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With a president lacking the intellectual capacity and policy focus required for this office, it's been child's play for ideologues like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, both frozen in 21st century cold war memories, to hijack this presidency.

Bush continues to serve primarily as a figurehead, albeit an excellent fundraiser, due to his dogged insistence on continual tax cuts for the very wealthiest, a.k.a., his financial backers.

During his first term, one person alone appeared to have the capability of understanding and operating in the world of public diplomacy. Tragically, Colin Powell was handcuffed from the outset by the band of neoconservatives who dictated the well-documented failed policies of an administration headed by a uninterested president.

Whether it was the unquestioning loyalty of a good soldier, or a lack of just one more grain of sand to stand up to these ideologues, we will never know.

The Powell of Bush's second term may well be Condoleeza Rice.

One need observe only the bungled attempt at diplomacy surrounding the Israeli-Hezbollah war. How does one know whether Rice supported Bush's delaying tactics against pushing for an immediate cease fire? She might have succeeded, had she been allowed to function as a true Secretary of State, able to use diplomacy to stop the bloodshed much earlier.

The Damocles sword hanging over Rice's neck is the same weapon that ultimately defeated Powell. The sinister Cheney is always in the background, pulling the strings. It's never been more true that in the Israeli-Hezbollah war.

Besides far fewer deaths and casualties, Hezbollah would not have scored points so easily on the Arab street of opinion.

Cheney has effectively tied Rice's hands with the constant inclusion of Elliott Abrams, his National Security Council plant, in her diplomatic travels. Historians will note this is the same Elliott Abrams who avoided a possible conviction for his role in the Iran Contra disgrace, via a pardon at the hands of Bush's father.

Having the bellicose Abrams on a diplomatic mission is akin to bringing your boyfriend along when trying to patch up a troubled marriage.

The Cheney-driven delay in instigating a ceasefire once more blew up in the face of the oft-discredited Middle East hardliners who continually influence the strangely uninvolved Bush. By failing to act immediately, we handed a certain moral, and possible military victory to Hezbollah, allowing them to claim a high ground that we needn't have ceded.

Cheney had earlier convinced Bush that it was in America's interest for Israel to launch an intense air force bombing campaign against Hezbollah's heavy fortifications in Lebanon. This was in concert with the neocons' wish to launch an aerial bombardment on Iran's nuke capability, and would serve as the road map for their long-desired attack upon Iran. Top Army, Navy and Marine Corps leaders have lobbied vigorously against this, arguing that, just as in Iraq and now in Israel's problem with Lebanon, it will result in a need for the insertion of ground troops, which we don't have, due to Bush's calamitous
involvement in Iraq.

Seymour Hersch reported that a former senior intelligence official told him the Israeli plan was "The mirror image of what the U.S. had been planning for Iran." According to Hersch's source, Cheney's position was, "What if the Israelis execute their {mission} first, and it's really successful? It'd be great. We can learn what to do in Iran by watching the Israelis in Lebanon." The unflappable Cheney, of course, still believes we'll be greeted with flowers and cheering throngs in Baghdad.

Richard Armitage, former Bush Assistant Secretary of State said, "The only thing that the bombing {of Lebanon} has achieved thus far is to unite the population against the Israelis."

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, much like Tony Blair, has seriously weakened his own position at home by supporting Bush's consistently wrong decisions in the Middle East.

Don Rumsfeld, battle scarred by his hugely incorrect assumptions about virtually everything in Iraq, is said to be at odds with Cheney and Bush on this one.

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Thomas L. Walsh graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Communications/Journalism degree in 1962. Following a successful business career, he retired to Idaho's Teton Valley in 1999, where he works as a free-lance writer. Walsh and his (more...)
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