Bush’s Kitchen-Sink Address

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The National Interest Online asked for a quick response from me about the foreign policy dimensions of President Bush’s State of the Union address last night.
Here is a short article, “Bush’s Kitchen Sink Address” that was published this morning. I will have a longer and more complete take on the President’s speech up here shortly.
Here are some other pieces in the set — and there should be more posted during the day — Nikolas Gvosdev, “A Speech for 2002“; Paul Saunders, “Hot Air on Energy“; and Alexis Debat, “Too Much Music“.
I hope to see the reactions of Joe Biden, William Odom, Ali Allawi and others up there in a bit.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

20 comments on “Bush’s Kitchen-Sink Address

  1. Pissed Off American says:

    Heres an interesting little ditty. Seems Rummie has teamed up with Cambone to “sort through” volumes of classified documents generated during Rummie’s Bush/Cheney sanctioned criminal enterprises. I wonder how many incriminating documents are now being shredded daily by these two treasonous monsters? Of course, with the total lack of balls exhibited by these mewling cowards in the new majority, Rummie need not shred anything. The likelyhood of the Pelosi crew doing anything to exact accountability from the Bush mob is about nil. They would have to extract their heads out of AIPAC’s ass to effectively accomplish anything towards holding the Bushlickers accountable, and that ain’t likely to happen.
    Rumsfeld ‘transition’ office in Pentagon raising eyebrows
    John Byrne
    Published: Thursday January 25, 2007
    Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has left the Pentagon, but not the Defense Department, reports Thursday’s edition of the Washington Times, revealed that Bush’s onetime Defense chief is now an unpaid consultant — with classified access.
    “On Jan. 4, Mr. Rumsfeld opened a government-provided transition office in Arlington and has seven Pentagon-paid staffers working for him, a Pentagon official told the paper.
    The Times reported that the Pentagon lists Mr. Rumsfeld as a “nonpaid consultant,” a classification needed to review secret and top-secret documents.
    “Mr. Rumsfeld and his aides, who include close adviser Stephen Cambone, are sifting through the thousands of pages of documents generated during his tenure,” the Times wrote. “The Pentagon official said former secretaries are entitled to a transition office to sort papers, some of which can be taken with them for a library, for archives or to write a book.”
    “The transition office has raised some eyebrows inside the Pentagon,” the Times continues. “Some question the size of the staff, which includes two military officers and two enlisted men. They also ask why the sorting could not have been done from the time Mr. Rumsfeld resigned Nov. 8 to when he left the building Dec. 18.”
    continues at…….
    http://tinyurl.com/259wam

    Reply

  2. karenk says:

    Steve wrote, “George W. Bush is tenaciously holding on to a plan that has already failed and is doubling up his bet, convinced that he is right and clearly not open to any foreign policy vision that isn’t dependent on the hope and faith that we might just squeak by”
    Precisely. This Administration seems to only consider the outcomes they desire when they act, rather than considering all possible outcomes and their potential responses to them. That’s much of the reason for their problems.
    John Powers wrote-who could replace Condi? Funny story-I was at a conference on Iraq, Iran and the Future of America at NYU Center on Law and Security yesterday and I asked Lawrence Wright about the FATA’s basically asking–shouldn’t we be putting much more of our resources and focus and energies into disrupting the resurgence of AlQaeda and the Taliban there?” He patted my shoulder and said, “You should be Secretary of State” !!!

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  3. bob h says:

    I was particularly bothered by the way Bush seems to be trying to drag “Shiite extremists” into the GWOT. Hezbollah, for example, has not had us on the radar screen for some time. Don’t we have enough on our hands with Al Qaeda?

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  4. Pissed Off American says:

    BTW, watching C-Span’s American Journal, on Wednesday morning, prompts me to issue a “Lying Sack of Shit Alert”. They had Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) on, commenting on Bush’s SOTU speech, and also answering caller’s questions. In responding to one caller, the lying sack of shit tied Iraq in with state sponsored terrorism, and 9/11. Heres Cantor’s info. If you are so inclined, give the bastard a call and tell him we are sick of being lied to by slimey little weasels.
    Richmond
    5040 Sadler Place, #110
    Glen Allen, VA 23060
    P: 804.747-4073
    F: 804.747-5308
    Culpeper
    763 Madison Rd #207
    Culpeper, VA 22701
    P: 540.825-8960
    F: 540.825-8964
    Washington, DC
    329 Cannon Building
    Washington, DC 20515
    P: 202.225-2815
    F: 202.225-0011

    Reply

  5. PM says:

    John Powers:
    The question is whether or not Webb is the Colin Powell of the Democrats–the guy you send forward to make the speech but someone who otherwise isn’t going to be listened to. Would many Democrats sign on if Webb were to reach out to someone like Scowcroft to come up with a good bipartisan plan for Iraq?
    Mr Clemons:
    What’s your take on that question?

