State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III [NOOK Book]

Overview

"Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year." This was the secret Pentagon assessment sent to the White House in May 2006. The forecast of a more violent 2007 in Iraq contradicted the repeated optimistic statements of President Bush, including one, two days earlier, when he said we were at a "turning point" that history would mark as the time "the forces of terror began their long retreat."

State of Denial examines...
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State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III

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Overview

"Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year." This was the secret Pentagon assessment sent to the White House in May 2006. The forecast of a more violent 2007 in Iraq contradicted the repeated optimistic statements of President Bush, including one, two days earlier, when he said we were at a "turning point" that history would mark as the time "the forces of terror began their long retreat."

State of Denial examines how the Bush administration avoided telling the truth about Iraq to the public, to Congress, and often to themselves. Two days after the May report, the Pentagon told Congress, in a report required by law, that the "appeal and motivation for continued violent action will begin to wane in early 2007."

In this detailed inside story of a war-torn White House, Bob Woodward reveals how White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, with the indirect support of other high officials, tried for 18 months to get Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld replaced. The president and Vice President Cheney refused. At the beginning of Bush's second term, Stephen Hadley, who replaced Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser, gave the administration a "D minus" on implementing its policies. A SECRET report to the new Secretary of State Rice from her counselor stated that, nearly two years after the invasion, Iraq was a "failed state."

State of Denial reveals that at the urging of Vice President Cheney and Rumsfeld, the most frequent outside visitor and Iraq adviser to President Bush is former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who, haunted still by the loss in Vietnam, emerges as a hidden and potent voice.

Woodward reveals that the secretary of defense himself believes that the system of coordination among departments and agencies is broken, and in a SECRET May 1, 2006, memo, Rumsfeld stated, "the current system of government makes competence next to impossible."

State of Denial answers the core questions: What happened after the invasion of Iraq? Why? How does Bush make decisions and manage a war that he chose to define his presidency? And is there an achievable plan for victory?

Bob Woodward's third book on President Bush is a sweeping narrative -- from the first days George W. Bush thought seriously about running for president through the recruitment of his national security team, the war in Afghanistan, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the struggle for political survival in the second term.

After more than three decades of reporting on national security decision making -- including his two #1 national bestsellers on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush at War (2002) and Plan of Attack (2004) -- Woodward provides the fullest account, and explanation, of the road Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and the White House staff have walked.
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Editorial Reviews

Ted Widmer
Woodward's new book, the third in his trilogy on George W. Bush, conveys a great deal of information, none of it good for the president and his team. It gives far more operational detail on Iraq than its predecessor, Plan of Attack. It also goes much further in asserting the author's distaste for the war and the administration's handling of it than anything Woodward has written previously. In fact, it is the angriest book Woodward has written since his first, All the President's Men. Like that masterpiece, State of Denial feels all the more outraged for its measured, nonpartisan tones and relentless reporting. It is nothing less than a watershed.
—The Washington Post
Michiko Kakutani
As depicted by Mr. Woodward, this is an administration in which virtually no one will speak truth to power, an administration in which the traditional policy-making process involving methodical analysis and debate is routinely subverted. He notes that experts -- who recommended higher troop levels in Iraq, warned about the consequences of disbanding the Iraqi Army or worried about the lack of postwar planning -- were continually ignored by the White House and Pentagon leadership, or themselves failed, out of cowardice or blind loyalty, to press insistently their case for an altered course in the war.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Rather than a liberated state, Iraq has become this administration's "state of denial." With apparently limitless access, Woodward recounts the trials and tribulations of Bush, focusing on Iraq. Woodward presents a broad range of sincere efforts, missed opportunities and blatant mistakes by Bush and his team of advisers. According to Woodward (and many others in the administration), one of Bush's most contemptuous denials is his continual endorsement of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. But the ultimate denial by Bush is his refusal to be genuine, sincere and honest with Americans, other world leaders and the war-torn impoverished Iraqis. His fear of showing weakness, doubt or emotion actually debilitates and discredits his humanity. Woodward illustrates Bush's emotional capacity, even revealing several times when Bush cries. This, more than any speech, would make Americans believe again in their president, but Bush denies Americans this reality. Boyd Gaines delivers the facts with a reporterlike authority and tone while perceptively capturing the emotional resonance of spoken words, his Bush impersonation improving as the audiobook progresses. Overall, his performance coincides neatly with Woodward's writing style. Simultaneous release with the S&S hardcover. (Oct.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
Woodward's trilogy on the Bush administration at war is essential,and compelling, reading. The latest volume tells a depressingly familiar story of dysfunctional government: the president would rather swap jokes than ask hard questions about what is going wrong with the war he launched; the secretary of defense is more concerned with accumulating power than with thinking sensibly about what to do with it. Part of the story is Woodward himself. As court chronicler of the Bush White House, he produced a mildly flattering portrait of the administration in volume one, Bush at War, which reads curiously beside volume three. He is at times clearly being used to burnish egos and take revenge; it appears, for example, that Condoleezza Rice let slip George Tenet's "slam dunk" comment regarding the case for Iraq's having weapons of mass destruction, so Tenet reports that he warned Rice in July 2001 of al Qaeda's plans to attack the United States. We are also asked to believe that Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan single-handedly sorted out the April 2001 incident with China over a downed U.S. spy plane — because that is the story he told Woodward, who does not seem to have checked it out with anyone else. State of Denial is a must read, but it must be read with care.
From the Publisher
"State of Denial feels all the more outraged for its measured, nonpartisan tones and relentless reporting. It is nothing less than a watershed.... The full story of the Iraq War will be told by historians....This book...will be at the top of their shelves as they proceed to the altar of judgment."

