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Updated on March 31, 2011

Bush Put a Little Lipstick on the Pig

George Bush's Iraq Policy Pig
George Bush's Iraq Policy Pig



Since the beginning of the Bush's first term there has been a running battle between the Defense and State Departments, first between Colin Powell and the Rumsfeld-Cheney-Neocon axis and, more recently, between Condolezza Rice and Rumsfeld. However, Robert Gates participated in similar internecine strife during the Reagan administration when he battled with Secretary of State, George Shultz, over Gates's hawkish policy toward the Soviet Union. According to an article by David Sanger and Scott Shane in the Sunday NYTimes, 11-12, Shultz tried to get Gates fired. Here is a link to their fascinating article--

11-10 Insiders say Bush's decision to fire Rumsfeld made last summer.

Donald Rumsfeld resigned from his job as Secretary of Defense in the wake of the GOP's rout in yesterday's election attributed to the mess in Iraq and failure to deal effectively with corruption in Washington and among contractors in Iraq. Rumsfeld was replaced by Robert Gates who headed the CIA under President George H.W. Bush. The fine hand of James H. Baker, Bush family consiglieri, appears to have engineered Rumsfeld's resignation and his replacement by Gates.

Bush's decision to replace Rumsfeld, which reportedly was opposed by Dick Cheney and supported by White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton, signals the end of the Cheney-Rumsfeld power axis in the Bush administration. Not only is Rumsfeld now gone, but Cheney who, along with Republican neocons, was the prime mover for the invasion of Iraq, has been taken down a couple of notches in the Bush administration hierarchy. The question now is if Cheney won't be telling Bush what to do, who will?

Also, why did Bush move so quickly to dump Rumsfeld after the election?? One reason might be that he did not want wait to appear to be forced to do so by Congressional Democrats. Another motive might have been to reduce the incentive for investigations by House Democrats into fraud and mismanagement in post-invasion programs in Iraq administered by the Defense Department. The Democrats have been salivating to investigate Halliburton's and other contractors' programs in Iraq and their relationship to Cheney and others in the Bush administration.

A more positive view of Rumsfeld's resignation is that George Bush has recognized that the election results and public opinion make a change of course in Iraq inevitable and that he is willing to follow advice to get ahead of the curve rather than wait to be forced to do so.

Tim Russert: Robert Gates is a protege of George Bush's father, Bush 41. He is a hard nosed pragmatist. He was Brent Scocroft's assistant. Scocroft has been a vocal critic of Bush's invasion of Iraq and advised Bush's father not to take Baghdad in the first Gulf War. At that time Cheney supported the decision not to take Baghdad, but he was later won over by the neocons who excoriated Bush 41 for not taking Baghdad and "finishing the job." Now the neocons are on the outside looking in. Some like Richard Perle are still saying they were correct in their support of the invasion of Iraq, but Bush and Rumsfeld botched the job.

Bush's decision to broom Rumsfeld against Cheney's wishes represents a sharp turn away from his previous Iraq policy toward a more pragmatic approach closer to that of his father.


Robert Gates


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    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 11 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Not a whole lot. I gather from comments by Senator Warner that his "persona" is less arrogant than Rumsfeld's. Also, he's not close to Cheney as was Rumsfeld who was regarded by Cheney as his mentor.

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 11 years ago from San Francisco

      I heard on KPFA, a local listener-sponsored radio station, that this has been in the works for some time; it was a political tactic by the Republicans to delay the resignation to take the positive press away from Democrats' big wins yesterday. Thanks for the link, Ralph. What do you know about Gates, other than heading the CIA and working under George H.W. Bush?