    Reply

  6. PM says:

    John Powers:
    The question is whether or not Webb is the Colin Powell of the Democrats–the guy you send forward to make the speech but someone who otherwise isn’t going to be listened to. Would many Democrats sign on if Webb were to reach out to someone like Scowcroft to come up with a good bipartisan plan for Iraq?
    Mr Clemons:
    What’s your take on that question?

    Reply

  7. Marcia says:

    From Ali Allawi:
    “So it is not normal, let’s say, that Iraq should “adopt the U.S. security agenda as it relates to Iran and make it its own. Iran is a neighbor, we can’t really overlook the fact there are links of geography, of history, of common religion, and so on. The relationship that Iraq needs to have with Iran has to be an independent, neighborly relationship based on the mutual interests of both countries, not necessarily subject to the strategic imperatives of the U.S. government.”
    Do either the Republican or Democratic Party agree with this prospect? How would the presidential hopefuls skirm around this question?
    Since Bush believes the Iraqi’s owe us all that gratitude this will be a surprise for him.

    Reply

  8. John Powers says:

    Mr. Clemons, I would be very interested in your views about a capable replacement to Secretary Rice?
    Senator Webb in a single sentence presents what I believe is a consensus view of the way forward in Iraq:
    “Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq’s cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.”
    As an architect of the current policy, Secretary Rice is unable to credibly undertake such a strong regionally-based diplomacy. Who could replace her? Senator Lugar comes to my mind, but I would appreciate hearing your informed opinion.

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  9. John Powers says:

    Mr. Clemons, I would be very interested in your views about a capable replacement to Secretary Rice?
    Senator Webb in a single sentence presents what I believe is a consensus view of the way forward in Iraq:
    “Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq’s cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.”
    As an architect of the current policy, Secretary Rice is unable to credibly undertake such a strong regionally-based diplomacy. Who could replace her? Senator Lugar comes to my mind, but I would appreciate hearing your informed opinion.

    Reply

  10. John Powers says:

    Mr. Clemons, I would be very interested in your views about a capable replacement to Secretary Rice?
    Senator Webb in a single sentence presents what I believe is a consensus view of the way forward in Iraq:
    “Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq’s cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.”
    As an architect of the current policy, Secretary Rice is unable to credibly undertake such a strong regionally-based diplomacy. Who could replace her? Senator Lugar comes to my mind, but I would appreciate hearing your informed opinion.

    Reply

  11. John Powers says:

    Mr. Clemons, I would be very interested in your views about a capable replacement to Secretary Rice?
    Senator Webb in a single sentence presents what I believe is a consensus view of the way forward in Iraq:
    “Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq’s cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.”
    As an architect of the current policy, Secretary Rice is unable to credibly undertake such a strong regionally-based diplomacy. Who could replace her? Senator Lugar comes to my mind, but I would appreciate hearing your informed opinion.

    Reply

  12. Winnipeger says:

    I believe that enough evidence is finally in to unequivocally conclude that G. Bush simply doesn’t want to be the President any longer. His speeches are robotic, emotionless, and empty. His themes and highlights are years old, devoid of substance, and unpopular. Worse, his goals are largely antithetical to mainstream Americans.
    I’ve never seen a President just go through the motions as this man is now doing. He’s on autopilot (or more likely, Cheney is now flying) for 2 more years. Depressing…and terribly dangerous.
    Posted by Punchy at January 24, 2007 10:58 AM
    agreed, punchy. although he sure as hell seemed to enjoy signing autographs for all the sycophants as he made his way out of the chamber.
    i’d say that this why the frat boy, cheerleader got into politics in the first place.

    Reply

  13. Nikolas Gvosdev says:

    General Odom is now up.
    An excerpt, in response to whether or not withdrawing from Iraq brings negative consequences:
    I think we’re to the point where there’s no way to avoid long-term consequences. We have so damaged our relationships with Muslim countries and with many of our European allies that recovery of our position cannot come quickly.
    And in the meanwhile, that limits our ability to play a stabilizing role, particularly in this area Brzezinski has called the Global Balkans—from Egypt to Afghanistan. And the danger is great that many of the great countries will get drawn into this [Global Balkans] vortex as well. Were we to withdraw and recover our declining influence, our capacity to put limits on how far that would go would increase. The longer we stay, the more difficult recovering that capacity would be.

    Reply

  14. MP says:

    Zathras wrote: “The problem now is that he can’t run again. He designated no successor — typically for a Bush, his political aspirations extended no further than himself — and so has no focus for 2008 or beyond. This most likely accounts for the out-of-focus, almost offhand way he discussed everything not related to Iraq last night.”
    Watching the speech, my wife and I said, almost simultaneously, that after he leaves office, Bush will disappear into obscurity–as if he had never held office.

