- The Washington Times - Friday, July 11, 2008

BLOOD AND IGNORANCE

In his upcoming book, one of the country’s most respected diplomats will blast President Bush’s war in Iraq as a “zealous pursuit of ideological precepts not grounded in knowledge and coupled with arrogance,” one that “trumped the warnings of those in the administration who knew better, but whose voices and expertise were ignored.”

“This was a war of choice, not of necessity,” writes Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian, founding director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, whose diplomatic career spans the administrations of eight presidents. He played a key role in the U.S.-led coalition against Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

His comments are contained in an uncorrected proof of “Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey Through the Middle East,” due in bookstores in September. A copy was sent to Inside the Beltway.

“The Bush administration’s post-invasion policy in Iraq ignored a large body of advice from foreign policy and military professionals, with disastrous consequences,” charges Mr. Djerejian, who among his posts was the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

“Those who drove the policy had little understanding of the history, culture, politics and complexity of Iraqi society or the region as a whole,” he says, suggesting the administration “should have contained and isolated Saddam Hussein’s regime, as we did with that of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. We had the whole world with us after 9/11. We could have led a comprehensive international sanctions effort against Saddam Hussein’s regime.

“As it turned out, there … was a wrong-headed approach whose unintended consequences have cost us greatly in blood and treasure,” concludes the ambassador, who recalls T.E. Lawrence admonishing in 1917: “Do not try to do too much with your own hands. … It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them.”

4,700 TO GO

The long-awaited, multimillion-dollar underground U.S. Capitol Visitor Center is “99 percent complete” and remains on schedule for a November opening, coinciding, come to think of it, with the much-anticipated presidential election.

Since our last update, the U.S. Capitol carpenter’s “punch list” of jobs that must be completed before the scheduled opening has been reduced from more than 15,000 to about 4,700. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, in other words.

STUFF OF LORE

“Historians will be talking about it for generations to come.”

So predicts Donna Brazile, Al Gore’s presidential campaign manager in 2000, referring to when “Barack Obama strides on to a stage in Denver to accept the presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention, [which] will be a moment crystallized in American lore.”

OBAMA ASIDE

Richard Holt, the national director for the grass-roots “Think Condi” for vice president campaign, says he will be pushing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s name when he attends the NAACP convention beginning Saturday in Cincinnati.

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