U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad says that his boss George W. Bush is not just the worst president America has ever had, but the worst president he can conceive of. He is truly far gone into shrill unholy madness.
We turn the mike over to Roger Cohen:
The MacArthur Lunch - New York Times: Zalmay Khalilzad... has fared better than most of the Bush brigade. As a Beirut-educated, Farsi-speaking Sunni Muslim, he actually has a clue about the Islamic world.... In his shepherding of Hamid Karzai to power in Kabul, his forging of Sunni cooperation now bearing fruit in Iraq’s Anbar Province, and in his recent prodding of the U.N. to a fuller Iraqi role....
I was intrigued to find Zal looking back in anguish. President Bush now alludes to “the mistakes that have been made,” but is unspecific. There’s such an array, everyone has a favorite: a nonexistent casus belli, skimpy troop levels, the end of the Iraqi army, aberrant planning.
Khalilzad’s anguish centers on May 6, 2003. That’s the day he expected Bush to announce his return to Iraq to convene a grand assembly — something like an Afghan loya jirga — that would fast-forward a provisional Iraqi government. Instead, the appointment of L. Paul Bremer III to head a Coalition Provisional Authority was announced. Khalilzad, incredulous, went elsewhere. In the place of an Afghan-American Muslim on a mission to empower Iraqis, we got the former ambassador to the Netherlands for a one-year proconsul gig. “We had cleared both announcements, with Bremer to run things and me to convene the loya jirga, both as presidential envoys,” Khalilzad told me. “We were just playing with a few final words. Then the game plan suddenly changed: we would run the country ourselves.... Powell and Condi were incredulous. Powell called me and asked: ‘What happened?’ And I said, ‘You’re secretary of state and you’re asking me what happened!’ ”
Powell confirmed his astonishment. “The plan was for Zal to go back,” he said. “He was the one guy who knew this place better than anyone. I thought this was part of the deal with Bremer. But with no discussion, no debate, things changed. I was stunned.”
The volte-face came at a Bush- Bremer lunch that day where Bremer made a unity of command argument to the Decider. “I put it very directly to the president: you can’t have two presidential envoys running around Iraq,” Bremer told me....
Khalilzad[:]... "We could have had an interim Iraqi government. I argued, based on Afghanistan, that with forces, diplomacy and money, nothing can happen anyway without your support.”
Powell agrees. “Everything was Bremer, the suit, the boots, the whole nine yards.” It was a mistake not to move “more rapidly to putting an Iraqi face on it.”
Khalilzad and Powell are right.... This was the sledgehammer approach. And chosen over lunch. “Unfortunately, yes, the way that decision was taken was typical,” Powell said. “Done! No full deliberations. And you suddenly discover, gee, maybe that wasn’t so great, we should have thought about it a little longer”...
Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Richard Cheney. Do it now.