Former president George H.W. Bush speaks out in new biography.
According to a new biography, the 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush, has strong opinions on the cohorts of his son’s presidential administration. He called former Vice President Dick Cheney an “iron-ass” and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “an arrogant fellow.”
Long silent on the subject of whether he agreed with George W. Bush’s full-scale invasion of Iraq, Bush Senior now says he issued a warning. According to Jon Meacham’s Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush, to be released later this month, Bush 41 told Bush 43:
“You know how tough war is, son, and you’ve got to try everything you can to avoid war. But if [Saddam Hussein] won’t comply, you don’t have any other choice.”
While it is dubious teetering on laughable to suggest George W. Bush knew the rigors of war in any sense of the word, he soon learned the smooth plan for deposing Hussein outlined by the neoconservative cabal running his foreign policy was deeply flawed. Cheney famously said we would be greeted as liberators; Rumsfeld said it would be a short war — that we may only be engaged in Iraq for as little as a few weeks and no more than five months. Both of these men vociferously insisted there were chemical and biological weapons stockpiles in Iraq.
They were wrong on all accounts. Two trillion dollars and at least half a million deaths later, we now know their intention all along was an open-ended decade of economic imperialism in the region. By that metric, the war was a raging success.
While Cheney has steadfastly refused to offer anything approximating an apology, Rumsfeld actually had the gall to say George W. Bush was wrong for trying to ‘build democracy’ in Iraq. His criticism was both audacious and duplicitous considering the fact that the former the secretary of defense was integral in pushing the concept of perpetual war in the Middle East. His efforts date back to his days in the right wing think tank, Project For A New American Century, where he was accompanied by war monger pals Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz.
The new biography gives what is likely a neutered — if not outright manufactured — revisionist history of a purportedly troubled Bush 43 declining to ask his father for advice. George H.W. Bush wants history to believe he had ambivalent feelings about the neocons running the show, reserving his harshest criticism for Rumsfeld:
“I think he served the president badly. I’ve never been that close to him anyway. […] There’s a lack of humility, a lack of seeing what the other guy thinks. He’s more kick ass and take names, take numbers. I think he paid a price for that.”
Bush was less severe toward Cheney, characterizing him as a man who changed dramatically after the terror attacks of 9/11.
“He just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with,” Bush told Meacham. “Just iron-ass. His seeming knuckling under to the real hard-charging guys who want to fight about everything, use force to get our way in the Middle East.”
In what is perhaps his most interesting statement, Bush suggested Cheney changed the administration from the inside out. Washington insiders have long claimed Cheney was really the one in charge, and Bush as much as admits it.
“The big mistake that was made was letting Cheney bring in kind of his own State Department… But it’s not Cheney’s fault. It’s the president’s fault.” George H.W. Bush added, “The buck stops there.”
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