— Ted Widmer, The Washington Post Book World

"Serious, densely, even exhaustively reported, and a real contribution to history in that it gives history what it most requires, first-person testimony....This is a primer on how the executive branch of the United States works, or rather doesn't work, in the early years of the 21st century."

— Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal

"Never-before-reported nuggets in every chapter....It offers the most revealing in-the-room glimpse of the Bush administration that we have so far."

— Walter Shapiro, Salon.com

"State of Denial is brimming with vivid details about White House meetings, critical phone calls, intelligence reports, and military affairs....Impressively detailed and eye-opening revelations about the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war and its aftermath."

— Chuck Leddy, The Boston Globe

"Woodward's book is packed with details about the gulf between the information the administration had and the picture it presented."

USA Today

"Woodward's trilogy on the Bush administration at war is essential, and compelling, reading."

Foreign Affairs

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743293259
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 10/2/2006
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 359,828
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Bob Woodward
Bob Woodward is an associate editor at The Washington Post, where he has worked for forty-one years. He has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes, first for The Washington Post’s coverage of the Watergate scandal, and later for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He has authored or coauthored twelve #1 national nonfiction bestsellers. He has two daughters, Tali and Diana, and lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, writer Elsa Walsh.

Biography

Perhaps the only journalist who can claim to feature both Judy Belushi and Ronald and Nancy Reagan on his list of enemies, Washington Post editor and Watergate watchdog Bob Woodward is famously (purposefully?) a lightning rod for criticism. Woodward raises as many eyebrows for his anonymous sourcing as he summons applause for his scorched-earth approach in interviewing masses of people for every project; the extensive information he digs up is held in awe, yet greetings from the nation's book critics and journalists don't always read like love letters. Joan Didion, in the pages of The New York Review of Books called The Choice, his account of the 1996 presidential campaign, "political pornography."

The New Republic opened its review of The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House by pleading with readers not to buy the book. Frank Rich, the opinion columnist for The New York Times, said that Woodward's book Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate should have instead been entitled All the Presidents Stink, since none of the nation's post-Watergate presidents seemed able to withstand the author's tut-tutting over minor peccadilloes.

For the record, Judy Belushi objected to what she called Woodward's overly negative portrait of husband John's drug use and lifestyle excesses in the 1984 biography Wired, and the Reagans didn't like what he had to say about deceased CIA Director William Casey in Veil.

Still, Woodward delivers the goods.

On the job for nine months as a night cops reporter for The Washington Post in 1972, Woodward lucked into the petty crime of the century: the break-in at Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate complex. Woodward and reporter Carl Bernstein's investigation reached the highest levels of the Nixon White House, and has become a template for investigative journalism ever since. Thousands of students have poured out of journalism schools in the ensuing years -- for better or worse -- sniffing the winds for their own private Watergate.

Woodward himself hasn't found it, but he has maintained a reputation as the investigator within American journalism, often winning unparalleled access to his subjects and developing a reputation for almost manic multiple-fact-checking of information. After turning the Watergate story into the book and film All the President's Men, Woodward and Bernstein -- or "Woodstein," as they became known in the Post's newsroom -- collaborated on a second book, The Final Days, a look at the end of the Nixon presidency. In 1979, Woodward cast his glance around Washington and found The Brethren, an inside look at the inner workings of the Supreme Court, this time with co-author Scott Armstrong.

