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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Sunday, March 30, 2003

It's Deja Vu All Over Again, Again

President Bush is being briefed on the Pentagon plan to deal with Iraq. Cautious generals present a plan calling for overwhelming force. Unhappy civilains reject the initial effort, and force the Pentagon to accept a plan calling for many fewer troops. The result...

Well, the NY Times is the paper of record when I agree with it, and today they tell me that the above story describes Bush I and the run-up to Desert Storm. Here we go:

In 1990, for example, after Iraq invaded Kuwait, Mr. Powell, then chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, presented the first President George Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney with a proposal to oust the Iraqis with a show of force substantially larger than was eventually used.

"I was not happy with the briefing," recalled Brent Scowcroft, then the national security adviser, in the memoirs he wrote with the first President Bush. "It sounded unenthusiastic, delivered by people who didn't want to do the job."

In 1991, Mr. Cheney and his aides devised a lightning strike at Iraqi troops from the west. It was generally regarded as a military success despite the decision, stemming from political constraints, to stop, letting large numbers of Iraqi Republican Guards escape and leaving Saddam Hussein in power.

Well, I am not as savvy as a NY Times reporter, but I can imagine that Brent Scowcroft, as one of the civilians in this story, might have reasons to present the story this way. However, we get a somewhat similar version here.

In his book, Colin Powell describes the fateful October briefing as a flop, but also describes the plan as a first draft which lacked the support of Schwarzkopf and the Pentagon - the plan no one devised, apparently. Calling Bob Woodward!

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