Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blogging Bush

In case anybody is interested, there is an online discussion taking place over on Slate about Oliver Stone's film W.

The participants aren't film critics, but rather Bush experts and the filmmaker himself:

Oliver Stone, Ron Suskind, Jacob Weisberg, and Bob Woodward are debating W.

Here is Woodward:

Jacob, you make note of the scene in W. where Bush and his advisers debate whether to go to war. In it, the Colin Powell character makes his case against the invasion. The problem is, as best I can tell, no such meeting ever took place. The president never called the National Security Council and the top advisers together to have a real knock-down, drag-out, come-to-Jesus meeting. It gives Powell more credit than he deserves. This is the broad meeting that Bush should have had to hash it out among his advisers. Powell's plea to the president in August 2002, which he recently affirmed, was that the administration needed to look at the consequences of war, but he never argued openly to the president that he should not invade Iraq.


Ian Thal said...

Powell has skillfully repackaged himself as either a well intended dupe or the internal opposition to the administration's decision to invade Iraq. But do we really have any evidence of that? We have a presentation at the UN, that while arguing the case that Iraq should be pressured into readmitting arms inspectors, used such dubious evidence as artist renderings, or video and audio intercepts that were so old that they could have been documenting weapons already destoyed by arms inspectors, or by Clinton-era air-strikes, and he simply could not have known that.

Furthermore, he was arguing for a UN Security Council resolution (and SU Senate resolution to back the UNSC) that the Bush administration intended to violate with the invasion.

The point is that Powell (and some of his new-found liberal defenders like Stone) are attempting to erase his complicity in one of the worst U.S. foreign policy blunders in modern history.

Ian Thal said...

I meant to say "US Senate" not "SU Senate."

Art said...

Powell is treated with much more antagonism in the foreign press.

I remember hearing an interview with him on the BBC a few years ago, and Powell got very upset.

The interview kept hammering him on the U.N. speech.

To be fair, Brokaw did bring up the question on Meet the Press a few Sundays ago. (Although he did no follow up.)

Powell may well take his feelings on these issues to the grave, but he has an eloquent memoir on the shelves already. So we may hope that he will pen another which speaks with equal candor. He has lived another lifetime since the first autobiography.

That being said, Powell remains an intriguing dramatic figure, worthy of more examination. It would be a shame if people figured that David Hare's Stuff Happens, should be the final word for now.

Ian Thal said...

The hostility Powell gets in the European press is probably in part because he can't take his iconography as a fulfillment of the American dream in carry-on baggage on a transcontinental flight. But then again, it's possibly easier for the angry Briton to see Blair as "Bush's Poodle" than see their own government as willfully complicit.

Certainly, many of the figures involved in the decision to invade Iraq are dramatically (and satirically) intriguing characters, but much of what makes them intriguing both personally and politically is not going to be found in an autobiography, or authorized haigiography.

I'm certainly fascinated by Powell's career as a private citizen where we see his efforts at repackaging as well as his tendency to (except on key issues like torture) only criticize the Bush administration through proxies (friends, former staff members, trusted advisors, et cetera.)