Aside from the Belushi biography, Woodward has stuck to the political. He went inside the Clinton White House with The Agenda, inside the CIA with Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987 (raising questions about his mysterious hospital interview with a groggy Bill Casey) and inside the 1996 Clinton-Dole duel for the presidency in The Choice.

Woodward is the only author to publish four books on a sitting president during the president's time in office. He spent more time than any other journalist or author interviewing President Bush on the record -- a total of nearly 11 hours in six separate sessions from 2001 to 2008.

His four books on President George W. Bush are Bush at War (2002), about the response to 9/11 and the initial invasion of Afghanistan; Plan of Attack (2004), on how and why Bush decided to invade Iraq; State of Denial (2006), about Bush's refusal to acknowledge for nearly three years that the Iraq war was not going well as violence and instability reached staggering levels; and The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008 (2008), about the deep divisions and misunderstandings on war strategy between the civilians and the military as the president finally decided to add 30,000 troops in a surge.

In every case, Woodward digs deep. And it all started when he was a teenager, working one summer as a janitor in his father's law office in Wheaton, Ill. He made his way through the papers in his father's desk, his father's partner's desk and the files in the attic.

"I looked up all my classmates and their families, and there were IRS audits or divorces or grand juries that did not lead to indictment," he told U.S. News and World Report in 2002. "It was a cold shower to see that the disposed files contained the secret lives of many of the people in this perfect town and showed they weren't perfect."

Good To Know

Richard Nixon said his wife, Pat, had a stroke while reading the Woodward and Bernstein book Final Days.

Woodward once briefly dated reporter Leslie Stahl, who also covered the Watergate story, even to the point of following John Dean into a men's room to continue questioning him.

He voted for Richard Nixon.
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    1. Hometown:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 26, 1943
    2. Place of Birth:
      Geneva, Illinois
    1. Education:
      B.A., Yale University, 1965

Read an Excerpt


Chapter One

In the fall of 1997, former President George H. W. Bush, then age 74 and five years out of the White House, phoned one of his closest friends, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the longtime Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States.

"Bandar," Bush said, "W. would like to talk to you if you have time. Can you come by and talk to him?" His eldest son and namesake, George W. Bush, who had been governor of Texas for nearly three years, was consulting a handful of people about an important decision and wanted to have a private talk.

Bandar's life was built around such private talks. He didn't ask why, though there had been ample media speculation that W. was thinking of running for president. Bandar, 49, had been the Saudi ambassador for 15 years, and had an extraordinary position in Washington. His intensity and networking were probably matched only by former President Bush.

They had built a bond in the 1980s. Bush, the vice president living in the shadow of President Ronald Reagan, was widely dismissed as weak and a wimp, but Bandar treated him with the respect, attention and seriousness due a future president. He gave a big party for Bush at his palatial estate overlooking the Potomac River with singer Roberta Flack providing the entertainment, and went fishing with him at Bush's vacation home in Kennebunkport, Maine -- Bandar's least favorite pastime but something Bush loved. The essence of their relationship was constant contact, by phone and in person.

Like good intelligence officers -- Bush had been CIA director and Bandar had close ties to the world's important spy services -- they had recruited each other. The friendship was both useful and genuine, and the utility and authenticity reinforced each other. During Bush's 1991 Gulf War to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait and prevent him from invading neighboring Saudi Arabia, Bandar had been virtually a member of the Bush war cabinet.

At about 4 A.M. on election day 1992, when it looked as if Bush was going to fail in his bid for a second term, Bandar had dispatched a private letter to him saying, You're my friend for life. You saved our country. I feel like one of your family, you are like one of our own. And you know what, Mr. President? You win either way. You should win. You deserve to. But if you lose, you are in good company with Winston Churchill, who won the war and lost the election.

Bush called Bandar later that day, about 1 P.M., and said, "Buddy, all day the only good news I've had was your letter." About 12 hours later, in the early hours of the day after the election, Bush called again and said, "It's over."

Bandar became Bush's case officer, rescuing him from his cocoon of near depression. He was the first to visit Bush at Kennebunkport as a guest after he left the White House, and later visited him there twice more. He flew friends in from England to see Bush in Houston. In January 1993 he took Bush to his 32-room mansion in Aspen, Colorado. When the ex-president walked in he found a "Desert Storm Corner," named after the U.S.-led military operation in the Gulf War. Bush's picture was in the middle. Bandar played tennis and other sports with Bush, anything to keep the former president engaged.

