In 1998, George W. Bush, then an aspiring presidential candidate, told Condoleezza Rice, ‘I don’t have any idea about foreign affairs.” Eight years and tens of thousands of deaths later, he still doesn’t, writes Bob Woodward in ‘State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III.” In Woodward’s telling, no one in the administration ever pondered the possibility of failure in Iraq. As one worried general jotted down after an early planning meeting, ‘Faulty assumptions. Overly optimistic. Lack of reality.” Woodward’s principal villain — his Darth Vader — is Donald Rumsfeld, whom Bush selected as his secretary of defense partly because his father couldn’t stand him: “It was a chance to prove his father wrong.” Instead he proved him right. Rumsfeld’s managerial style is to chew out anyone who disagrees with him, so violently, humiliatingly and publicly that nobody wants to speak up. The secretary ‘systematically emasculated” the Joint Chiefs of Staff and “thought he had won” when “strong, forceful military advice was bleached out of the system.” Woodward describes the “surreal quality” of the presidential meetings that Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell both attended: ‘Rumsfeld made his presentation looking at the president, while […]

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