SPRING READING SHEDS LIGHT ON BUSH'S WAR PARTY
<!--END_TITLE--><!--BEGIN_TEXT-->WASHINGTON -- It would be strange if it were not so, well, "Washington."
<!--BEGIN_TEXT-->The American mission in Iraq is falling apart, and the American president admits in his recent television news conference that he does not know who will "take over" Iraq after the magical date of June 30. The reviled United Nations? Sure, why not? he replies, because he hasn't the faintest idea who's going to step in -- or fall in, or blast his way in.
<!--BEGIN_TEXT-->The White House now tacitly admits that, far from leaving on that date, as the president and his war party have repeatedly promised the American people, the United States is in Iraq to stay for a long, long time. Some are even admitting that, oh yes, there is a "culture" of violence, vengeance and hatred of the outsider that always made Iraq an odd candidate for "democratization."
<!--BEGIN_TEXT-->Yet, even while the American military endures its worst trial of fire yet, here in Washington the attention is all on what led up to the Iraq invasion. We Americans are inveterate chest-beaters, and here we go again. But the vehicle this time around is not only congressional hearings on intelligence failures but, more and more, THE BOOKS.
<!--BEGIN_TEXT-->Yes, indeed, the books have electrified Washington -- from Richard Clarke's conspiratorial stories of the White House, to Paul O'Neill's sacrilegious accounts of dealing with "W," and now, Bob Woodward's new "Plan of Attack" and James Mann's "Rise of the Vulcans."
<!--BEGIN_TEXT-->It is, of course, the Woodward book that is the present talk of the town, for it has the inside access that no other has had. From that, it paints a deeply disturbing story of everything from the president being told by the CIA director that finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was a "slum dunk," to Colin Powell being consistently humiliated by just about everyone, to Dick Cheney's fevered "obsession" (many now think it is due to his heart bypasses) about going to war.
<!--BEGIN_TEXT-->But beyond the intensely interesting and disturbing personal stuff, what are we finding at the heart of all of these books?
<!--BEGIN_TEXT-->They repeatedly tell us, in only slightly different ways, that this leadership group -- or, better said, "court" -- is one of "irregulars." At every opportunity, they went around our official government, around our institutions, and likely enough around the law. Across their history from the 1970s until today, this Bush-neoconservative group, backed by elements of the radical right and American supporters of Ariel Sharon, created alternate power centers to bypass traditional American ones. In short, they are true radicals. Think "Robespierre."
<!--BEGIN_TEXT-->Bob Woodward writes in "Plan of Attack," for instance, how Douglas Feith, one of the most radical of the Bush-Rumsfeld courtiers, lobbied for the special intelligence planning board within the Pentagon to bypass traditional intelligence that warned against going to war in Iraq. This fact is widely known, but Woodward importantly explains: "It was a different way of doing things, first because the planners would be the implementers" -- they would become the "expeditionary force" within Iraq after the war. Definitely not kosher!