Profane, ruthless, smooth, Bandar was almost a fifth estate in Washington, working the political and media circles attentively and obsessively. But as ambassador his chief focus was the presidency, whoever held it, ensuring the door was open for Saudi Arabia, which had the world's largest oil reserves but did not have a powerful military in the volatile Middle East. When Michael Deaver, one of President Reagan's top White House aides, left the White House to become a lobbyist, First Lady Nancy Reagan, another close Bandar friend, called and asked him to help Deaver. Bandar gave Deaver a $500,000 consulting contract and never saw him again.

Bandar was on hand election night in 1994 when two of Bush's sons, George W. and Jeb, ran for the governorships of Texas and Florida. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush thought that Jeb would win in Florida and George W. would lose in Texas. Bandar was astonished as the election results poured in that night to watch Bush sitting there with four pages of names and telephone numbers -- two pages for Texas and two for Florida. Like an experienced Vegas bookie, Bush worked the phones the whole evening, calling, making inquiries and thanking everybody -- collecting and paying. He gave equal time and attention to those who supported the new Texas governor and the failed effort in Florida.

Bandar realized that Bush knew he could collect on all his relationships. It was done with such a light, human touch that it never seemed predatory or grasping. Fred Dutton, an old Kennedy hand in the 1960s and Bandar's Washington lawyer and lobbyist, said that it was the way Old Man Kennedy, the ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, had operated, though Kennedy's style had been anything but light.

Bandar planned his 1997 visit with the Texas governor around a trip to a home football game of his beloved Dallas Cowboys. That would give him "cover," as he called it. He wanted the meeting to be very discreet, and ordered his private jet to stop in Austin.

When they landed, Bandar's chief of staff came running up to say the governor was already there outside the plane. Bandar walked down the aisle to go outside.

"Hi, how are you?" greeted George W. Bush, standing at the door before Bandar could even get off the plane. He was eager to talk.

"Here?" inquired Bandar, expecting they would go to the governor's mansion or office.

"Yes, I prefer it here."

Bandar had been a Saudi fighter pilot for 17 years and was a favorite of King Fahd; his father was the Saudi defense minister, Prince Sultan. Bush had been a jet pilot in the Texas Air National Guard. They had met, but to Bandar, George W. was just another of the former president's four sons, and not the most distinguished one.

"I'm thinking of running for president," said Bush, then 52. He had hardly begun his campaign for reelection as governor of Texas. He had been walking gingerly for months, trying not to dampen his appeal as a potential presidential candidate while not peaking too early, or giving Texas voters the impression he was looking past them.

Bush told Bandar he had clear ideas of what needed to be done with national domestic policy. But, he added, "I don't have the foggiest idea about what I think about international, foreign policy.

"My dad told me before I make up my mind, go and talk to Bandar. One, he's our friend. Our means America, not just the Bush family. Number two, he knows everyone around the world who counts. And number three, he will give you his view on what he sees happening in the world. Maybe he can set up meetings for you with people around the world."

"Governor," Bandar said, "number one, I am humbled you ask me this question." It was a tall order. "Number two," Bandar continued, "are you sure you want to do this?" His father's victory, running as the sitting vice president to succeed the popular Reagan in the 1988 presidential election was one thing, but taking over the White House from President Bill Clinton and the Democrats, who likely would nominate Vice President Al Gore, would be another. Of Clinton, Bandar added, "This president is the real Teflon, not Reagan."

Bush's eyes lit up! It was almost as if the younger George Bush wanted to avenge his father's loss to Clinton. It was an electric moment. Bandar thought it was as if the son was saying, "I want to go after this guy and show who is better."

"All right," Bandar said, getting the message. Bush junior wanted a fight. "What do you want to know?"

Bush said Bandar should pick what was important, so Bandar provided a tour of the world. As the oil-rich Saudi kingdom's ambassador to the United States, he had access to world leaders and was regularly dispatched by King Fahd on secret missions, an international Mr. Fix-It, often on Mission Impossible tasks. He had personal relationships with the leaders of Russia, China, Syria, Great Britain, even Israel. Bandar spoke candidly about leaders in the Middle East, the Far East, Russia, China and Europe. He recounted some of his personal meetings, such as his contacts with Mikhail Gorbachev working on the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. He spoke of Maggie Thatcher and the current British prime minister, Tony Blair. Bandar described the Saudi role working with the Pope and Reagan to keep the Communists in check. Diplomacy often made strange bedfellows.

