Editor's Note: These kinds of comments from Bush must be terribly disheartening for the folks at CNN. They have, after all, shown Americans a war in exactly the sanitized, patriotic mode desired by the Defense Department. Is Bush not satisfied with the warm and fuzzy stories that totally obscure the bloodbaths taking place in Basra, Umm Qasr and Nasiriya? Really, what else does the man want? - wrpFrom John King
Friday 28 March 2003
Officials fault reporters' expectations
WASHINGTON -- President Bush has "some level of frustration with the press corps" for accounts questioning the U.S. and coalition war plan in Iraq, and he finds it "silly" that such skepticism and questions were being raised just days into a conflict he says is going quite well, according to a senior administration official.
The senior official said Friday that Bush believes the "war is going well" and that Bush had no doubts about the battle plan or frustration with developments on the ground in Iraq.
But the questions and comments are not coming just from reporters. Various news accounts have quoted military leaders and retired military leaders who have raised some questions on how the war is unfolding.
This official declined to comment on remarks from the war's Army ground commander -- Lt. Gen. William Wallace -- who told The Washington Post in Friday's paper: "The enemy we're fighting is different from the one we'd war-gamed against."
But the official said the president and other senior officials at the White House have "some level of frustration with the press corps" for the skeptical and sometimes critical view of the battle plan.
Bush appeared somewhat exasperated Thursday when -- appearing with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a news conference at Camp David, Maryland -- a reporter asked whether the war would take months, as opposed to weeks.
"However long it takes," Bush said, repeating that line as the reporter pressed him on the matter. "That's the answer to your question, and that's what you got to know. This isn't a matter of timetable, it's a matter of victory. "
At a briefing Friday, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer was peppered with questions about the president's apparent frustration and the progress of the war.
"I think from the president's point of view, any questions about how long it will last are, of course, are entirely legitimate questions ... The president understands people want to know, but it's also an unknowable issue. But I do think there is a difference between asking that question and the suggestion that, "Why isn't it over already?" Fleischer said.
Asked how the president has expressed his frustration, Fleischer replied, in part, "I don't share every private conversation that I have with the president."
Bush -- who has held a series of events this week highlighting the war effort -- is to deliver a speech Friday afternoon to members of veterans organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.
In that speech, administration official said, Bush plans to encourage Americans to support troops deployed overseas and also to find ways to support their families here at home, many of whom face hardships during lengthy deployments.
Bush then heads to Camp David for the weekend, where he will monitor war developments. Bush's high-profile week was part of a White House strategy to have the president take the lead in trying to frame expectations for the war.
His remarks Friday will continue that effort by talking about a war of undetermined duration, with significant and dangerous battles to come, and harsh words about the tactics of Iraqi forces in their war conduct and treatment of captured coalition forces.
A senior administration official involved in national security matters spoke Thursday night of a "little sense of deja vu," comparing the skepticism in media accounts and from retired military officers to questions raised early in the military campaigns in Afghanistan and the Serbian region of Kosovo.
At Thursday's session with reporters, Bush and Blair were planning to take six questions at a brief session with reporters -- three each from U.S. and British reporters. Minutes before the event, it was cut back to two questions for each side, and Bush appeared exasperated with questions about the timetable for the war.
U.S. Hawk Defends His 'cakewalk' Prediction on Iraq
By Arshad Mohammed
Friday 28 March 2003
A leading U.S. hawk on Friday defended an article in which he said a war with Iraq would be a "cakewalk" but said he underestimated the extent to which Iraq would use guerrilla tactics against U.S. forces.
Kenneth Adelman, a former Pentagon aide, U.S envoy to the United Nations and arms control negotiator, said he stood by the February 2002 article written to counter critics who believed a war could lead to thousands of U.S. casualties.
"They said that Scud missiles would obliterate Israel and American troops in the Gulf, that there would be oil fields on fire everywhere in Iraq, there would be a wave of terrorism in America ... that there would be rebellions throughout the Arab world," he said. "That was the environment I was writing about and I think those kind of predictions are kind of silly."
In his own opinion piece written for the Washington Post early last year, Adelman said, "I believe demolishing (Iraqi President Saddam) Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.
"Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps," he added.
U.S.-led forces have raced across the Iraqi desert toward Baghdad, but their advance has been hampered to some degree by guerrilla tactics the Iraqis have used to attack U.S. supply lines and that may have delayed a U.S. attack on the capital.
Adelman avoided saying the word "cakewalk" when asked about his prediction and declined to say whether he regretted having used it, but he argued that the thrust of his piece was sound and that the U.S.-led war has gone "extremely well" so far.
"When you measure what I predicted as against Armageddon engulfing the Middle East, I am proud of my article. I read it recently and I think it's a sound article," he said, noting he had argued the benefits of a war would far outweigh its costs.
In his piece, Adelman specifically criticized two Brookings Institution scholars, Philip Gordon and Michael O'Hanlon, for having suggested that a U.S. war against Iraq would require "at least 100,000 to 200,000" ground troops.
There are now some 125,000 U.S. and British troops fighting in Iraq and U.S. officials on Thursday said they planned to insert another 100,000 U.S. soldiers by the end of April.
"The bottom line is he got it wrong," Gordon said. "Even with the major force that we have put in there, we are struggling and Saddam is not collapsing quickly and they are putting up fierce resistance."
Adelman, an aide to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during his first tour as Pentagon chief in the 1970s, said he underestimated Iraq's use of guerrilla warfare that has impeded the U.S. campaign.
"I really never thought that Fedayeen people would surrender and then shoot our Marines, that they would use hospitals to hide T-54 tanks, that you know those kind of practices would be used," he said. "It's been certainly a detriment to the war effort so far but the overall effort, I think, has gone extremely well."
Some conservatives had argued that the war with Iraq would be relatively easy, that the Iraqis would give up without much of a fight and that U.S. soldiers would be widely greeted as liberators -- predictions that have yet to come to pass.
U.S. public opinion appears to be shifting to the view that the war may last months, rather than weeks as U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney suggested the Sunday before the war began eight days ago.
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