You are herecontent / W deaf to bad news on Iraq
W deaf to bad news on Iraq
By Michael McAuliff for The Daily News:
President Bush will hear no evil on the Iraq war - even when the bad news comes from military brass and top government officials, a new report says.
Bush "remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq," according to The New Yorker magazine.
The article, echoing a Daily News story yesterday, says Bush and his inner circle are so determined to follow their own plan that generals fear saying what's wrong in Iraq - and senior advisers are snubbed if they have bad news.
"I tried to tell" the President about problems in Iraq, one former senior official told the magazine. "And he couldn't hear it."
The News quoted another Bush confidant yesterday saying that Team Bush has an "unyielding belief in the wisdom of what they're doing" in Iraq and elsewhere, and that "they're talking to people who could help them, but they're not listening."
New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh said that Bush is motivated in part by religious fervor and that he believes the war must be judged on a time line of decades, not years. "He's a utopian, you could say, in a world where maybe he doesn't have all the facts and all the information he needs and isn't able to change," Hersh said on CNN yesterday.
"I'll tell you, the people that talk to me now are essentially frightened because they're not sure how you get to this guy."
Hersh said such tunnel vision helps explain why the Bush administration went ballistic when Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a Vietnam War hero, recently declared the war is tanking and it's time to bring the troops home.
"The generals know him and like him," Hersh said. "His message to the White House was much more worrisome than maybe to the average person in the public. [White House officials] know that generals are privately telling him things that they're not saying to them."
The administration is looking for options to bring some troops home. The Pentagon is expected to cut forces from the current level of about 160,000 to about 138,000 after next month's elections in Iraq. And under "optimistic" scenarios, forces would be cut to around 100,000 by late 2006.
Hersh, however, reports that keeping fewer boots on the ground may be designed only to provide political cover and that a bigger air war may follow.
"The war is not going to slow down," Hersh told CNN. "We're going to increase the pace of air operations. There's going to be more bombing in direct support of Iraqi units."
A White House spokesman said he hadn't seen Hersh's story and could not comment.
The reports of Bush's determination regarding Iraq come as he's preparing to launch a major new publicity push on the war, starting with a speech Wednesday at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Also, Bush's ambassador to Iraq warned yesterday that pulling out of the country early would be disastrous. "Terrorists could take over part of this country and expand from here," Zalmay Khalilzad told Newsweek. "And given the resources of Iraq, given the technical expertise of its people, it will make Afghanistan look like child's play."