"There are people who are your enemies in this country," Bush said, "who also think my dad is your friend."

"So?" asked Bandar, not asking who, though the reference was obviously to supporters of Israel, among others.

Bush said in so many words that the people who didn't want his dad to win in 1992 would also be against him if he ran. They were the same people who didn't like Bandar.

"Can I give you one advice?" Bandar asked.

"What?"

"Mr. Governor, tell me you really want to be president of the United States."

Bush said yes.

"And if you tell me that, I want to tell you one thing: To hell with Saudi Arabia or who likes Saudi Arabia or who doesn't, who likes Bandar or doesn't. Anyone who you think hates your dad or your friend who can be important to make a difference in winning, swallow your pride and make friends of them. And I can help you. I can help you out and complain about you, make sure they understood that, and that will make sure they help you."

Bush recognized the Godfather's advice: Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. But he seemed uncomfortable and remarked that that wasn't particularly honest.

"Never mind if you really want to be honest," Bandar said. "This is not a confession booth. If you really want to stick to that, just enjoy this term and go do something fun. In the big boys' game, it's cutthroat, it's bloody and it's not pleasant."

Bandar changed the subject. "I was going to tell you something that has nothing to do with international. When I was flying F-102s in Sherman, Texas, Perrin Air Force Base, you were flying F-102s down the road at another Texas base. Our destiny linked us a long time ago by flying, without knowing each other." He said he wanted to suggest another idea.

"What?"

"If you still remember what they taught you in the Air Force. I remember it because I spent 17 years. You only spent a few years. Keep your eye on the ball. When I am flying that jet and my life is on the line, and I pick up that enemy aircraft, I don't care if everything around me dies. I will keep my eye on that aircraft, and I will do whatever it takes. I'll never take my eye off."

Former President Bush continued in his efforts to expand his son's horizons and perhaps recruit future staff.

"George W., as you know, is thinking about what he might want to do," he told Condoleezza Rice, the 43-year-old provost of Stanford and one of his favorite junior National Security Council staffers from his White House years. "He's going to be out at Kennebunkport. You want to come to Kennebunkport for the weekend?"

It was August 1998. The former president was proposing a policy seminar for his son.

Rice had been the senior Russia expert on the NSC, and she had met George W. in a White House receiving line. She had seen him next in 1995, when she had been in Houston for a board meeting of Chevron, on which she served, and Bush senior invited her to Austin, where W. had just been sworn in as governor. She talked with the new governor about family and sports for an hour and then felt like a potted plant as she and the former president sat through a lunch Bush junior had with the Texas House speaker and lieutenant governor.

The Kennebunkport weekend was only one of many Thursday-to-Sunday August getaways at Camp Bush with breakfast, lunch, dinner, fishing, horseshoes and other competitions.

"I don't have any idea about foreign affairs," Governor Bush told Rice. "This isn't what I do."

Rice felt that he was wondering, Should I do this? Or probably, Can I do this? Out on the boat as father and son fished, the younger Bush asked her to talk about China, then Russia. His questions flowed all weekend -- what about this country, this leader, this issue, what might it mean, and what was the angle for U.S. policy.

Early the next year, after he was reelected Texas governor and before he formally announced his presidential candidacy, Rice was summoned to Austin again. She was about to step down as Stanford provost and was thinking of taking a year off or going into investment banking for a couple of years.

"I want you to run my foreign policy for me," Bush said. She should recruit a team of experts.

"Well, that would be interesting," Rice said, and accepted. It was a sure shot at a top foreign policy post if he were to win.

Bush raised an important issue with his close adviser Karen Hughes, then 43, a former television reporter who had worked for five years as his communications czar in Texas.

He said he needed to articulate why he wanted to be president. "You know, there has to be a reason," he said. "There has to be a compelling reason to run."

Hughes set out to come up with a central campaign theme. She knew Bush had three policy passions. First, there were the so-called faith-based initiatives -- plans to push more government money to social programs affiliated with religious groups. That enthusiasm was real, but it couldn't be the backbone of a presidential campaign.

Second, Bush cared about education. But America's schools are run at the state and local level. It would be tough to run for president on a national education platform.

Bush's third belief, in tax cuts, held promise. It could provide the rationale. The campaign autobiography Hughes wrote with Bush -- A Charge to Keep, released in November 1999 -- included 19 provisions about "education" and 17 entries under "taxes." "Faith-based organizations" are mentioned three times. The phrase "foreign policy" occurs twice, both in the context of free trade. There was a single reference to Iraq, no mention of Saddam Hussein, terrorists or terrorism.