    Reply

  15. Zathras says:

    George Bush has throughout his career sought to integrate his public statements with his electoral strategy. This doesn’t mean he has never had policy objectives — a rich man whose relatives, friends and associates are almost all rich themselves, Bush no doubt sincerely believes in large tax cuts as a matter of principle. All it means is that when he has explicated any policy proposal he has done so with an electoral outcome clearly in mind.
    The problem now is that he can’t run again. He designated no successor — typically for a Bush, his political aspirations extended no further than himself — and so has no focus for 2008 or beyond. This most likely accounts for the out-of-focus, almost offhand way he discussed everything not related to Iraq last night. He persisted in his habit of not mentioning any ideas known to be generally or potentially unpopular, which is why his statements on energy were all sunshine and lollipops. But otherwise, with no future elections to plan for, Bush sounded as if there were nothing he really wanted to say and was just slogging through this address because tradition requires it
    His personal standing is heavily dependent on the state of the war in Iraq, so Bush was if not any more persuasive at least more forceful in discussing that subject. People who hung around for Sen. Webb’s response heard some telling points made, though they were mostly about decisions Bush made several years ago. Webb stuck to the party line, as perhaps he had to. The problem with the Democratic party line at the moment is that it goes no farther than advertising to the public that Democrats share the general disapproval for how things are going in Iraq. There is no consensus within the party to do or say anything more than that, and it’s a shame that Webb — who left to himself might have had something more substantive to say — felt he had to stay entirely with the herd.

    Reply

  16. Nikolas Gvosdev says:

    Allawi’s interview is up.
    Thought I’d post this section here–which is quite interesting:
    So it is not normal, let’s say, that Iraq should adopt the U.S. security agenda as it relates to Iran and make it its own. Iran is a neighbor, we can’t really overlook the fact there are links of geography, of history, of common religion, and so on. The relationship that Iraq needs to have with Iran has to be an independent, neighborly relationship based on the mutual interests of both countries, not necessarily subject to the strategic imperatives of the U.S. government.
    But we have now, I think, been confronted with the Iraqi government having the support of the United States being withdrawn if it does not, as it were, toe the line when it comes to Iran, and especially if it does not toe the line with the administration’s interpretation as to Iranian meddling in internal Iraqi affairs.
    So this, I think, creates a very complex problem for the Iraqi government, because either you accept the American security agenda and see yourself as part of it—in which case you have to take whatever repercussions emerge from that, including perhaps greater escalation in the domestic level of violence and instability—or you accept the fact that the United States may prevail in this confrontation with Iran, in which case a new a political landscape is drawn for the Middle East.
    But we can’t afford to be in that situation. This is not a Cold War situation, where an ally like Germany or the UK has to make a choice. I don’t think the Iraqi government should be forced into that situation.

    Reply

  17. Marcia says:

    I found your view of the speech the best on NIO. Your mention:
    “President Eisenhower, in these circumstances, would have convened the best and brightest to work through every last option among a set of competing plans, and tacked the direction that clearly had the best chance of working.”
    You point out the tremendous difference between the Bush-Cheney gang playing soldiers and Eisenhower who organized and executed one of the most impressive navel-land invasions in history. He also knew and agonized over the fact that so many of those young men were doomed to die. To hear this administration compare Iraq to WWII is utterly grotesque but not more so than turning a terrorist attack into an unending Orwellien “War” for political reasons.
    That Bush is betting, as you say “doubling up his bet” without ever having put all the chances on his side or planned seriously for possible outcomes corresponds exactly to the kitchen-sink and boys in the back room attitude.
    Very interesting comments.

    Reply

  18. Arthur Eliason says:

    Steve:
    What did you think of the Democratic response? Thought Webb made some excellent points–the problem is, is his party going to be able to deliver on providing that guidance to the president?

    Reply

  19. Punchy says:

    I believe that enough evidence is finally in to unequivocally conclude that G. Bush simply doesn’t want to be the President any longer. His speeches are robotic, emotionless, and empty. His themes and highlights are years old, devoid of substance, and unpopular. Worse, his goals are largely antithetical to mainstream Americans.
    I’ve never seen a President just go through the motions as this man is now doing. He’s on autopilot (or more likely, Cheney is now flying) for 2 more years. Depressing…and terribly dangerous.

    Reply

  20. Jon Stopa says:

    Steve, it should be mentioned that the increase in the size of the army will be a direct new cost of our maintaining hegemeny, due to the failure in Iraq. This will be an increased economic drag for the forseeable future. Who will pay for this, and who will benifit economicly from it?

    Reply

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