What others are Saying

May 30, 2007

One of the few foreign policy achievements of the Bush administration has been the creation of a near-consensus among those who study international affairs, a shared view that stretches, however improbably, from Noam Chomsky to Brent Scowcroft, from the anti-war protesters on the streets of San Francisco to the well-upholstered office of former Secretary of State James A. Baker III. This new consensus holds that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a calamity, that the presidency of George W. Bush has reduced America's standing in the world and made the United States less, not more, secure, leaving its enemies emboldened and its friends alienated. Paid-up members of the nation's foreign policy establishment, those who have held some of the most senior offices in the land, speak in a language once confined to the T-shirts of placard-wielding demonstrators.

So it comes as less of a surprise than once it might have to see Dennis Ross and Zbigniew Brzezinski - two further fixtures of the national security elite - step forward to slam the administration in terms that would, in an earlier era, have seemed uncouth for men of their rank. Neither Mr. Ross, who served as Middle East envoy for both George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, nor Mr. Brzezinski, a conservative Democrat and Cold War hawk, could be dismissed as Nation-reading, Howard Dean types. Yet in withering new books, they both eviscerate the Bush record, writing in the tone of exasperated elders who handed over the family business to a new generation, only to see their successors drive the firm into bankruptcy. - Jonathan Freedland, in The New York Review of Books

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