair quotes that were released -- the whole article has not yet been published, but in the quotes -- I'll read one of them from you, and you'll tell me if this is accurate: "I always believed, as a speechwriter that if you could persuade the president to commit himself to certain words, he would feel himself committed to the idea that underlay those words."

And the big shock to me has been that, although the president said the words, he just did not absorb the ideas. And that is the root of, maybe, everything.

FRUM: Yes, that is an accurate quote.

BLITZER: It is accurate?

FRUM: Yes. And it reflects a lot of what I've been saying for the past year and a half.

When the president gives these speeches, every speech is the result of a battle for the president's heart and mind, as has famously been said about the speech-making process.

So different people try to persuade the president to say different kinds of things. And he considers and deliberates. And George Bush committed himself to a series of propositions.

One, he was going to stop Iran and North Korea from acquiring these terrible weapons. And two, that in Iraq, he was going to put his trust in the future of Iraq in a democratic process.

Instead, what happened in Iraq, for example, was the United States became an occupying power almost immediately.

That even before the invasion of Iraq, the decision was made not to have any kind of an Iraqi face on the future government, on the next government of Iraq, because...

BLITZER: Was that Paul Bremer who made that decision, who was the provisional authority representative, the proconsul, as some people say he was? Or was that a decision made by Rumsfeld or Cheney?

FRUM: Paul Bremer was the result of it. But the reason there was a proconsul was because a decision was made not to have an Iraqi provisional government. And that came about because the administration fought itself to a standstill. I mean, there were people who -- there were a number of Iraqis, each of whom had patrons in the administration.

BLITZER: A lot of people would say, that was, Michael Rubin, a huge blunder. You were there. You worked for Paul Bremer. Who came up with that idea of a U.S. military occupation as opposed to trying to let the Iraqis take charge?

RUBIN: Well, I'd second what David said, that that decision, Paul Bremer was the result of that decision. What there was was a debate within the administration about, you have the Iraqi opposition. You had, I believe it was seven key figures. And the question was whether to allow them to become a provisional government. They had already been self-selected through a number of conferences. Or whether there would be some sort of American presence first.

The real debate in Washington was whether we would have more influence before liberation or after liberation. And ultimately, it was the National Security Council, the national security adviser which made the decision to go with an American occupation presence.

BLITZER: That was Condoleezza Rice?

RUBIN: That was Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley.

BLITZER: The deputy national security adviser...

RUBIN: At the time, yes.

BLITZER: ... who's now the national security adviser. And Condoleezza Rice, of course, is the secretary of state now.

RUBIN: That was the compromise that came out of interagency debate, when again, as David said, the State Department, the Pentagon and the others fought themselves to a standstill.

BLITZER: And you think that was a blunder?

RUBIN: I do believe it is one the greatest blunders we have made. The Coalition Provisional Authority and Paul Bremer did a lot of good, but nothing they accomplished which was good couldn't have been accomplished without an immediate transfer of sovereignty. And the fact that we labelled ourselves an occupying power, unlike in Bosnia, unlike in Kosovo and elsewhere, really put -- it justified all the insurgent rhetoric against us. And it turned our allies from those creating a democracy into collaborators.

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