April 21, 2004

Frum Spins Woodward

Other people can read Bob Woodward’s book Plan of Attack so I don’t have to. I can only read so many books in my life, and this one doesn't make the cut.

Still, other people’s reactions to it are interesting.

Here’s something David Frum learned from its pages:

George Bush told Saudi ambassador Bandar of his intention to go to war in Iraq before he told Colin Powell. Personally, I wonder whether this revelation is quite true. The source of this story is most likely Bandar himself – and his claims should always be swallowed with a good portion of the annual output of an especially productive salt mine.
That seems about right. Of course it might be true. Who knows? Let’s say it is and see what Frum thinks.
But if it were true, it would suggest several important and disturbing conclusions.

(1) It would rather give the lie to the claim that the Iraq war was masterminded by Israel, wouldn’t it?

I don’t see how. One thing has nothing to do with the other. Besides, anyone who thinks the United States is a Jewish sock puppet lives in a phantasmagorical mental universe. Weighing evidence is beyond them.
(2) It would suggest that by the end of 2002, the president no longer trusted Powell to do the basic work of diplomacy for him.
Eh. I don’t know.
(3) Again if true, the story would suggest that the breakdown of relations between Powell and the president did severe damage to the national security of the United States – by placing the president in a position where he had to inform doubtfully friendly states of major decisions before he told them to his own secretary of state!
Come again? Bush had to tell the Saudis what was up before he told Colin Powell? Why would he have to? Who on earth could have made him?

I’ll give Frum some slack for describing an enemy state as “doubtfully friendly.” His NR colleagues have done a fine job exposing the perfidy in that kingdom. He knows what I know.

And that’s what makes his blame-it-on Powell spin so ridiculous. Either Frum thinks Colin Powell is less trustworthy than the Saudis or he believes Bush thinks so. Either way…ptth.

I rather doubt the story Woodward is telling is true. If it is true, that’s a problem. And it's a problem because of what George W. Bush did, not because of what Colin Powell might have done to deserve it.

It's probably best not to blame Powell for being stabbed in the back. And it’s also probably best not to accuse him of endangering national security in the process. Let’s try to remember who supposedly did what to whom here. It’s pretty straightforward.

(Hat tip: Matt Welch)

UPDATE: On a slightly related note, it looks like the Bush campaign likes Woodward's book. Moe Freedman has the details.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at April 21, 2004 9:43 PM
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