During one of the 2000 primaries, Bush called Al Hubbard, a former deputy chief of staff to his father's vice president, J. Danforth Quayle, and one of a group of advisers the elder Bush had recruited to tutor his son on economic issues.

"Hubbard," Bush exclaimed. "Can you believe this is what I'm running on! This tax cut!"

Bush invited Richard L. Armitage, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, to join his team of foreign policy advisers. Armitage, 54, was Colin Powell's best friend. Barrel-chested with a shaved head, a weight-lifting addict who could bench-press 330 pounds, Armitage was a 1967 graduate of the Naval Academy. He signed on because he believed that the Clinton administration had no theory or underlying principle for its foreign and defense policies. It was ad hoc. The Republicans had a chance of getting it right. Armitage was an admirer of Bush senior, who he felt understood the necessity of a strong foreign policy tempered by restraint.

The U.S. military was preeminent in the world and could dominate or stabilize any situation, in Armitage's view. Clinton and his team had failed to develop adequate exit strategies for getting out of foreign entanglements such as Bosnia or Kosovo in the Balkans.

A big job for the next president, he thought, was no less than figuring out the purpose of American foreign policy. Rice's team called themselves the Vulcans. The name started out in jest because Rice's hometown, Birmingham, Alabama, known for its steel mills, had a giant statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and metal. But the group, which included Paul Wolfowitz, the undersecretary for policy in Cheney's Pentagon, liked the image of toughness, and Vulcans soon became their self-description.

In 1999, Armitage attended five meetings with Bush and various Vulcans. He found good news and bad news. The best news was that Bush wanted Powell to be his secretary of state.

At the first Vulcan meeting in February 1999, Bush had asked, "Is defense going to be an issue in the 2000 campaign?" The advisers said they didn't think it would. Bush said he wanted to make defense an issue. He said he wanted to transform the military, to put it in a position to deal with new and emerging threats.

To do that, the advisers said, the military would need new equipment to make it more mobile and modern, and more advanced training and intelligence gathering. This might take 15 to 20 years before the real advantages would be realized. It would certainly be beyond a Bush presidency, maybe not in their lifetimes.

Bush indicated he was willing to make that investment. Armitage and the others worked on a speech that Bush gave at The Citadel, the South Carolina public military university, on September 23, 1999.

"I will defend the American people against missiles and terror," Bush said, "And I will begin creating the military of the next century.... Homeland defense has become an urgent duty." He cited the potential "threat of biological, chemical and nuclear terrorism.... Every group or nation must know, if they sponsor such attacks, our response will be devastating.

"Even if I am elected, I will not command the new military we create. That will be left to a president who comes after me. The results of our effort will not be seen for many years."

Armitage was pleased to see realism in a presidential campaign. He thought that terrorism, and potential actions by rogue states such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea, could be trouble, but not lethal. The big issues in defense policy were the great power relationships with Russia, China and India.

But there was also bad news about Bush. "For some reason, he thinks he's going to be president," Armitage told Powell. It was like there was some feeling of destiny. Bush talked as if it was a certainty, saying, "When I'm president..." Though not unusual for candidates to talk this way in speeches, Bush spoke that way privately with his advisers. It was as if Bush were trying to talk himself into it.

And there was Bush's smirk, Armitage said.

The big problem, Armitage thought, was that he was not sure Bush filled the suit required of a president. He had a dreadful lack of experience. Armitage told his wife and Powell that he was not sure Governor Bush understood the implications of the United States as a world power.

Copyright © 2006 by Bob Woodward

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2007

    A reviewer

    I have read all three of the trilogy, and in my view this one is the best . . . as it summarizes key point from both of the previous volumes. The challenge I have is that if this data is accurate, and I suspect it largely is, our country simply isn't stepping up to deal with the significant degree of misguided leadership. What ever happened to the baby boom generation that was going to positively change the world back in the late 60s early 70s? I'm wondering why this material does not have the powerful impact that the Bob Woodward of 'All the President's Men' fame had?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2006

    Woodward's third Iraq volume explains the wayward war

    This exceptional book reveals the Bush Administration¿s war in Iraq through the exacting eyes of noted journalist Bob Woodward. The third volume in his 'Bush at War' series, it unfolds as a vivid history, a detailed, a step-by-step progression of events, personalities and motives. Woodward lets the insiders and their stories speak for themselves as he describes how both powerful and everyday people succumb to large public mistakes, and how those shape history. He has written this book as a series of short vignettes - and as the scenes unfold, so do the personalities and their individual quirks. Readers see why some plans succeeded and others failed. Those who seek sinister people with ulterior motives will be disappointed. The story did not develop that way. These seem to be well-meaning people who lost touch and failed. We consider this essential reading for anyone who seriously wants to understand the Iraq war and the people fighting it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2006

    American oligarchy at it¿s worse.

