Sunday, April 2


Condi Rice admits to "thousands of mistakes" in Iraq.

"I know we've made tactical errors, thousands of them, I'm sure," Dr Rice told a gathering of 200 foreign policy experts, local officials and journalists organised by the Chatham House foreign policy institute.
"This could have gone that way, or that could have gone that way. But when you look back in history, what will be judged is did you make the right strategic decision."

"If you spend all of your time trying to judge this tactical issue or that tactical issue, I think you miss the larger sweep."

Condi later explained her surprising statement:

"First of all, I meant it figuratively, not literally. Let me be very clear about that. I wasn't sitting around counting," she replied. "The point I was making to the questioner ... is that, of course, if you've ever made decisions, you've undoubtedly made mistakes.

"The important thing is to get the big strategic decisions right, and that I am confident that the decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein and give the Iraqi people an opportunity for peace and for democracy is the right decision."

"The other point I was making to the questioner is that I'm enough of a historian to know that things that looked brilliant at the moment turn out in historical perspective to be mistakes, and the things that look like mistakes turn out to have been right decisions."

I heard the following reactions to those statements today on TV news shows,

Evan Bayh (on Wolf Blitzer's Late Edition): "They were for candor before they were against candor. She should have stuck to her original statement."

Zinni: Spin, cherry-picking facts, use of metaphors, walking away from 10 years of planning, lack of cohesive approach to aftermath, belief in these un-credible exiles, a series of disastrous mistakes. Rice said “tactical mistakes,” no they were strategic mistakes, policy mistakes that were made back here.

I also heard excerpts from an interview of Condi on BBC (Jonathan Dimbleby was the interviewer). I'd forgotten what aggressive questioning from the press was like. It's such a missing element in American journalism these days.

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