(Doesn’t Cheney just seem so. . .Richard the Third?)
I just came by this interesting interview with former Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Director and evolving neoconservative thinker Ken Adelman.
I think Adelman has shown a great deal of honesty about both the failure of a movement he belongs to and the human failings of those trying to implement neoconservative methodologies in the national security sphere. Adelman has been extremely close, on a personal level, with Cheney and Rumsfeld — and this has not prevented him from lodging serious, full gun critiques at them and their miserable management of the war.
I last saw Adelman at a UN Foundation party with former President Bill Clinton, Senator Hillary Clinton, former Senator and UN Foundation President Tim Wirth, Ted Turner, and many other establishment liberals in honor of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus — and Adelman was blunt with me in how angry he was at the Bush administration’s performance in the war and expressed believable regret for having been part of the sound machine that clamored for the Iraq invasion.
To remind folks, Ken Adelman wrote the now infamous February 2002 Washington Post article, “Cake Walk in Iraq“. I know now that he wishes he had not, but the article is a useful reminder when reading similar kinds of articles by the likes of Michael Ledeen and Norman Podhoretz calling for America to initiate an attack against Iran.
This interview is really about Adelman’s interesting human resource management/leadership seminars under the title of “Movers and Shakespeares“, and I’ve heard that Adelman’s encyclopedic knowledge of Shakespeare and his love for human drama in the political world make this stuff very interesting.
But it would be interesting to know from Ken Adelman which Shakespeare characters and plays most describe the tragic situation America is in today. Who would Rumsfeld be? And is Bush more Hamlet or MacBeth? Is Cheney Richard III? What character fits Adelman himself?
Here is the last bit of Adelman’s thoughts on the Bush administration and the Iraq War — as well as his comment that America should not apply military force of its own against Iran. It’s thoughtful and indicative of further fracturing in the neoconservative camp:
MORTMAN: Now I’d like to get your thoughts on other areas of your expertise. How do you think things are going in Iraq?
ADELMAN: I fear that we are not doing well. I just think that we got our act together too late. I think we lost a few years in there that we should have had. Policy folks — Secretary of Defense, National Security Adviser — really let us down.
MORTMAN: How do we win in Iraq?
ADELMAN: I thought if we could turn it around, and give people the sense that momentum was on our side, that could turn it around. But that hasn’t happened. I think with plans to withdraw, we either get out of the way and let the different factions do whatever they have to do, or let the different factions act like Iraqis. But I’m an optimist.
MORTMAN: Should we invade Iran?
ADELMAN: I would not use the military in Iran. I would squeeze the sanctions as hard as we can. I would go to the Saudis and the Persian Gulf countries, and have them pressure the Europeans, saying they just have to crack down. I don’t think the Bush Administration has done anything with the Saudis that’s worthwhile.
MORTMAN: Your thoughts on the presidential race?
ADELMAN: I’ve been disappointed. It seems that there are no new ideas coming out of the presidential race. 1980 we had the Reagan Doctrine, supply side economics, SDI — all these were ideas, they were new ideas. I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t heard anything new from either side. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m disappointed.
MORTMAN: Your thoughts on the Bush legacy?
ADELMAN: Bush is a person who had good ideas but could not implement them. The first MBA president was the worst administrative leader, the most un-MBA-ish president. He didn’t set goals, he didn’t hold people accountable. He just engaged in happy talk. He thought words were all people needed, instead of a realistic approach. A failed presidency based on that.
I disagree with Adelman that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea when we should have been focused on bin Laden and stamping out the embers of his operation — but that said, it is useful to have someone of Adelman’s stature and proximity to other leading neocons speak out against a repeat of the mistakes we made in the Iraq War.
— Steve Clemons