Mixed Messages

Our visit to the People’s Daily indicates that the folks in Beijing felt something was important in the Washington Post interview in my post right below that I glossed over: the President rejected Secretary Powell’s statements that there was an Iraqi withdrawal timetable, and it would be well underway (if not complete) by the end of the year.
It seems that even with Powell a lame duck pending the ascendancy of Incompetentalleezza Rice to Foggy Bottom, the President continues to delight in treating General Powell as some kind of court jester. It seems that almost without fail, whatever Powell says will later be undercut or outright contradicted by someone else in the Bush Administration (frequently the President himself).
Well, I think Powell is used to this. It’s the fact that he’s actually not a knee-jerk yes-man (think of Paul O’Neill at Treasury) that is the reason he is on his way out. Again: whatever I once thought of Powell, he still strikes me as one of the few (if not the only) Bush Administration official still worthy of some degree of respect. Which, of course, is why the Administration itself shows him none.
Ignore what Powell said. Ignore what Bush said. Just watch very carefully what Rumsfeld has to say, oh, say, around two weeks from today, when the bloodbath election is complete, and the results (80% Shia seats, 20% Kurd seats, 0% Sunni seats) are announced. If Rummy starts saying things like “democracy is messy”, look for a rapid drawdown, possibly complete by June or July. If Rummy starts talking about “known knowns and unknown knowns” and so forth, look for American casualties to continue for sometime… If Rumsfeld isn’t called upon to make a statement at all, God help us all: we’re probably talking about a draft, and an expansion of this wing-ding into some kind of massive regional war, probably involving both Iran and Syria.
Plenty of time for all of this. Some $40,000,000 shindig has to take place first. (Wonder how much body or vehicle armor one could get for $40,000,000? Not much point in asking now, I guess.)