    Before the war it appeared we were on a one way trip toward war. Realizing our fate I picked up a copy of the Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman. She painted a picture of the inevitable course we would follow in the winter of 2002-2003. Critical thinking appeared to be out the window. Hubris and momentum were pushing us toward war. Woodward shows us, as a few before him have, it was. The political infighting, childish bickering paints a tragic picture of what happens when a few dominate our Government. Most of the players were privileged inbreeds with multiple connections to multiple administrations. Bush is of course a third generation politician. Inbreeding is a bad thing. We are clearly not a meritocracy, if we were we would not be in Iraq. Too bad people were not allowed to think outside the box. Too bad Rumsfeld lasted so long. History will not be kind to these narrow minded individuals. This book paints an early telling of that portrait. A bunch of privileged people acting like adolescents getting tens of thousands of people killed. Like at least 500,000 other American¿s I got to spent part of 2003-2004 over seas because of these adolescents. Tragic to fully grasp why. Thanks for this well rounded and easy to read work. It may be too late for a strategy now

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2006

    History is catching up with the current Administration

    This was yet another great read by Woodward. His work is only reinforcing the history being written about this administration which shows - and will continue to show, regardless of current conservative rhetoric - an incompetent President driven by an equally incompetent inner-circle of advisors into an unnecessary war, and their collective failure to prosecute the war correctly once our country was committed. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld failed our troops and mismanaged the facts on the ground and deserves a great deal of the blame for the mess we are in now in Iraq. However, he answers to the President who is ultimately responsible for failing to appreciate the facts in Iraq. The rhetoric from both the President and Vice-President has never honestly portrayed the reasons for or the realities of this war to the American people and both deserve history's credit for its failure. I can't wait to see the author's next book on the administration. Maybe he can take a look at corporate influences into the decision to invade in the first place.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2007

    A reviewer

    this book is nothing more than speculation that panders to the leftist machine.as this country continues to head down the same road that created the spanish civil war, we can all look back at polemic's like this that caused it. woodward's first two books on the subject were decent, fact bound reads that left the reader the option of opinion. starting with the title of this book, STATE OF DENIAL, the opinion for the reader is already formed.read on bush-haters

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2006

    Unexpected Consequences

    Woodward's book presents an insightful glimpse into the inner workings of the Bush administration as it led our country into the war in Iraq. I believe this was a fair presentation of a very polically volatile issue for our nation. Woodward gives the reader a very good opportunity to see the interaction of various, powerful personalities within Bush's administration and of the president himself and how that interplay led to the commencement of hostile action in Iraq and, most importantly, to the disasterous aftermath that we see playing itself out before our eyes today. Woodward methodically pieces together the sequence of events that precipitated the Iraq conflict. It is disturbing to see how our government made the case for preemptive war with Iraq with but the slightest volume of reliable evidence which, afterward turned out to be false. The entire issue of WMD was found to be a massive misinterpretation of intelligence and bias against the Iraqi leader. Further disturbing is to see the political infighting and poor planning that has led to a quagmire for our country in Iraq and, consequently, our inability to extricate ourselves from it. This book was very illuminating and helped me to better understand how we drifted into this sad state of affairs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2006

    Trapped in Denial

    Amazing how the folks in middle USA [Mid-west + South East and West] remain trapped in denial! Still time to make a course correction for the WH before it is too late - Learn from the Great game gone upside down for the 'Former' British Empire. This book is a great wake up call. A must read for the true Patriot! Not the flag waving, I won't go but you or your kids go to Iraq to occupy the oil fields! folks!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2006

    Re: Success or Failure by A reviewer 10/5/06

    Landslide??? A few liberal people??? How about over half the country. This is one of the most respected journalists in the world providing a snapshot in time of of an administration. That's it. Unfortunately, the administration is frightfully unprepared and short-sighted. You'll be inspired to love your country even more than you already do...because you'll realize how much better we can be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2006

    Wake up America!

