Closing of the Presidential Mind
July 05, 2004
On February 27, 2001, George W. Bush addressed a joint session of Congress. When the president had last ventured to the Capitol for his inauguration 37 days earlier, he had delivered a homily urging the nation to move past the sting of the Florida recount.
June 28, 2004
In the run-up to the Iraq war, I tried hard not to be partisan. I distrusted the Bush administration and feared it would be politically empowered by the war. But such thoughts felt petty and limited at such an important time. And so I evaluated the arguments for war on their merits, irrespective of my feelings about the people making them.
Back in the USSR
June 28, 2004
I was in Britain in the summer of 2002 when Europeans first got wind of the American plan to invade Iraq. As it happened, they learned this news not from President George W. Bush, not from Secretary of State Colin Powell, and not from the American ambassador, but rather from a leak that appeared in The New York Times. The debate began immediately. The archbishop of Canterbury denounced the war, The Daily Telegraph denounced the archbishop of Canterbury, and so on.
June 28, 2004
The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies, and Nations By James Surowiecki (Doubleday, 296 pp., $24.95) In the summer of 2003, analysts at the Department of Defense had an unusual idea. To predict important events in the world, including terrorist attacks, they would create a kind of market in which ordinary people could actually place bets.
May 03, 2004
THE AGENDA ACCORDING TO Bob Woodward's latest book, Plan of Attack, President Bush navigated the path to war in Iraq through sheer disingenuousness. No money for combat preparations in the Persian Gulf? Secretly siphon funds from Afghanistan. Worried about Colin Powell's objections? Keep the secretary of state out of the loop. Asked whether you're planning to invade Iraq? That one's a little more complicated.
September 22, 2003
On May 28, George Tenet delivered for the Bush administration. Nearly two months had passed since the fall of Baghdad. U.S. forces had turned up no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, raising the specter of gross misjudgment on the part of the U.S. intelligence community and allegations of presidential dishonesty. But, that day, the CIA announced that two trailers found in northern Iraq the previous month were actually mobile biological-agent production facilities.
July 07, 2003
Over the past several weeks, a parade of foreign policy experts, touting a pile of recently published “blue-ribbon” think-tank reports, has taken to the airwaves in full cry against the Bush administration’s policy toward North Korea. Or, more precisely, the absence of a Bush administration policy toward North Korea. According to these critics, the feuds between the Defense and State Departments that hobble so much else have virtually paralyzed U.S. policy toward the Hermit Kingdom.
The First Casualty
June 30, 2003
Foreign policy is always difficult in a democracy. Democracy requires openness. Yet foreign policy requires a level of secrecy that frees it from oversight and exposes it to abuse. As a result, Republicans and Democrats have long held that the intelligence agencies--the most clandestine of foreign policy institutions--should be insulated from political interference in much the same way as the higher reaches of the judiciary. As the Tower Commission, established to investigate the Iran-Contra scandal, warned in November 1987, "The democratic processes ...
June 09, 2003
Lawrence Kaplan on how not to handle a nuke threat.
May 05, 2003
Nothing makes me more nervous about the future of Iraq than hearing Bush officials declare that its people are free. Donald Rumsfeld said so six times in his post-looting “freedom’s untidy” press conference on April 11. A few days later, President Bush told a crowd in St. Louis that, “Thanks to the courage and might of our military, the Iraqi people are now free.” No, they’re not. The president and the defense secretary are playing a semantic game. Just because the Iraqi people are free from Saddam Hussein doesn’t mean they’re free.