    This book should be required reading for every American citizen, especially those who skip going to the polls. Bob Woodward tells it like it is in regard to the current administration, and what it is is an unholy mess that we can only hope and pray may someday be rectified. If possible, I'd give it ten stars.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2006

    Ludacris

    Flat out there should be laws against publishing whatever you want and it's sad some of you will buy this and believe it. This book is outrageous and doesn't even add up do your own research before ever reading this title lucky for me I didn't have to buy it, I was givin it in for a compare and contrast paper I had to write. People please if you deciede to read this learn more than just what this idiot has to say.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2006

    Thought it Would be better than this

    I wasn't expecting Bandar it would been George Bush about Iraq and corruption and instead I was dissapointing at Bob Woodward's writing

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2006

    Eye Opening

    An eye opening account of the day to day decision making process of the Bush strategy in Iraq.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2006

    Interesting and scary

    I admit that I come to this book as someone who does not support the war and I opposed it from the very beginning. I just don't think that you attack another sovereign country, because you don't like them and you want to demonstrate your strength as a superpower. WMD (at worst we were talking about WWI nerve gas... and other countries like North Korea and Iran posed more of a threat), links to al Qaeda (al Qaeda hated the secular regime of Sadam), spreading democracy (sounds a lot like the nation building that Bush had criticized in 2000)? -- all excuses, not reasons for war. I don't think the book really answers the question of why we went to war. Bush planned to take out Sadam before he even took office and before 9/11. Maybe Prince Bandar wanted it... it was incredible to learn that a Saudi Arabian prince was brought in to teach the candidate Bush foreign policy. That is truly incredible... What surprised me was the extent of the dysfunctional nature of our government. I guess I shouldn't have been after seeing the Katrina response. The book reveals that Bush had to order Rumsfeld personally to send the National Guard. I am also concerned about how much Rumsfeld has damaged the American military. The war has truly made all of us less safe and it will take decades to repair the damage done. The book also reveals the less than total agreement with the foreign policy created by Bush, Chaney, and Rice. It will be interesting to see how George H. Bush tries to bale out his son... he only has 2 years left to do it. Hopefully this means no Jed Bush in 2008.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great, well written

    Excellent, thank you Bob Woodward.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2006

    Personal Vendetta

    The author clearly has a negative view of most administrations, and makes a living manufacturing facts to suit his position. Not productive at all, and furthermore not very convincing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2006

    Why Did We Permit This to Happen!

    I don't think that anything in Mr. Woodward's book is new but it is presented here by one of our Country's foremost writers. It also is written in a way that we all understand. So many people have put forth their opinion but the really sad thing is that we (all of us) allowed this administration to continue even in light of its incompetance. It is plainly clear that Mr. Bush considers himself a Messiah and his is an attempt to save the world. What Mr. Woodward puts forth is certainly true and I commend him for stepping up to the plate as he did with Watergate. He has never backed away from controversy. Good for you Mr. Woodward! You are my hero!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2006

    Dear God, Help Us..

    Thank you Mr. Woodward for this book. I have to say, I was so shocked and upset about half way through the book, I had to put it down for 24 hours to compose myself. Then, I couldn't put it down, until I finished it. The arrogance of the parties involved, was so shocking, I was at one point in tears. It seems to me, no one can tell Mr. Bush any bad news. None of the people that surround him & advise him, seem to respect each other. I can not understand, why the militay brass didn't stand up, while they were serving time in Iraq for their soldiers! I do not want anymore of our soldiers to die, for something that was so wrong from the start. All I can say, is please read this book. Bob Woodward proves to us, what we have been thinking. He had no axe to grind against this President. Everything he says is backed up with where he got this information. God please watch over our soldiers,and help us get through this mess. We all need to come together and right the wrongs, that are being done here. One last thought, to think that a strong and intelligent man, Tony Blair, has to step down because he stood by this president, is unconscionable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2006

    Horrendous

    Instead of spreading filth throughout America, he should do his research and get the facts straight and quit beating a dead horse with book after book full of nonsense.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2006

    Fascinating, well written and filled with confirmed material

    If you have any doubt about the current administrations handling of the Iraq war, this book will answer that. This book and the Bush regime scares the hell out of me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2006

    Success or Failure?

    According to the 'facts' in this novel, our president of two terms is a total and complete failure in his administration. But out of the stories that the press tells us, that the white house tells us, and what the author says, who can be trusted? I seem to lean towards that the press is just telling us the terrible and horrible things that Bush does hoping that it'll sell to the few extremely liberal people out there. Just stop and think that if the citizens of the US weren't satisfied with Bush, then how did he defeat Kerry for a re-election by a landslide?

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